The Regina Palace Hotel is proud to tell its own history that spans one hundred years.
To this end, the centenary celebrations in 2008 were marked by the publication of a book.
In 1806, using the Napoleonic Route, the first tourists also began arriving and a century later, with the opening of the Simplon Tunnel, members of the European and worldwide belle époque arrived too.
Stresa was making great strides forward, particularly because of the presence of the Royal family. The hotels were always packed full of important guests.
Responding to this demand, a group of forward-thinking pioneers of the emerging hotel industry founded the Italian Company for the Hotels of Lake Maggiore (Società Anonima Italiana per gli Alberghi del Lago Maggiore) in 1906 that purchased the then famous De Martini Villa that was subsequently demolished to make way for the new hotel.
The Regina opened in 1908.
The expansion of the hotel and of Stresa was halted briefly by the first world war but the immediate post war period witnessed the return of large numbers of distinguished guests wanting occupy the hotel’s luxurious suites. These included Queen Sofia of Greece and the composer, Pietro Mascagni, who often composed music in the garden and who returned on 25th April 1937, as witnessed by the signature in the Hotel’s Golden Book).
The group of Stresa businessmen, who in 1906 had acquired the De Martini Villa to build the Regina Palace, frightened-off by the long drawn-out recession and the slow economic recovery, decided to sell the hotel to the Bossi family in 1922. The different horse contests began that were to bring prestige to the city and its hotels.
The year is 1926 and George Bernard Shaw is staying at the Regina. Some of his writings, jealously guarded by the hotel, recall the “splendid welcome and a desire to return to Stresa”.
In the early thirties the Prince of Piedmont and future King of Italy, Humbert II, stayed at the hotel with his consort, Maria Josè of Belgium.
This was followed by more famous names which included, amongst others, Princess Jolanda of Savoy, Princess Margaret of England, King Hussein of Jordan and King Farouk of Egypt. The famous Stresa International Conference, aimed at rebuilding Europe’s economic-financial and political structure, took place in 1935.
The period of the catwalk beauty pageants, between the forties and fifties, lead to Stresa becoming a centre of attention for the movie world. The finals of the Miss Italy contest were staged for the first time at the Regina Palace in 1946 and continued uninterruptedly until 1949 and then be held once more in 1958.
It was the launch pad for young women such as Gina Lollobrigida e Lucia Bosè who, in time, became famous. In 1948 Prince Antonio De Curtis, whose stage name was Totò, along with Walter Chiari arrived in Stresa to shoot a movie with the winner of the Miss Italy contest - “Toto’ al giro d’Italia” (Totò at the cycle tour of Italy).
In 1974 the hotel was sold once again and was purchased by several families from Stresa.
Since then the successes have been numerous, ranging from conferences to the Nato meeting held in 1984.
The Regina Hotel hosted the Debutantes Grand Ball for the first time in 1995, Vienna on the Lake, which was to become a permanent fixture every winter.
Ecofin 2003 once again placed Stresa under the public spotlight and the Regina Hotel hosted all of the press conferences.
In recent years the Hotel has welcomed personalities from the world of finance, politics and entertainment.
Since 1996 a tastefully conservative restoration has taken the Regina Hotel into the second millennium but without altering its architectural or artistic features.