Incredible Wellness Destinations: Raimondo Sartorio Of Aria Retreat & Spa On The Secrets To Creating The Perfect Wellness Destination

Incredible Wellness Destinations: Raimondo Sartorio Of Aria Retreat & Spa On The Secrets To Creating The Perfect Wellness Destination

Engage with Locals: Engaging with locals can turn a simple trip into a rich, immersive experience. Strike up conversations whenever you can, whether it’s with the barista at a café or the person sitting next to you on a bus. These interactions can offer invaluable insights into the culture and daily life of the place you’re visiting.

The pandemic has shaped the way we travel and live, with a growing trend leaning towards health, wellness, and a holistic lifestyle. More than ever, individuals are seeking not just getaways, but immersive wellness retreats that help rejuvenate the body, mind, and soul. Destinations that provide a serene environment, unique wellness offerings, and an unparalleled experience are in great demand. In this interview series, we are talking to property owners and hospitality companies who are at the helm of these wellness havens. As a part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Raimondo C. Sartorio.

Raimondo C. Sartorio is the visionary Managing Director of Parco San Marco Hotels & Beach Resort, a premier destination renowned for its unparalleled guest experiences and exceptional location, offering the best of both Lake Como and Lake Lugano. Over the past two decades, Raimondo’s unwavering commitment has been pivotal in transforming the resort into a unique hospitality and SPA haven. His crowning achievement came in 2021 with the launch of ARIA Retreat & SPA, a remarkable milestone that solidified his vision, establishing it as a unique jewel in the luxury hospitality industry.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive into the main focus of our interview, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?

Thank you for having me! I’m delighted to share a bit about my background. I had the privilege of growing up in the charming town of Ascona, a jewel nestled on the shores of Lake Maggiore. Ascona is a place of stunning beauty and rich cultural heritage, offering a vibrant, multilingual environment that shaped my early years.

My family’s legacy is deeply rooted in the traditions of mountain farming and hospitality, stretching back many generations in the picturesque yet rugged landscapes of Piedmont. This unique combination of breathtaking natural beauty and challenging conditions instilled in me a profound appreciation for resilience, hard work, and the art of exceptional service.

What or who inspired you to pursue your career? We’d love to hear the story.

My greatest inspiration has undoubtedly been my family. Their unwavering support and the challenges they presented to me pushed me to explore the world and uncover the true beauty of life, which I believe lies in the diversity and complexity of the human experience. Growing up immersed in the hospitality industry, it became clear that this field was the perfect avenue to combine my passions with a career dedicated to creating unforgettable experiences for others.

The hospitality industry allows me to engage with people from all walks of life, each bringing their own unique stories and backgrounds. There is an unparalleled thrill in crafting a stay that not only meets but exceeds the expectations of our guests, reflecting their desires and ensuring they leave with memories that beckon them to return. Each day presents a new opportunity to make someone’s visit special, to turn ordinary moments into extraordinary ones, and to showcase the warmth and beauty of human connection. This is what drives me and keeps my passion for hospitality alive.

None of us can achieve success without some help along the way. Was there a particular person who you feel gave you the most help or encouragement to be who you are today? Can you share a story about that?

Thank you for the thoughtful question. It’s true that success is rarely achieved alone, and I’ve been fortunate to receive support from many wonderful people along the way. While it’s difficult to single out just one person, I must say that my wife, Annika, along with our three children, has been my greatest source of support and inspiration. They are the true spring of my life, always bringing energy, joy, and a sense of purpose to everything I do.

In addition to my family, I owe a great deal to the owning family of Parco San Marco, Mr. and Mrs. Schwenn. Their vision, dedication, and unwavering support have been instrumental in shaping my career. Their commitment to excellence and their belief in my abilities have provided me with the encouragement and resources needed to drive the resort forward. Their leadership and mentorship have been invaluable, teaching me the importance of resilience, flexibility, and teamwork. Their influence has been a cornerstone of my professional journey, and I am deeply grateful for their guidance and support.

It has been said that sometimes our mistakes can be our greatest teachers. Can you share the funniest or most interesting mistake that occurred to you in the course of your career? What lesson or takeaway did you learn from that?

During my first training as a front office trainee at the Hotel Schweizerhof in Bern in 1990, I was eager to prove myself and would take on any challenge, never giving up, even when common sense would suggest otherwise. Jean Jacques Gauer, the living on-site owner and manager at the time, and also the president of the Leading Hotels of the World, set a high standard for all of us.

One day, I was tasked with assigning rooms for a very large international bankers delegation that was going to occupy over 60% of the hotel’s room capacity. Determined to get everything perfect, I worked feverishly — quite literally, as I was actually running a fever at the time. Despite my best efforts, I managed to completely mix up the room assignments, categories, and arrival dates. The result was a major catastrophe, with bankers arriving to find their rooms either not ready or incorrectly assigned.

