Irene Forte breezes through the entrance of Brown’s Hotel in London, one of 11 properties belonging to her father Sir Rocco Forte’s Rocco Forte Hotels. She is chic but demure in presentation, with eyes that resemble the color of the Mediterranean Sea—as inherited from her Italian mother, Aliai Forte. Proceeding to a room that has hosted the likes of Queen Victoria and Sir Winston Churchill as well as Agatha Christie and Rudyard Kipling, she greets the great Madeleine Shaw: the chef/nutritionist debuting a “clean” menu with Brown’s Hotel, who is seated for tea. We are invited to order the “Superfood Energy Balls”—three delish bites of cinnamon, goji, and raisin; cashew, coconut, and date; and almond and chocolate—with our green tea.
This collaboration is among the initiatives that Irene, who serves as brand manager, and her sister Lydia Forte, who serves as bar/restaurant development manager, are encouraging at Rocco Forte Hotels—well, when they aren’t entertaining their beaus Jacobi Anstruther-Gough-Calthrope and Dimitri Chandris, respectively, in destinations such as Lyford Cay and Mustique. (Irene maintains that she prefers the vibe of pubs like the Harwood Arms in Fulham to restaurants like Sexy Fish in Mayfair—which could be why, recently, she was heralded as “the sweetest girl in London” by Tatler.)
Of her role at Rocco Forte Hotels, Irene explains, “I turned around to my dad over a year and a half ago and said, ‘I would really like to get my teeth into the spas. I think we could create quite a fun concept.’ And his response is, you know, ‘How much is it going to cost?’ And I’m always like, ‘Nothing. I’ll figure it out.’ And he’s like, ‘OK, get on with it.’” And thus, the brand introduced at the beginning of 2016 its “wellness” programs (Rocco Forte Fitness, Rocco Forte Health, Rocco Forte Nourish, and Rocco Forte Rituals), which were chased by the launch of Forte Organics. Forte Organics is a collection of products that wasdesigned for the spas, featuring a variety of ingredients sourced from Verdura Resort in Sicily: “We have a huge organic vegetable garden there, so all the ingredients [like lemons] have been handpicked from the resort.” The oils—which are extracted from olives as well as from nuts like almonds (“Very Sicilian. Very active.”)—are complemented with oligomineral water from the Madonie Regional Natural Park.
Rocco Forte Hotels is a brand that continues to evolve, and Irene is its consummate ambassador. She exercises five or six times per week (“I’m a bit of a loon. I completely mix it up.”) and she boasts a mane that could be an advertisement for Forte Organics (“This comes from my mum. She has lots of hair. I still use Redken. It’s an Italian thing. Lots of Italians have so much hair. I think I eat a lot of good oils and lots of good fats but who knows?”). Beyoncé didn’t wake up like this—Irene Forte did.