< ITALY | RAPALLO: Excelsior Palace Hotel
Set on the “Ciappadea Cliff”, overlooking the blue sea of the Portofino Coast, the Kursaal Rapallo opened its doors for the first time on 1st January 1901. Right from its birth, the hotel acquired prestige and fame by being the seat of the first Italian Casino. Even though the Casino was transferred to San Remo in 1928, the Excelsior remained high society’s favourite spot. In 1914 one of the first films with live external shooting was filmed here. It was “The Birth of a Ship”, interpreted and directed by Gian Paolo Rosmarino, a notable figure in the history of Italian cinema.
During the 50’s and 60’s Rapallo, with its prestigious Excelsior Palace Hotel, continued to be frequented by the most important names from the cultural and theatrical worlds, confirming
the quality and beauty of this particular part of the Ligurian Coast.
It is easy to imagine Eleonora Duse sitting in an elegant armchair in one of the hotel’s lounges, hidden under a large, beautiful hat reading a book of D’Annunzio’s poems. The Duke of Windsor with Mrs. Wally Simpson, King Farouk, King Hussein of Jordan, King Constantine of Greece, the lovely red headed actress Rita Hayworth, the writer Ernest Hemingway, all spent their holidays here, not forgetting the Nobel Prize for physics, Guglielmo Marconi, who not far from the Excelsior succeeded in transmitting for the first time by waves and not wires.
Towards the end of the 60’s the hotel fell into a progressively decadent state which led to its final closure in 1974. From this date to June 1995 the hotel remained closed, “vanishing” from the social scene and depriving Rapallo for more than twenty years of an important part of its history.
This long closure seriously damaged the structure of the main building, so that radical changes, as well as a complete re-organisation of the complex, had to be made in order to save the building and return the hotel to its original style and standards.
It has, in fact, been totally rebuilt inside and out, from the original four floors it has passed to the present seven, enjoying a total redistribution of the space available. The very modern “Duke of Windsor” Congress Centre is situated on the lower floor under the hall, where still enjoying the sea view, nine interconnecting meeting rooms can accommodate up to 450 people.
Thanks to its special link between the Excelsior and the Kursaal one arrive at the Beach Club, which offers a lovely well equipped beach, panoramic swimming pool, sun beds, beach umbrellas and beach huts, the Eden Roc Lounge & Restaurant right on the cliff edge and the elegant Sporting Bar.
Part of the Kursaal, a beautiful villa dating from the beginning of this century, has been dedicated to the Health and Fitness Club (also open to visitors) with a gymnasium, heated indoor pool with hydromassage, Turkish bath, sauna and sun beds. The Beauty Farm offers a variety of massages, personalised face and body treatments and talassotherapy (sea treatments).
Many are the sporting attractions, too, courses in gymnastics, movement rehabilitation, swimming, water aerobics, are all followed by qualified instructors as well as sailing, skin-diving and water skiing.
The Excelsior, as its Guests affectionately call it, has finally been restored to its refined and elegant life, which follows the slow and lazy evolution of the historical and aristocratic bathing seasons of the entire Portofino Coast. In the meantime, the Hotel Management has already had the pleasure to welcome Guests such as George Clooney, Michelangelo Antonioni, Burt Bacharach, Gloria Gaynor, Grace Jones, Bruce Springsteen and The E-Street Band, Amii Stewart, Dionne Warwick.
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