Thanks to the great professionals who were there, we managed to resolve the situation. They taught me the importance of thorough planning and double-checking my work. It was a humbling experience that reinforced the value of resilience and the ability to learn from one’s mistakes. Now, I always approach tasks with a clear mind and a careful eye, ensuring that such a mix-up never happens again.

Can you share your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Why does that resonate with you so much?

My favorite life lesson quote is from Winston Churchill: “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: It is the courage to continue that counts.”

This quote resonates with me deeply because it encapsulates the essence of resilience and perseverance, which are crucial in both personal and professional life. In the hospitality industry, we face constant challenges and changes. This quote reminds me that every success is a step forward, but not the end of the journey, and every setback is a chance to learn and grow.

It emphasizes the importance of having the courage to keep moving forward, no matter the circumstances. This mindset has been instrumental in guiding me through the highs and lows of life, always pushing me to strive for excellence and never settle for complacency.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?

In the short term, we are developing an innovative wellness program that combines traditional holistic practices with modern wellness techniques for our CEò SPA at ARIA Retreat & SPA. This program aims to provide our guests with a comprehensive approach to well-being, helping them achieve balance and rejuvenation during their stay. We hope to enhance the overall quality of life for our guests through these unique wellness experiences.

In the medium and long term, we’re thrilled about our digital transformation initiatives. This project will empower us to provide exceptional service and innovate our business operations. By integrating sustainable practices, such as reducing paper waste, enhancing internal and external communication, implementing energy-saving measures throughout the resort, and augmenting digital security, we are committed to creating a more efficient and eco-friendly environment.

Additionally, we are excited to unveil an extraordinary addition to our resort: 15 new, ultra-luxurious suites for ARIA Retreat & SPA. This state-of-the-art building will redefine modern architecture by seamlessly blending sustainability and functionality. Using innovative design strategies to minimize its environmental impact, the building will ensure a quiet and comfortable environment for guests, with energy-efficient systems that reduce noise pollution. The new suites will feature private loggias with breathtaking mountain and lake views, as well as cutting-edge smart home technology for a truly personalized experience. This expansion will elevate our already exclusive offerings, allowing guests to create even more luxurious and unforgettable memories while ensuring we continue to protect our beautiful natural surroundings.

Based on your research or personal experience, why do you think travel can lead to personal growth? Can you share a story?

As a child, my favorite writer was Emilio Salgari, whose stories transported readers around the world in extraordinary ways. Inspired by his adventures, I embarked on my first journey at the age of 19, traveling from the coast of Florida all the way down to Chile, mostly by bus. It was the late 1980s, a time of significant conflict in Latin America, which many may remember from the Iran-Contra Affair.

One of the most impactful and eye-opening experiences of my travels occurred in Peru. During this period, the Maoist guerrilla group Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path) controlled almost 50% of the country, and terrorist attacks were a grim part of daily life. Trust was a scarce commodity, as civilians were often mistreated by both the police and military, as well as by the guerrillas.

While I was in a remote village on the outskirts of Cusco, I witnessed a terrorist attack by Sendero Luminoso on a police station. The entire event lasted less than a minute but left the village in terror, with several deaths and injuries. This harrowing experience profoundly impacted me, highlighting the stark realities of conflict and the resilience of the people living through it.

Travel can lead to personal growth by exposing us to different cultures, perspectives, and realities. It challenges our assumptions, broadens our understanding, and fosters empathy. My journey through Latin America taught me the value of resilience, the importance of understanding diverse perspectives, and the deep impact of experiencing life beyond our comfort zones. These lessons have stayed with me throughout my life and career, continually shaping my approach to both personal and professional challenges.

A recent survey from Psychology Today showed that over 80% of participants found that travel helped them with problem-solving or decision-making. Why do you think this is true for so many people?

I wholeheartedly agree with the findings of the survey. Travel indeed has a remarkable ability to enhance problem-solving and decision-making. It’s a well-known fact that gaining physical and mental distance from an issue can provide clarity. When we step away from our everyday environment, we’re able to see things from a fresh perspective, free from the immediate pressures and distractions.

Moreover, traveling to a place of inspiring natural beauty and experiencing genuine hospitality can elevate this effect. Nature’s tranquility and the warmth of a hospitable culture create an ideal setting for reflection and creativity. It’s no surprise that in such environments, the percentage of people finding clarity and solutions would likely reach 99%.

