Zash Country Boutique Hotel - Riposto, Catania
Federica Eccel, sales & Marketing Specialist for Zash Country Boutique Hotel, tells us about the day that changed her life and about the place that, for the past few years, she has been calling home.
"It was a beautiful January day and I had an appointment with the owner of the property. Some friends had told me that he had been doing something “special” with this hotel, that might be of interest for someone in the hospitality business, like me.
Honestly, I wasn’t thrilled at all. I thought it was just another new hotel, and I actually found its location, a bit off the beaten track, rather odd. I wasn’t expecting much, to say the least. But little did I know how this hotel would have caught not only my attention, but my life!
To this day I ask myself how could I be so wrong. But still I was a little right. In fact it is very true that the Zash it’s surrounded by a beautiful country, which includes the whole area between the sea and Mount Etna. But it is also true that this little district is quite far from the most renowned tourist locations in Sicily. Nevertheless it is surprising how the interest in this area has been increasing over the past few years. The beauty of the land, the presence of many fine wineries have been attracting visitors from all over the world. And I’m talking about demanding and sophisticated tourists.
I’m in love with the renovation process, which means being respectful towards nature. The project enhances the old building, improving it but keeping the spirit of a country house. The architectural interventions brought new life to the building by creating contrasts. Our goal was to put modern accessories all around so that the eye of the visitor could immediately recognize what’s new and what’s old, getting in touch with the essence of the place. Perception is the key: we want visitors to feel like they have been transported to a time and place where nature was more present and important.
Rooms have been designed with the intention to surprise the guests, not with decorations or special effects, but with a fluid distribution of the spaces and without sharp distinctions.
This concept is based on the idea that the visitor has to know the location and feel at home in a very short time. Every wall is painted white to be more in harmony with nature, and all the furniture is tailor made, specifically for these rooms.
Wooden slats of oak floors, large slabs of lava stone for cladding, accompanied by contemporary design elements, are the only additions to the old structure.
I was asked what aspect or detail of Zash I would never change: a room, a view, an atmosphere… I said I would keep it all as it is! Almost two years after the opening I can honestly say that what makes Zash really special is the atmosphere, which is given by the perfect combination of “historic” spaces and modern elements.
Today we are proud to receive our guests to our Home! Our 10 rooms, our staff, our whole mansion, welcome them in a cosy, warm and yet professional environment. I’m really glad to say that many people come here as clients and leave as friends. This is another “aspect” that I’d never change. The view is just breathtaking. From our terrace you can almost touch the coast of Calabria and the Strait of Messina. You can admire the colours of Taormina, the green country and the blue sea.
If Zash was a composition or an artwork it would be a song by Richard Serra, lines and matter, or a painting by Fontana, like a cut on a green canvas.
Speaking about movies, “Bicycling with Moliere” I think is a perfect match. Set in the countryside, both simple and sophisticated. Reading books and taking care of the garden at the same time.
Since we are located in an old winery, the comparison with a wine is only natural. In this case, Zash would definitely be a Domaine de Montille Bourgogne Rouge, which is all about history, elegance and innovation.
“This story, as all good stories, takes us to a journey through time. The past, its roots; the present, the new generation; evolution, not revolution… and erudite mix between tradition and modernity… I dare say it’s a continuous change”.
This is why a traveler should choose Zash. Because the atmosphere here is magic. An old mansion in the Sicilian country. A wonderful citrus grove with a breathtaking view of the sea and of Mount Etna, “A Muntagna” as it is called in the local dialect.
The strategic location of the hotel allows all guests to explore Eastern Sicily with some great one-day excursions. It is the very centre of a triangle made by Catania, Taormina and Etna. The territory is the most green and beautiful of the whole island, with colourful lemon and orange trees that contrast the dark-grey drystone walls. The air in the garden is filled with the sweet perfume of the flowers of the orange trees.
The food is an experience on its own. Our new chef, Giudeppe Raciti, is a young star, and he already worked with several famous chefs. Every dish has a coulour or a flavor of this enchanted island. We don’t care about awards – not for now at least. We only care about making happy whoever seats at our table".