< ITALY | STRESA: Grand Hôtel Des Iles Borromées
Until 1860 boats passed off Stresa without stopping, whereas they did call at the Borromean islands. One of the most far-sighted operators in the rising
tourist industry realised that the future was on the coast: building in front of the islands a large hotel which would afford an unequalled view and could accommodate a large
number of visitors was a project destined for success.
This opportunity was seen by a dynasty of hoteliers on Isola Bella, the Omarini family. Owners of the Albergo del Delfino on the island, the members of this family had already worked in the sector in numerous foreign countries and in some Italian cities. It was 1861, the year that saluted the new Kingdom of Italy. A building of prestige was constructed to a design by the architect Antonio Polli and turned Stresa into a resort of primary importance.
In 1863 the Grand Hôtel et des Iles Borromées greeted its first guests. First data of the hotel, shows a three storey building with two terraces at the sides. In 1868 the building
was already being extended with the construction of a new wing.
In the beginning the hotel was visited by tourists from all over Europe, mostly English, but also members of the German, Slav and French nobility. As well as aristocrats came representatives of the world of industry and finance. The crucial historic event that boosted tourism in Stresa once and for all was the construction of the Simplon railway line in 1906: all the international trains now stopped at Stresa and luxury ones, such as the legendary Orient Express, brought high class tourism to Stresa.
In the Thirties Stresa was the venue for two major international conferences that were to make European history. The first, held from 5th to 20th September 1932 was chaired by the Frenchman George Bonnet and attended by fifteen states. The second, held from 11th to 14th April 1935, was led by the prime ministers of Italy, France, England i.e. Mussolini, Laval and McDonald. The diplomatic encounters took place at Palazzo Borromeo, on Isola Bella, but the participants and the various delegations stayed at the Hotel Des Iles Borromées. During those days the hotel was at the centre of world attention and many of the photographs that appeared in the newspapers show the building.
Numerous Italian and foreign writers have mentioned the Grand Hôtel et des Iles Borromées in their works or simply used it as a basis for the setting of their story. The most famous novel that speaks of hotel is, however, "A Farewell to Arms" by the American Nobel prize-winner Ernest Hemingway, published in 1929 and set partly in Stresa. After a short one-week stay in 1918 convalescing to recover from a war wound sufferend on the Piave, Hemingway returned to Stresa in 1927, in 1948 and again in the Fifties.
Today the Grand Hotel Borromées is well-established and well-known among the five star deluxe hotels in Italy. Staying at the Grand Hotel Borromées means that the visitor can appreciate the fascination, the atmosphere and the magic of a heritage rich in history and traditions, while simultaneously enjoying modern comforts.
Hotel's Golden book include many famous names who have chosen the Grand Hotel Borromées for their stay: Leopold II, King of Belgium, King Charles of Luxembourg, the King of Sweden Oscar II, the Maharaja of Burdwan in Bengal, Princess Margaret of England, the American bankers Vanderbilt, Carnegie, Rockefeller and Morgan, Gabriele D'Annunzio, George Bernard Shaw, Clark Gable and many more.
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