Pianaura Suites are two eclectic and chic suites set in a 17th century farmhouse overlooking Valpolicella’s rolling hills near Lake Garda.
What is the story behind Favai Hills, what was your inspiration to create it?
Favai Hills is a private hideaway but with a personal touch. We both work in the catering industry and when we go on vacation, we don't book 500-bed castles to stay in. We always look for small hideaways and prefer to stay in apartments and bungalows in different corners of the world, with the Caribbean being a favourite.
But the biggest problem with staying in a bungalow or private home is that you don't get breakfast. I like the peace and solitude of not having staff or other people running around all day. But going out looking for breakfast in the morning is a drawback. That's why we wanted to do something like this. Very few people want all-inclusive anymore but breakfast is nice. So that is the cornerstone of what we offer.
For a few years, we were looking for our own private hideaway, somewhere around Lake Garda. A spot where we could enjoy our spare time, overlooking the lake, while not being far from nice restaurants. We wanted to create a place where we could recharge our batteries for a week or so, with all the conveniences of home.
At Favai Hills, you have peace and quiet, you have privacy and everything you need. But you also have breakfast in your suite or on your private terrace and a personal concierge who can book restaurants for you or recommend places to go. They get to know you a little and suggest things, based on what you like.
Unlike at a large hotel where everything happens relatively anonymously, you have a personal “friend”. If you need anything, someone is there for you 24 hours a day via WhatsApp. Even if you’re out driving and are looking for a good restaurant in Salò, for example, you can message our personal assistant for advice.
We have only been open for just over a year but already, 20% of our guests have stayed four times or more. I think that says a lot.
How would you describe the atmosphere, architecture and interior design of Favai Hills?
We worked with Bergundtal, a South Tyrol-based architecture and interior design company that specialises in luxury hotels. We didn’t want to use glass and concrete but rather natural materials, such as the red Verona marble you can see on the external walls.
Sustainability was important to us, so we have a photovoltaic system above the parking lot. We also have triple-glazed windows (which is unusual on Lake Garda) and this wasn’t just to keep the apartments warm in the wintertime but also to reduce the need for air-conditioning in the summer.
Each apartment is unique and we tried to incorporate as many of the existing materials on the property into the design. For example, there was a historic sheepfold with an old stone vault that is now our Cantina Trust Bar. On the other hand, there are lots of modern touches, such as the lamps from Karman that help to make each apartment individual. Many of the furnishings and benches are custom-made.
The atmosphere at Favai Hill is quiet but you can be anywhere in 10 minutes. In the summertime, you can hear the crickets and a few cowbells from way up high and in the winter, you don't hear anything. You are in the middle of nature and you can see the whole of Lake Garda with the mountains behind. Not only does everyone have their own private garden but there are three hectares of land for a maximum of eight people.
What we effectively sell is peace and privacy. “Favai” is an old word meaning “squirrel”, which is our logo. It’s a word that works in the three different languages of the region — German, Italian and Ladin — and squirrels also reflect the peace and isolation of the forest.
To you personally, what is so special about Favai Hills?
It feels like being on vacation for me, even though I work here, as I am always meeting really lovely people. Despite visiting Lake Garda for the last 13 years, we still do sunset photos and are amazed by the view and the peace. When you arrive and get out of the car, you think: “Oh, I’m here”. The stress goes away and you feel calm.
Most of our new guests arrive and want to book this and this. Then after the second day, they cancel everything as they wonder: “Why should we go down there when it’s so beautiful up here?” For me, being at Favai Hills is a balm for the soul.
And the apartments are pet friendly?
Yes, we do specialise in dogs, as we have a lot of private land for them to run around on. There are lots of hiking trails that lead down to the lake or up the slopes of Monte Baldo and each apartment has a fenced private garden where they can lie in the sun. We have a dog ourselves and being a dog-friendly property is one of our drawcards.