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Israeli group Leonardo Hotels to open ten hotels in Italy within three years

by Giovanna Mancini

David Fattal, founder of Israeli group Fattal Hotels (and their European branch, Leonardo Hotels) admits that it isn't easy doing business in Italy. It takes longer to finalize deals here than in other places, and for this reason—though Leonardo already has 75 locations in 40 countries—only two are located in Italy.

“We are patient and we won't give up, because we believe that Italy is a very interesting space, and we want to expand,” he told Il Sole 24 Ore-ItalyEurope24, to whom he showed a sneak preview of the hotel he is opening in a few weeks.

The group is already planning ten new hotels within three years, in Milan, Rome, Florence, Venice, and Naples, for a total of around €1.5 million invested in Italy as private equity. This is on top of the investments Leonardo Hotels had previously made in Italy, opening two locations in Milan: one was inaugurated two years ago on Via Messina, and the other is the new Nyx Hotel, which will open in Piazza IV Novembre at the end of February.

Fattal's Italian “challenge” starts with Milan, which was chosen as a launch pad for the European development of the new “Nyx” chain: a four-star ‘concept hotel', inspired by the idea of ‘lifestyle'. The location is a short walk from the Central Station, in a 12-story building (owned by the Caltagirone group) that has hosted Philips' historical Milan offices for 50 years. This particular investment cost them around €10 million.

As Fattal explains, the vision behind the “Nyx” project is a “new generation of hotels, filled with a fresh, young atmosphere, with a focus on art and design. It has to be a club, a community, open not only to clients of the hotel itself, but also to Milanese.”

To this end, the preparations were planned by interior designer Andreas Neudahm, who in turn—in order to furnish the common spaces and some of the 299 rooms—hired Italian design firms (including B&B Italia and Pedrali) and famous local street artists, whose works can be seen in the bar, on the patio, in the restaurant, and on the three terraces (including one on the 12th floor).

“The bar will be the heart of the hotel,” the designer explained, “the place for events, shows, and music nights, together with the garden and the terrace”.

Following the Milanese hotel, their other European plans include Prague, Madrid, and Monaco.

Since the Nyx chain presents itself as a “total concept hotel”, aimed towards a younger, trendier clientele (for both business and vacation purposes), Milan was seen as the ideal city for launching this kind of project in Europe (there's already one in Israel). “We are thinking about hosting events during Design Week in April,” states Fattal, “but also during the fashion weeks and other big events in the city”.

The Nyx brand is the latest from the Leonardo Hotels family (founded in 2006 by the Israeli entrepreneur, in order to expand into Europe), which also includes the “Leonardo Royal” and “Leonardo Boutique” brands: a grand total of 13,000 rooms and more than 22,000 square meters of conference room space. The group, which boasts 2,500 employees, took in about €271 million in 2015 (+12% over the year before); they have invested more than €10 million into renovating and refurbishing their hotels.