If you’ve ever needed the sophistication of a getaway to a secluded Italian villa, but still wanted to be close to the action, then Hotel Granduca is where you want to be. Hidden in the hills of west Austin atop a winding driveway, Hotel Granduca is celebrating its first anniversary in the live music capital. The Tuscan-inspired hotel, based on developer Giorgio Borlenghi’s vision of Italian sophistication and modern luxury, opened it’s doors in Houston back in 2006. After five years of success, Borlenghi sought to stake his claim in Austin, creating his vision of Italy in a way that few others could achieve.
“About five years ago, we said ‘Ok we’ve been successful in Houston, now we want to do a second hotel’ and my son was going to UT, so I said we needed to do it in Austin,” he said. “But immediately, we felt that we should not be in downtown Austin with this concept. You need to be in a place where you have the environment and the trees around. Even driving up as you do, you leave the highway and up — that’s very Italian.”
High over the city their lines of warm windows have surely contributed their share to the excitement of Austin. From the picturesque courtyard to the elegant dining areas, Borlenghi and Hotel Granduca have crafted one of Austin’s finest hotels to date, and currently has the distinction of being the only hotel in Austin that is a member of the prestigious organization, The Leading Hotels of the World. But this level of craftsmanship did not come without arduous endeavor, according to Borlenghi.
“We do it with the details,” he quipped. “Especially in the public areas, I have all Italian prints. One of my favorite things is maps and family crests, and in this hotel we have about 1,400 prints and pieces of art and not one is the same as another one. When you go to a big hotel and stay in a room and the next week you stay at another room and you may see the same art. Everything here is original.”
Those details are not common finds for travelers either. The decor of the hotel has the ability to transport guests to another country because much of it has come straight from Italy, according to Borlenghi.
“I went back to Italy because I still have family there, so I go two or three times a year,” Borlenghi explained “I went to buy and to to bring some of the things that we have here, like the prints and everything else, and then I went to select all of our outdoor daisies. All of those things come from Italy, and it’s what helps me create the feel. You need those elements to really make it visually what people expect it to be.”
Hotel Granduca manages to simultaneously be within and without the inexhaustible variety of life that Austin has to offer. Being secluded within the hills give the hotel the advantage of being a true getaway from the woes of normal life, but with a short drive into town guests can easily be immersed in the vivacious buzzing of downtown Austin. Guests can spirit away to a more natural experience with modern conveniences and that’s by design.
“The theme of this hotel is to just be a different hotel,” Borlenghi expounded “Unfortunately most hotels in this country today, especially of a certain size, they all look the same. Same room, same ceiling fan, just a different hotel. The idea here was really to try to create something really unique that would give an experience to people and give them more reason to come. And we do that in different ways. Of course we want to be a contemporary hotel when it comes to the service and the amenities that we have, but we want to transport people into a different place. I really mean it — this is my Italian palace on top of a hill in Austin.”
The natural landscape plays a major role in creating the fantastic destination, and thanks to conservation efforts, there aren’t plans to change that in the near future. Borlenghi’s creation and continuation of Hotel Granduca has been about consistency and it shows.
“The inspiration has been to try to be as consistent — even more than faithful — as consistent with what we liked [in Houston] and what we have over there,” he said. “I fell absolutely in love with this site when I saw it, especially the fact that we have 33 acres of property, but we can only use five acres. That to me was a great, great positive because I can ensure the views from the rooms. You can see all these beautiful trees all around, so in a way it’s being in Austin, but being in the hill country, or being in the countryside of Italy where you’d go to someone’s country home and be surrounded by beautiful trees.”
With the first anniversary under their belt, Hotel Granduca is likely to see growing success in the coming year.