At Parco San Marco, we strive to provide exactly this kind of transformative experience. Nestled between the stunning lakes of Como and Lugano, our resort offers not only breathtaking views but also an atmosphere of genuine hospitality. Here, guests can disconnect from their routine and immerse themselves in a serene environment, perfect for rejuvenation and insightful decision-making. We believe that at our resort, guests can achieve 100% success in finding clarity and solutions, making it the ultimate destination for those seeking both relaxation and inspiration.

Do you think travel enhances our mindfulness, optimism, or sense of gratitude? How? Can you please explain with an example or story?

Absolutely, travel can profoundly enhance our mindfulness, optimism, and sense of gratitude. When we travel, we step out of our daily routines and immerse ourselves in new environments and cultures. This shift in perspective naturally encourages mindfulness as we become more attuned to the present moment, savoring new experiences and sensations.

Travel also fosters optimism. Encountering different cultures and landscapes exposes us to the beauty and diversity of the world, inspiring a sense of wonder and possibility. Seeing how others live and thrive can fill us with positive energy and hope, reminding us of the resilience and creativity inherent in humanity.

Moreover, travel cultivates a deep sense of gratitude. When we experience the hospitality and warmth of people in different parts of the world, it highlights the importance of human connection and kindness. Witnessing the simple yet profound ways in which people find joy and meaning in their lives can make us more appreciative of our own blessings.

At Parco San Marco, we aim to create these enriching experiences for our guests. Nestled between the stunning lakes of Como and Lugano, our resort offers a serene environment perfect for mindfulness and reflection. Our genuine hospitality ensures that guests feel welcomed and valued, fostering a deep sense of gratitude and optimism.

Our slogan, “Come as guests. Leave as friends!” encapsulates our commitment to creating meaningful connections and unforgettable experiences. We believe that by providing a space where guests can truly relax and reconnect with themselves and others, we help enhance their overall well-being and sense of gratitude.

Surely not everyone who travels automatically becomes an exemplar of human decency. What are a few reasons why some people completely miss out on the growth opportunities that travel can offer?

Some people might miss out on the growth opportunities that travel can offer for various reasons. One possible reason could be that their expectations are not fulfilled, leading to disappointment rather than growth.

Another reason might be that individuals are not fully open to new experiences. If travelers are too focused on their routines or comforts, they might miss the chance to engage deeply with their new surroundings and the cultures they encounter.

Additionally, personal growth often involves a learning curve. The lessons and insights gained from travel may not always be immediately apparent but can surface over time as individuals reflect on their experiences.

Ultimately, the key to benefiting from travel lies in maintaining an open mind, embracing new experiences, and being willing to learn and grow from each journey.

What are your “5 Habits You Should Develop In Order To Make Travel Into An Opportunity For Personal Growth?”

1. Be Open-Minded: Embrace the unexpected and welcome new experiences with an open heart. For instance, I once found myself invited by a fellow student to his family’s home in San Sebastian, just an hour’s drive from Pamplona. My visit coincided with the “Fiesta of San Pedro & San Marcial,” a vibrant celebration that commemorates the victory of Spanish troops over the French on June 30, 1522, the day of San Marcial. Today, it is the most important festival of the year in San Sebastian, lasting three days of non-stop celebrations.

Without hesitation, I was swept into the festivities, culminating in a grand military parade where different districts of the town, dressed in traditional Basque uniforms with rifles and accompanied by military bands, marched proudly. Each district was led by the most beautiful girl of the year. No questions asked, I found myself put in a uniform, embracing a rifle, and marching alongside incredibly proud Basque men, cheered on by their families and friends as if I were one of them. This experience taught me the joy of immersing myself in local traditions and the profound connections that can be made when you open yourself up to new and unexpected experiences.

2. Engage with Locals: Engaging with locals can turn a simple trip into a rich, immersive experience. Strike up conversations whenever you can, whether it’s with the barista at a café or the person sitting next to you on a bus. These interactions can offer invaluable insights into the culture and daily life of the place you’re visiting.

For example, during one of my trips to South America, I decided to visit Peninsula Valdés, a breath taking site on the Atlantic coast of Argentina, home to southern right whales, elephant seals, sea lions, and penguins. To make the most of my visit, I wanted to be there at sunrise, right on the coast. The only other person present on the beach at dawn was a young Argentinian man who had the same idea. We started a conversation that led to a long-lasting friendship, which still endures despite the decades that have passed. Through this friendship, I discovered local traditions, family values, and the unique way of life in that part of Argentina.

Engaging with locals transforms your travel experience from mere sightseeing to truly living and connecting with the essence of the place. It’s these personal interactions that often leave the most lasting impressions and meaningful memories.

