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A new luxury hotel to open for business in Torno, Lake Como, with Venezuelan capital

by Paola Dezza

It was an American client staying at his hotel who told Luis Contreras – a Venezuelan entrepreneur owner of the luxury hotel Le Sereno in St. Barths – that Villa Flora on Lake Como was on sale.

After a quick tour Luis Contreras fell in love with the place and decided to purchase the property and turn it into a luxury hotel.

“We have decided to invest here because it's a limited area where high-end competitors offer a service that is very different from ours, and the clients are the same who come to our hotel in the Caribbean,” said Contreras.

Contreras has spent €40 million to buy the existing building and restore it. And not only. He has also decided to rent for a 20-year period Villa Pliniana (next to Villa Flora, whose name derives from the spring described by Pliny the Younger). This villa will become a location for big events and marriages, and it will be run like a hotel.

The Il Sereno Hotel of Torno, how it has been renamed, is currently undergoing some restoration work, and it will open in August 2016 with about thirty rooms all with a view on the lake and a restaurant that aims at becoming a point of reference for those who appreciate the “gourmet side” of a weekend or vacation.

The hotel, designed by the Spanish designer Patricia Urquiola and member of the Leading Hotels of The World, will provide its clients with very large rooms – from 60 to 200 square meters –- a jaw-dropping pool suspended on the lake and a private beach. The private dock will allow those who want to sail on the lake and take a closer look at its panoramas and villas to use the boats by the Riva boat-yard, especially produced for the clients of the hotel.

The hotel and the estate will create around 100 jobs for the people of Torno or the small towns nearby.

Villa Pliniana, a 16th century house owned by the Ottolenghi family from Bologna, dominates a cove of the lake in front of Laglio with its majestic halls and furniture – including the piano used by Gioachino Rossini to compose the Tancredi.

The gardens and woods of the villa cover 75,000 square meters, and inside the villa there are 19 bedrooms in the four large apartment in the main building, plus other three independent villas (one of these three, hidden in the dense vegetation, used to be the home of the fishermen).

Villa Pliniana can welcome up to 39 guests. The only building is the private spa with glass windows and a swimming pool overlooking the lake.

“Our goal is to create a small chain of luxury hotels, and this is why we are currently considering other hotels in Italy and in the South of France,” concluded Contreras.