Although the family has been in the hotel business for over 70 years, the idea for Union Hotels Canazei (UHC) emerged some 35 years ago. “It was, and still is increasingly difficult to operate alone in a global business world and compete with large hotel chains and booking platforms,” explains Walter Nicolodi, who represents the second generation in the family business and is a key driver of the UHC concept.
“Initially, we built the UHC structure through the acquisition of other hotels and related businesses – restaurants and pubs, for example – to enable us to offer our guests a complete range of services. Later on, we formed collaborations with businesses owned by other families, and we also cooperate with various organizations in the region to provide our customers with information about the full range of events and services that the area has to offer.”
One of the features of the group is a centralized administration function, operated by experts in their field. “I had analyzed other hotel structures in Italy and abroad, and recognized that in order to be successful, you need a range of specific skills – reservations, management, internal logistics, recruitment and so on – and decided to create a new organization center staffed with specialists in the various disciplines,” continues Mr. Nicolodi.
Today, there are eight hotels in the group and ten other businesses, including restaurants, a pub, park, playground, theater and disco, as well as a congress center which offers a full range of facilities for business customers. All are located in the Val di Fassa, Trentino, in the heart of the Dolomites; the area of outstanding beauty has been named a World Heritage Site.
It boasts one of the largest ski areas in the world, although it offers outstanding leisure opportunities to visitors all year round. Tourists come from 50 countries around the globe, including Western and Central Europe, Scandinavia, Russia, Asia, Australia, India, and North and South America.
It was, and still is increasingly diffi cult to operate alone in a global business world. Walter NicolodiPresident and Managing Director
“We have attended tourist trade fairs around the world to learn about the needs of diverse markets, and have adjusted our services accordingly,” stresses the Managing Director. UHC is also in the process of updating its website and increasing its social media presence to maximize its potential. The company also works with booking portals worldwide.
Despite its tremendous growth, UHC has not deserted its family roots. Mr. Nicolodi’s father is still working at the age of 91, and the third generation is also active in the company. “UHC is still managed by the family and we retain the values and goals of my parents,” Mr. Nicolodi underlines. “Even in the early days, they worked together with other hotelier families to structure development in the region. I am passionate about our concept of joining businesses together.”
One of his goals is to establish a new organization, operated perhaps by his own sons or those of other hoteliers with Mr. Nicolodi working in an advisory capacity, to introduce his ideas to other small hotels. “I truly believe that a public company structure such as ours is the key to survival for small hotels and hospitality businesses. It offers small hoteliers the opportunity to work together to leverage the benefits of cooperation while reducing the risks inherent in the hospitality market. I want to offer them the benefit of my experience and help them to build something similar. My work is my hobby and although I always say I would like to step down at some point, my enthusiasm for the hotel business is such that I am likely to emulate my father and never retire.”