White Lilac B&B Italy

How White Lilac B&B builds customer loyalty by creating memorable guest experiences

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Traveller Review Awards 2024 winner Donatella Faccioli, owner of White Lilac B&B, shares how she and her team go the extra mile to provide a unique guest experience to remember.

Going above and beyond to provide an exceptional experience

Our ethos at White Lilac B&B is simply to do everything we can to make our guests feel special. My husband Simon and I are very good listeners and love chatting with our guests to better understand their tastes and interests, then tailor a memorable experience for them. Each staff member has a small ‘above and beyond’ budget they can spend at their own discretion on guests. This can be used for small gifts such as flowers for birthdays, heart-shaped chocolates for anniversaries or Santa hats for families staying over the Christmas holidays.

We know this area really well and love to share recommendations for restaurants, local wineries and beautiful spots. We also find that guests really appreciate us giving quirky, off-the-beaten-track destinations for hiking or bike trails – places that wouldn’t have occurred to them. For example, one Sunday, some guests wanted to go to Orta, a medieval town with a monastery. We spoke to them at 9am, and let them know that at 11am, the 70 nuns from the monastery would march out through the church singing. This only happens once a week, and our guests got there in time to see this unique spectacle. That’s the kind of inside information you can only give if you live in the area.

We’re also constantly looking for ways to improve the guest experience. Early on, we made the decision to change the accommodation to couples only, and focused on creating a really romantic environment, which our guests really appreciate. We know this because we’ve had many proposals here, and these couples then decide to come back every year to celebrate their anniversary.

Making every meal memorable

As a B&B, we pull out all the stops to deliver a spectacular breakfast. I believe that you start eating with your eyes, so we try to add a lot of colours. For example, in summer we use a lot of fruit, like melon, watermelon, red grapes, pomegranate seeds, local strawberries, blueberries and raspberries. Our chef Sonia is a magician at displaying food in an appetising way. She prepares local delicacies such as croissants with cheese, tomatoes and olive oil that she cuts in two so it looks like they’re smiling. She makes piadine which is a type of Italian flatbread, with cheese, ham and vegetables. 

We’ve put a lot of effort into finding local providers for our food. We get our free range eggs from a local farmer, we’ve found the best supplier of jam, we get organic oranges sent up from Sicily, and we have honey that’s made just five minutes from here. There’s a local farm that provides yoghurt, cheese and milk, and the milk is in glass bottles which is important as we say that our breakfast is plastic-free.

Another member of our team cooks a special heart-shaped chocolate cake using Prunent, a red wine from the Ossola Valley, using her own secret recipe. Our guests absolutely love it, but they can’t have the recipe! 

White Lilac B&B

Sharing our commitment to sustainable travel with our guests

We have always been committed to sustainability. One of the main reasons we moved here from Milan was to live in a less polluted environment. When we renovated the property we tried to retain as many original features as possible and used natural, healthy materials such as straw, clay, wood and hemp for all the internal walls. These materials regulate temperature and humidity, and have good acoustic properties as well. Many guests ask us for advice or compliment us on this rare combination of materials and we believe that they are inspired by what we have created here.

We try to spread the benefits of tourism throughout the local area. Our guests are encouraged to visit and support local businesses, including many genuine factory outlets, and to enjoy the local produce with wine and cheese tastings at nearby vineyards. We have two electric bikes for our guests to explore the local area, and provide maps of local walks starting right from our doorstep. By providing a locally-sourced breakfast with no single-use plastic, we hope to show our guests that they can easily replicate these small steps when they go home.

 

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Takeaway
  • Taking the time to chat with your guests to find out what they like to do on holiday helps you understand their needs and expectations to go the extra mile
  • Put your local knowledge to good use – some guests really appreciate it if you can help them organise their stay and provide tailored recommendations for activities
  • Leveraging local food suppliers will help you create memorable meals and encourage guests to visit nearby farms and wineries
  • Creating a memorable romantic holiday experience for couples can pay off – guests who have proposed here come back every year to celebrate their anniversary
  • A commitment to more sustainable travel, such as no single-use plastic, can help influence guests to adopt different behaviours when they return home