< ITALY | VENICE: Bauer Il Palazzo
Since first opening its doors in 1880, the Bauer has set the standard for hospitality in Venice. Known for years as the Bauer-Grünwald, the original hotel was a partnership between Mr. Bauer, the experienced and respected director of Venice’s Hotel de la Ville, and an enterprising young Austrian newly arrived in Venice by the name of Julius Grünwald. Marriage between young Grünwald and Mr. Bauer’s daughter, firmly cemented the two men’s partnership and established a Bauer tradition of family management that continues right down to the present day.
With Bauer’s support and guidance, Grünwald lost little time getting down to business. After assembling and purchasing several properties and refurbishing the existing buildings,
the partners opened their new hotel. Just steps from Piazza San Marco, on the Campo San Moisé and the Grand Canal, the new Bauer enjoyed the most enviable location in all of Venice,
with view of the island of San Giorgio and the church of Santa Maria della Salute extending beyond to the sparkling basin of San Marco. The 200-rooms first-class hotel quickly gained
a reputation for gracious service, fine food, and elegant ambience.
After Grünwald’s death, his heirs continued to run the hotel until selling the Bauer in 1930 to Arnaldo Bennati, a successful Ligurian shipbuilder with a keen nose for real estate and a passion for the hospitality industry. The Bennati family still owns and runs the Bauer today. Arnaldo Bennati closed the Bauer for almost the entire decade of the ‘40s and undertook the first extensive renovation of the Hotel. This included a careful ground-up restoration of the 18th century “Palazzo” on the Grand Canal, to which an original 17th century facade in gothic-byzantine style was added, and the construction of a completely new wing on the Campo San Moisè designed in the architectural style of the time.
Among the highlights of this renovation were the addition of the 7th floor terrace, “Settimo Cielo”, still the highest outdoor terrace in Venice, as well as the introduction of the central heating and air conditioning, amenities that were exceptional for those years. When the Bauer reopened in 1949, it was the most up-to date hotel in Venice.
The 1940s renovation also reconfirmed the Bauer’s continued attention to the highest standards of luxury, refinement, sophistication and guest comfort. The hotel interior featured elegant drawing rooms full of warm leather upholstery and walls richly decorated in classical Venetian rococo motif. From the soft luster of the silver service to the iridescent sparkle of the hand-blown glass chandeliers, no detail was overlooked in creating an ambiance of graciousness, wellbeing and elegance.
In the years that followed, the Bauer was the favorite destination of the international jet set. The guest book featured the names of kings and prime ministers, businessmen and intellectuals, musicians and stars of stage and screen, all drawn to the Bauer by the excellence of its management and staff and its impeccable level of service. Its two nightclubs, “Settimo Cielo” and “Arlecchino” were the pulse of Venetian nightlife.
Today, the Bauer is run by the third generation of the Bennati family. In 1997 Francesca Bortolotto Possati, granddaughter of Arnaldo Bennati, became Chairman and CEO of the hotel. She is the only executive-level female hotelier in Venice and she has approached her role with a confidence and sureness of instinct that is deeply rooted in her lifelong love for the Bauer. In the spirit of her grandfather, her first act at the helm was to undertake a massive 38 million dollar, two-year renovation of the hotel, which encompassed everything from engineering and systems to décor and furnishings.
Completed in late 1999, the Bauer has been reconceived as a property with two unique personalities: the Bauer, a deluxe five-star hotel in the modern wing, and Il Palazzo at the Bauer, an opulent boutique hotel in the 18th century palazzo. The renovation has brought state-of-the-art technology together with the traditional artisan craftsmanship for which Venice is world renowned. While embracing the spirit and romance of its Old World past, the Bauer is ready to serve its guests far into the new century.
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