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“It was Eloise at The Plaza, beach version!” says Marie-Louise Sciò, describing her happy childhood at Hotel Il Pellicano, the iconic cliff-edge Tuscan resort on the Mediterranean beloved by royalty, socialites, and celebrities since the 1960s. Her father, Roberto Sciò, has owned the property since 1979. Sciò fille has been CEO and creative director of Il Pellicano and its sister hotel, La Posta Vecchia, an estate outside Rome formerly owned by J. Paul Getty, since 2006.
Sciò’s working relationship with her father began two years prior, when he asked her—then a freshly-minted Rhode Island School of Design graduate with a degree in architecture—if she would redo one of the rooms at the Pellicano, and she told him that the property needed a more comprehensive refresh to appeal to a younger set. (It was “dusty, metaphorically speaking,” she says.) “He said, ‘Do it,’ and I thought it was totally bananas, but I also thought, Oh god, I’ll probably screw it up, but what I won’t do is make it something it isn’t.” She was true to her word: afterward, the biggest compliments were from clients who’d been coming to the hotel since it opened and who appreciated the improvements she’d made, though they couldn’t put their finger on what, exactly, those improvements had been. “That was exactly what I wanted,” Sciò recounts. “The mission was to keep this place a home for people who have been coming since the sixties and make it a home for people who want to come now, to make it a place where young and old coexist. And that is true for all the hotels.”
They’ve just added one more to the collection: In April, Pellicano Hotels group opened Mezzatorre Hotel & Thermal Spa, an American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts property, a bayside idyll on the coast of Ischia, the volcanic island at the western edge of the Gulf of Naples. A longtime lure for its thermal spas, the island is less tourist-tracked than nearby Capri, and both Sciòs were drawn to the location as soon as they saw it. “We’d been looking everywhere for the right place,” says Sciò, who lives in Rome and also has her own hotel consulting business. “It was very hard to find. My father and a developer found this place, and I didn’t really want another seasonal hotel, but I went to look at it and fell in love.”
Sciò brings her trademark elegance to the property, a seaside 16th-century crenellated fortress and tower (mezzatorre means “half tower” in Italian) surrounded by 17 acres of private pine forest. The renovation of Mezzatorre features Pellicano’s fabled sprezzatura alongside nuanced touches that speak to the Neapolitan locale, and should have been a two-year affair, says Sciò, but the team was so excited that after taking control of the property last November, they rushed to open in six months. Sciò has a tattoo reading HERE, NOW on her wrist to remind her to be present. But, she admits with a sheepish laugh, “I’m always thinking ahead.” Rooms from $763