Interview with Ovidio Guaita

Interview with Ovidio Guaita

Interview with Ovidio Guaita

by Paolo Gerbaldo
(from Resorts Magazine n. 100, March 2023)

Ovidio Guaita al Ritz-Carlton Miami
travel influencer Ovidio Guaita at Ritz-Carlton Miami

100 issues. An unconventional path from digital to paper. But above all an Editor-in-Chief more influencer than a journalist, who has traveled to 167 countries and published over 30 photographic volumes. But who is Ovidio Guaita “The Photographer”, as they call him abroad? Paolo Gerbaldo asked him in the only interview he gave.


Ovidio, not only a journalist, photographer and influencer, but also the founder of the Travel Academy, the first question is a must! How has the world of luxury changed in the last twenty years?

Nothing will be like before. This is the mantra that has accompanied us in recent decades, studded with continuous innovations. Starting from the total oblivion of the famous three Cs: Concorde, Champagne, Caviar. This was when everyone dreamed of dining on caviar and Champagne. Then there were the infamous gold-plated faucets of the much-photographed but little-seen sheikhs' suites and the Rolls-Royces. It is certainly not that these symbols of opulence have disappeared today. Even now if you go to the Peninsula in Hong Kong you have the Rolls that awaits you at the airport, but nevertheless, today there is a completely different air. Indeed, nothing will be the same again, especially after the pandemic.


Let's start with catering. Caviar is now like foie gras, unsustainable from the point of view of the source, i.e. the animal. Suppressing the fish to extract its eggs, or preventing the animal from resting to force-feed it and make it grow faster are no longer acceptable practices. Like gasoline: tolerated but on expiry. Champagne then, the much-loved royal bubbles, celebrated by the Tsars who decreed their qualitative supremacy, are now available in all supermarkets. Let's understand each other, it is an excellent sparkling wine, but not superior to the best Franciacorta and some Trento DOCs.

So what is luxury in 2023? We could replace the three Cs with the three S's: Silence, Space, Service. Silence, because we no longer know it and when we discover it, perhaps in the desert, it becomes deafening. Space, because our homes are becoming increasingly technological but also increasingly smaller, especially in large centers. Service, because we no longer tolerate so many people around us and we prefer a few, efficient, invisible collaborators. Luxury today is spacious, silent and invisible.

Why did RM come to be?

The magazine originated from an act of pride. After 15 years as a correspondent for VilleGiardini and Grand Gourmet and as an author for Mondadori, the almost simultaneous change of directors inexorably decreed a change of collaborators. And from the 4/5 months of travel a year, I found myself knocking on the doors of the various magazines to offer services. It took a few months to understand that it wasn't working and that we needed a new idea, something radically different. In 2005 there was digital but it was all pdfs.  I brought browsable digital magazines to Italy. RM was the first online browsable magazine together with Latitudes, I don't know who started first, but, in any case, it was just a difference of months if not weeks. At first it was an object of curiosity but then the numbers convinced me, and I must admit that it was even sooner than I thought. Nothing will ever be the same again.  In fact, today paper magazines exist only if the business model provides for direct distribution and revenue is not based on advertising - the exact opposite of when I was at Mondadori.

Why read RM?

Not to dream as some would say. A 300-euro per year subscription is not for dreamers, but for demanding and wealthy travelers. We always say, if you ask how much it costs, it's not for you. RM is now one of the very few publications that sends journalists to all the structures reviewed. Wherever they are. And sorry it's not cheap.  It requires huge investments which translate into a high cost. But this practice also ensures valuable first-hand information for those who have resources but no time.  And when they finally carve out a week, they don't want a trivial 5* but an exclusive, quiet, design hotel with super-efficient staff, a refined and healthy cuisine, a large spa, a gym and possibly other sporting activities. RM chooses, visits and reviews those properties that offer all this.

From birth online to current print and digital editions. Why this choice?

In 2005 there was curiosity about digital - not yet a real market, but curiosity about browsable digital magazines and we created a standard. There was no software yet so we had to design a reader in Flash that flipped through the pages. But it was worth it. The readers came but not the advertising investments and nothing could be charged online at the time.  The market was not mature. So in 2010 we switched to paper, just when many traditional magazines were beginning to introduce browsable digital editions as well. Counting on 100k online readers from around the world (for a free edition) we started a campaign to convert them into print subscribers. It has worked, especially in Italy and the UK and so we focused on those markets. For us, advertising has always only been an ancillary revenue.

Can you tell us about these one hundred numbers in a clip?

Tiring but also incredibly rewarding. I have met wonderful people, talented employees who are excited to be part of the Resorts family. Jokingly (but not too much) I often say "resortians" you are born.  You don't evolve. Resorts is an approach; it takes dedication, taste, sensitivity. You have to “feel” a structure in order to be able to evaluate it. The training of collaborators is continuous, we must all be tuned in to produce coherent and comparable evaluations. All in all, it has been a nice trip, but we're still on the road.

Can you define luxury travel for us?

I imagine by trip you mean an itinerary aimed at visiting places rather than a sojourn experience. Travel for me is to see after looking; Interacting with locals, trying cuisine, habits and traditions. But also without useless masochism, punitive hours, without senseless marathons. Traveling uncomfortably doesn't make great travelers. I also always say this to the members of the Travel Academy's Century's Great Voyagers club, which, as you recall, I founded a couple of years ago. There we have really adventurous characters, who travel in a spartan way and also with limited budgets. However, you are not precisely  a traveler because you are uncomfortable but because you understand, you compare yourself, you respect. These are universal concepts and are even more valid for luxury travel. The availability of money does not give the right to be arrogant - neither at home nor on the road. Then if you go on an elephant itinerary in the savannah and during a stop you find a banquet with a linen tablecloth, chilled sparkling wine and staff ready to serve you with white gloves, fine. It's not that you're not a great traveler for that.  It is sufficient for you to know where you are, what you're seeing and that you respect those who allow you those luxuries.

Hand luggage or checked-in luggage?

I have traveled around the world twice, staying on the road with hand luggage for 60 days. It saves a lot of time at airports, but also in hotels when unpacking and repacking. But let's face it, clearly it can only be done if there are no changes in climate.  If boots, jackets and sweaters are needed, it can no longer be done.

What does a resort have to offer to be from RM?

Not luxury but exclusivity. Not opulence but minimalism. Not attention but efficiency. In a nutshell, not form but substance. Stars, affiliations, chains are indicators but then every structure is different. Even the legendary Four Seasons are not all the same.

Will there be anything new in the next issues?

RM is in the making, an idea that evolves and often anticipates readers' expectations. We are experiencing hyperbole. In the 90s it took years to switch from texts on diskette sent by courier to texts via modem, now we are already at AI with ChatGPT writing them for us. Hyperbole now rises towards infinity. Every prediction could be proved wrong tomorrow. However, we are on the human side and will continue to give (verified) advice to get the best out of a stay. This is our job and the subscription retention rate confirms that we are on the right track.

Having passed the milestone of one hundred issues, Resorts Magazine will continue to be, for its readers, a fundamental compass with which to orient themselves in the international panorama of top-level hospitality.

You can follow Ovidio on Instagram, TikTok, YouTube and Facebook.

Interview with Ovidio Guaita.
Interview with Ovidio Guaita March 2023.
Scroll to top