3. Reflect Daily: Take a few moments each day to jot down notes about your experiences. At the time, these notes might not seem particularly significant, but when read later, they can reveal how deep and beautiful certain moments truly were. This habit helps you to appreciate your journey more fully and capture the small, meaningful moments that make travel enriching. By reflecting on your day, you turn each experience into an opportunity for learning and personal growth, making your travels more impactful and memorable.

4. Practice Mindfulness: While traveling, it’s easy to get caught up in the rush to see and do everything. Practicing mindfulness helps you stay present and fully experience each moment. This can be as simple as paying close attention to your surroundings, savoring a local meal, or truly listening during a conversation with a local. For example, when visiting a bustling market, instead of hurrying through, take your time to observe the vibrant colors, inhale the different aromas, and listen to the sounds around you. By doing this, you’ll find beauty in the details and gain a deeper appreciation for the place you are visiting. Mindfulness turns everyday travel experiences into enriching moments of discovery and joy.

5. Learn Something New: Open your eyes and stay curious about your surroundings. Travel offers countless opportunities to learn something new at every corner, whether it’s about the local history, cultural practices, or everyday life. For example, simply wandering through a city’s streets, you might notice architectural styles, historical landmarks, or local customs that tell a story about the place. Every encounter, every conversation, and every observation can teach you something if you are open to seeing it. By maintaining a mindset of curiosity and a willingness to learn, you can turn every moment of your journey into an educational experience, enriching your understanding and appreciation of the world around you.

From your experience, does travel have a negative impact on personal growth too? Is there a downside to travel?

While travel is generally a wonderful opportunity for personal growth, it’s fair to recognize that it can come with some challenges. For instance, the logistics of travel — like long journeys and navigating unfamiliar places — can sometimes be stressful. However, these challenges also provide opportunities to develop resilience and problem-solving skills.

Another consideration is the environmental and cultural impact of tourism. In popular destinations, over-tourism can strain local resources and affect the natural environment. This highlights the importance of traveling responsibly and respectfully, ensuring that we leave a positive impact on the places we visit.

Moreover, travel can occasionally lead to feelings of homesickness or disconnection from our usual support networks. Yet, this too can foster personal growth by encouraging us to adapt and build new connections.

In essence, while there are some potential downsides to travel, they often come hand-in-hand with valuable lessons and experiences. By approaching travel with an open mind and a respectful attitude, we can maximize its benefits and contribute positively to the places and people we encounter.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we both tag them :-)

If I could have a private breakfast or lunch with anyone, it would be Sir Richard Branson. His innovative approach to business, his adventurous spirit, and his commitment to making a positive impact on the world are truly inspiring. Sir Richard has successfully navigated multiple industries, from music to airlines to space travel, all while maintaining a strong focus on sustainability and social responsibility.

I would love to discuss his experiences and insights on balancing business success with personal fulfilment and social impact. His ability to think outside the box and pursue bold, ambitious projects could offer invaluable lessons for anyone looking to innovate and make a difference in their field.

Moreover, his stories of overcoming challenges and turning setbacks into opportunities would be incredibly motivating. Having the chance to learn from his journey first hand would be an extraordinary experience. So, Sir Richard, if you’re reading this, breakfast or lunch is on me!

How can our readers further follow your work online?

Our readers can follow my work and stay updated with the latest from Parco San Marco in several ways:

  1. Website: Visit our official website at for information on our resort, latest news, and upcoming events.
  2. Social Media: Follow us on social media platforms for regular updates, behind-the-scenes glimpses, and engaging content.

3. Newsletter: Subscribe to our newsletter through our website to receive exclusive offers, travel tips, and the latest news directly to your inbox.

4. Blog: Check out our blog on our website where we share stories, tips, and insights about travel, wellness, and our beautiful region.

By connecting with us online, you can stay informed about all the exciting developments at Parco San Marco and join us on our journey to provide exceptional experiences for our guests.

Thank you for these really excellent insights, and we greatly appreciate the time you spent on this. We wish you continued success.

Thank you so much for having me. It’s been a pleasure to share my experiences and thoughts with you and your readers. I appreciate the opportunity to contribute to this conversation and look forward to continuing to provide exceptional experiences at Parco San Marco Hotels & Beach Resort. Wishing you and all your readers the very best in your own journeys and endeavors. Thank you again!

About the Interviewer: Wanda Malhotra is a wellness entrepreneur, lifestyle journalist, and the CEO of Crunchy Mama Box, a mission-driven platform promoting conscious living. CMB empowers individuals with educational resources and vetted products to help them make informed choices. Passionate about social causes like environmental preservation and animal welfare, Wanda writes about clean beauty, wellness, nutrition, social impact and sustainability, simplifying wellness with curated resources. Join Wanda and the Crunchy Mama Box community in embracing a healthier, more sustainable lifestyle at

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