The son also rises. In this case Francesco Sersale, the scion of a beloved Italian family of hoteliers who run one of the most iconic hotels in the world, Le Sirenuse in Positano. Since its debut in 1951, when four Italian brothers converted a private home perched on a cliff into an elegant seaside resort, Le Sirenuse has become one of the most photographed and adored properties on the Amalfi Coast.
And now Francesco, 28, takes the reigns of the new Dolce Vitality retreat while his father Antonio and mother Carla run the hotel along with his older brother Aldo. Formerly a talent agent handling endorsement deals for high-profile celebrities, Francesco brings his extensive experience in entertainment marketing, brand partnerships, wellness, and hospitality to the family business while focusing on the brand’s international expansion.
For one week in the Autumn (Oct 30-Nov 5, 2022) and one week in the Spring (Mar 19-Mar 25, 2023), Le Sirenuse opens its doors to just 24 guests who have come to push themselves to the ultimate in fitness while enjoying the healthy cuisine and the stunning scenery of the Amalfi coast. The strenuous hiking retreat was inspired by the areas 4,000 foot high cliffs surrounding the iconic hotel property.
The hikes are often fast-paced, including long vertical climbs up endless flights of steps. There are ancient walking footpaths and mule tracks that follow the range from the Path of Gods through lemon and olive groves, past ancient chapels while traversing winding stone stairways into small villages.
I recently sat down with Francesco on the terrace of Le Sirenuse on a particularly hot summer afternoon as he explained the idea behind Dolce Vitality and what to expect in the upcoming retreats.
What inspired the idea of Dolce Vitality?
Francesco Sersale “It was a program my dad started after he went to a retreat he once attended. He loved that experience and wanted to open the hotel a week prior and a week following the hotel’s official season. It made perfect sense geographically because we are blessed by the mountains, with ancient mule tracks and trails that go everywhere.”
What is different about your retreat from the others?
FS: “I’m radically changing the retreat. This retreat should not be in the same bucket as others you do in the U.S. If you want to go on a strict weight loss detox retreat, where they take your phone and you are suffering, there are a million places for you to go. This should not be another one of those places. On our first retreat, there was no coffee and no alcohol, and that is changing because you shouldn’t wake up with a headache when you give up coffee. Other retreats are also not known for the beautiful rooms, great service, and luxury. They’re known purely for results. This is a place where you enjoy yourself, where you can enjoy the beauty. You should have time to experience and explore Positano. Everything is optional.”
Tell me about the dining options at the retreat.
FS: “We’re going to show off the wonderful, plentiful offering from the Mediterranean Sea right in front of us. It’s still going to be very healthy, and it’s going to be delicious. If you like a glass of wine at dinner, you will be able to have one, and there will also be coffee at breakfast. For dining, we have one long communal table, which is my father’s style. He is known for hosting and entertaining guests, and that should be resembled in our fitness program.”
Working in close collaboration with leading health coach Valentina Dolci, their chef Gennaro Russo has created an organic plant-based menu with the addition of some omega-3-rich local fish and seafood. Based on the Mediterranean diet, Gennaro’s menu is designed to deliver a personalized, results-driven reduced-calorie diet with optimal nutritional benefits. The energy needed to get you up those hills is topped up by snacks – including Gennaro’s homemade granola bars – that are tailored to each participant’s individual body mass assessment.
What is your ultimate goal with Dolce Vitality?
FS: “We want you to learn about our mountains, about our land. We want you to have an amazing, luxurious, pampered time in our hotel. We were hoping you will meet an incredible curated community of like-minded people who come from all over the world to experience this unique initiative. And we want you to leave with some new ideas about how to go about your life that are not radical. And most of all, we want you to really, really enjoy it.”
A limited number of places are available for each six-night retreat (Sunday to Saturday) at the cost of 6,000 euros per person, excluding city tax and VAT. The all-inclusive price covers the complete program, with transfers to and from Naples, spa treatments, meals, and accommodation in a sea-facing room.