Lydia Forte is Group Director of Food & Beverage at Rocco Forte Hotels. She is the daughter of Sir Rocco Forte and the niece of Olga Polizzi.
In this role, she is responsible for the performance of the group’s food and beverage offerings, including its restaurants, bars, meetings & events and in room dining, overseeing the overall strategy for food and beverage. This includes developing new restaurant and bar concepts for the group in Italy, Germany, UK, Russia and China and maintaining the quality of food and service in all the hotels. It also involves responsibility for profits in Food & Beverage, including driving of sales and cost control and an overview of marketing, branding and public relations for the company’s bars and restaurants. Food & Beverage across the group accounts for as much as 35% of revenue in each hotel, making it a vital part of the group’s business.
In Italy, Lydia works closely with 2 Michelin starred chef Fulvio Pierangelini who is Rocco Forte Hotel’s Creative Director of Food for Italy. In the UK, she works with Michelin starred chefs Adam Byatt, and Michel and Alain Roux of Waterside Inn Fame. Lydia set out to create restaurants that are revered by the locals living in the city, as well as by hotel guests. In 2015, Lydia opened ‘Irene’, a Tuscan Bistro at Hotel Savoy in Florence with Pierangelini. The restaurant is frequented by both guests and locals, and revenues have steadily increased since its launch. In 2016, Lydia launched ‘Sophia’s Restaurant and Bar’, a botanical bistro at The Charles Hotel, Munich, now a central Munich hub, and developed the food & beverage offering for the new Assila Hotel, Jeddah, ranging from Argentine Steakhouse to Arabic-Mediterranean mezze. In 2018, Lydia launched ‘Brasserie Prince’ – a French brasserie and bar at the Balmoral Hotel in Edinburgh – with Michel and Alain Roux. In 2019 she opened ‘Carosello’ restaurant at Torre Maizza in Puglia, offering classic Pugliese cuisine by Fulvio Pierangelini, and two restaurants and two bars at Hotel de la Ville in Rome, including a chic, Roman trattoria and a contemporary, Mediterranean sharing concept as well as a herb & liqueur cocktail bar. Most recently, she is working on the development of the entire food and beverage offering for The Rocco Forte West Bund Hotel in Shanghai, set to open in early 2020, with an afternoon tea lounge, an Italian restaurant, a Chinese restaurant and a mixology bar as well as extensive banqueting spaces and a gourmet retail outlet.
Since joining the company six years ago, Lydia has increased the Food & Beverage revenue across the Rocco Forte Hotels group by an average of 15% each year. Lydia’s efforts have also received industry recognition with Rocco Forte Nourish, a healthy eating project across all the hotels launched in collaboration with Irene Forte and local, nutritional experts which won a Catey Award in 2017. She won Top Family Business Rising Star at the European Families in Business Awards in 2018. She is also an investor in the first season of television series Million Pound Menu on BBC2 which aired in April 2018.
Before starting work for Rocco Forte Hotels full-time in February 2014, Lydia managed a new restaurant opening in Chelsea, The Markham Inn, and led two projects to update and improve the restaurants HIX Mayfair in London and Bocconi in Brussels. She then completed an MBA at INSEAD in 2013.
After school, Lydia completed a 3-month professional cookery course at Leith’s, a 3-month rotating internship at Hotel Astoria in St. Petersburg, and spent time in Sales & Marketing at Brown’s Hotel in London. During her time studying Modern History at Oxford University, Lydia trained as a Maitre d’ at The Wolseley. In 2010 she worked as a waitress at HIX Soho. She continued to work her way up through front of house operations in the restaurant industry and worked in restaurant accounting.
Lydia’s native language is English and she speaks fluent Italian and French, conversational Spanish and Greek, and basic Russian.