There is no better place to hide away from the hustle and bustle of London than the iconic Brown's Hotel. After strolling around Mayfair, we caught up with the Forte Sisters, Irene, Founder of Irene Forte Skincare, and Lydia, Director of Food & Beverage of the Rocco Forte Hotel group.
Discover YOLKE x Brown's Hotel luxury sleep package - Forte Winks.
We love that Brown’s, and the Rocco Forte Hotel Group is family owned and you play such a prominent role in the daily running of the hotel. How do you support each other as sisters working in the business together?
Lydia: Only with a sister can you be so different yet understand each other so completely. We have totally different personalities but we're from the same place and ultimately care about all the same things. The best thing about Irene is that all our differences complement each other. As the older sister I've often forged the path, but the older we get the more I rely on Irene's advice and opinions. We like to bounce ideas off of each other. We do a lot of informal chatting about the business on WhatsApp, in person, on the weekends.
Irene: The best thing about Lydia is her honesty. She is a great sounding board for anything I'm working on so I always go to her first. She's also incredibly bright, so I completely value her opinion! My sister is my 'wing woman' and best friend. We have very different personalities, but we really complement each other; it just works. We always chat when we're in the office, and share ideas, feedback, etc. We also have a sibling WhatsApp where hotels are the main topic of conversation.
Where is your favourite place to sleep in the world?
Lydia: Anywhere with a spectacular view when you open the curtains - the higher the better.
Irene: I love being at Verdura Resort in Sicily. It’s wonderful because there is so much to experience there. You can either completely relax and enjoy the beach and spa, or you can go on hikes in the mountains and play golf and tennis. Waking up to the sound of the birds and stepping out onto the balcony to take in the views of the sea is an amazing feeling.
There is also nothing better than being at home in your own bed!
With hotels across the UK & Europe, you lead a very jet-setting lifestyle. What are your go-travel must-haves, tips, and tricks?
Lydia: I plan my outfits in advance to pack as little as possible and keep them all matching in one base colour: navy / black / neutral. I tend to include fun, colourful sunglasses & jewellery to lift things up.
If you’re packing like a foodie, remember strategic clothing – something loose so you’re not restricted when eating large meals.
I have a permanently packed, clear wash bag with essential items always ready to go such as an extra-long cable for charging my iPhone and Irene Forte Skincare minis.
Irene: I carry a lot of Irene Forte sachets with me when I travel so I don't need to bring masses of products or skimp on my beauty routine. The Almond Cleansing Milk, Hibiscus Serum, Olive Eye Cream, Prickly Pear Face Cream, Hibiscus Night Cream and Pistachio Face Mask sachets are essential. Another tip of mine is to bring Lugol’s Iodine Tincture 15% and add 4 drops of it in my water to drink on the plane. It counteracts against air-conditioning germs and supports my immunity.
In terms of clothes, I always ensure that I have trainers and some kind of activewear, just in case I have time to do some sport. I currently love Lucas Hugh's activewear. I always have a nice pair of silk pyjamas - the Yolke pyjamas are my new favourites! Then, I always bring a few blazers and trousers that can be mixed and matched, and an array of t-shirts and shirts, plus heals that go with the trousers. I also bring lots of different jewellery to spruce up an outfit.
If you could pick your favourite meal from one of the Rocco Forte restaurants, what would it be?
Lydia: Fulvio Pierangelini's cacio e pepe ravioli at Hotel de Russie in Rome. It is an ultra-delicate and light pasta which packs a creamy, cheesy punch. Also recently, for a new concept we're creating, white chocolate and saffron ice cream with caviar on top. Sounds weird but it's utterly delicious.
Irene: I absolutely love the Caesar Salad at Charlie's by Adam Byatt at Brown's Hotel in London. This may sound boring, but it is the best salad I've ever had. It is beautifully presented, a generous portion, crunchy, and utterly delicious.
How do you balance business and downtime?
Lydia: When I'm working, I'm working. When I'm off, I'm off. I rarely check my phone on the weekends unless I have something specific to get done that can't wait until Monday. It's hard though, I always feel guilty about not spending enough time on something - whether it's family, work, friends or me!
Irene: Balance is very challenging; especially given I have my own business. However, to keep sane, I ensure that I follow a good self-care routine when I'm not working:
• Sleep: I sleep 8.5 hours per night, and I never jeopardise sleep for work. The book, ‘Why We Sleep?’ by Matthew Walker is great for tips on sleep and why it is so important.
• Diet: I believe having a healthy and balanced diet is vital for both mind and body. I’ve grown up on a Mediterranean diet, so lots of fruits, whole grains and healthy fats. Hence why I also like to talk about feeding the skin, and having the Mediterranean Diet for Skin.
• Exercise: endorphins, blood flow, healthy joints. I exercise four times per week.
• Meditation: there are so many scientific studies showing the benefits of Meditation, such as reducing cortisol and adrenaline, and replacing it with dopamine and serotonin. I did a Vedic meditation course (comes from the Veda, the source of yoga, meditation, and Ayurvedic medicine in India). I’m not great at doing this daily, but it’s a useful tool when I’m under high stress.
• Skincare Regime: I, of course, have a great skincare routine, and do regular facials and at-home rituals. I believe in psycho-cosmetics, so if a product smells and feels amazing, it gives you an added benefit. This is part of the reason why I formulated such experiential products.
How does YOLKE’s proud ethos of being ‘by women, for women’ resonate with you both as businesswomen?
Lydia: I think some of the best business minds I know are female and I certainly think that women know what women want better than men do! It's important we all support each other. I also hope we'll be able to get to a place where it's not a point of differentiation to be a woman in business. We will just all be business people!
Irene: I have a similar ethos for my business - so it really resonates with me. We’re a female only team, and even our Scientific Director is a woman. I believe that all women have the capability to become empowered leaders, and we need to support each other.