Rather than obviously branding the rooms, Bvlgari has simply made sure that everything spells out the brand's core values of beauty and luxury in its Bali hotel
The people carrier bounced me along the muddy Balinese road, passing a small black sign, so low on the ground that it might easily go unnoticed. The sign says "Bvlgari Hotel, left", and it's just the first example of the understated manner in which the Italian jeweller, which operates two hotels, has gone about breaking into the hospitality industry.
I visited Bvlgari's breathtaking hotel in Bali last month, a cliff-side resort on the south coast of the Indonesian island which bears the jeweller's name but is operated by Marriott, and in every way it was beyond expectations. But what intrigued me most was the subtle way Bvlgari, which opened the hotel in 2006, has branded the location.
Despite being famous for their huge jewels, the hotel isn't ostentatious - there's not a blinging chandelier in sight, and much has been done to integrate local style into the design, which was created by Italian architect Antonio Citterio. It's all dark wood, breezy curtains and lush tropical greenery in each of the 50 personal, thatched sea-view villas. Rather than obviously branding the rooms, Bvlgari has simply made sure that everything spells out the brand's core values of beauty and luxury.
There's a spa for those wishing to indulge in more even more beauty, and facials there are done using the latest addition to the Bvlgari family - a range of cosmetics based on Gem Essence, a beauty elixir containing gemstones that the company created in its own dermatology research lab in Switzerland.
The purpose here, of course is to immerse the guest in the Bvlgari experience, so of course shopping is necessary to complete the trip - and there's more to buy than just hotel bathrobes (although there are two different kinds on offer here). Bvlgari Bali-stamped sheets, tea cups, ornaments, gigantic Balinese statues and fabrics can be picked up in the hotel gift shop, while a Bvlgari store next door sells the fabled jewellery, as well as leathergoods and perfumes.
Armani pulled off a similar feat in Dubai when they opened the first Armani Hotel in the Burj Khalifa, furnishing the rooms with items from the Italian designer's homeware ranges and stocking the bar with Armani-brewed beverages. With a hotel from Versace to open in Dubai later this year, the opportunities for fashion companies to market themselves to new customers seems unending - although whether the latter Italian brand, known for its ostentation, will do it in such a subtle manner remains to be seen.