One of the world’s leading independent hoteliers has died.
Roberto E Wirth, 72, proprietor and General Manager of the Hotel Hassler Roma, which stands at the top of the famous Spanish Steps in Rome, passed away on Sunday.
Famous guests included Princess Diana, Steve Jobs and Tom Cruise. Audrey Hepburn stayed at the hotel while shooting the 1953 Oscar-winning movie Roman Holiday.
Roberto E Wirth, 72, proprietor and General Manager of Hotel Hassler in Rome, has died aged 72
Grace Kelly also took up residence at the hotel.
Wirth’s two children, Roberto Jr and Veruschka, said: ‘It is with deep sorrow and sadness that we have to announce the sudden death of our father, Roberto Enrico Wirth.’
The cause of death has not been revealed.
Born deaf, Mr Wirth came from a family of Swiss hotel owners. His father, Oscar, took ownership of Hotel Hassler in 1921. During the Second World War, the hotel was requisitioned by the U.S. Air Force to serve as its Rome headquarters.
The building was demolished, completely rebuilt, and opened again in 1947.
When Oscar passed away, his wife and Wirth’s mother, Carmen, ran the hotel.
Wirth became the hotel’s general manager in 1982 and then took full ownership in 2001 when he bought his brother’s 50 per cent stake in the hotel to own 100 per cent of it.
Filming for Mission Impossible 7, starring Tom Cruise, taking place at the foot of the Spanish Steps in 2020, with Hotel Hassler Roma in the background. Cruise is among the famous faces to stay at the hotel
Above is the Hassler Penthouse. Wirth became the hotel’s general manager in 1982 and then took full ownership in 2001
When he was younger, Wirth attended Gallaudet University, Rochester Institute of Technology and Cornell University, where he graduated with a BA in hotel management.
Throughout Wirth’s life, he supported the local and international deaf community in many different ways by establishing funds, scholarships, and serving on boards.
He was the founder and president of CABSS (Assistance Center for Deaf and Deafblind Children), a non-profit organisation that is dedicated to supporting deaf and deafblind children, and their families.
He established Il Palazzetto, a unique 16th-century Roman palazzo situated right by the Spanish Steps and just a few steps away from the Hassler.
Wirth considered the Hassler his passion, home and family heritage. Above is the Hassler Bar
Il Palazzetto encompasses four intimate hotel rooms, and two spectacular panoramic terraces on the 4th and 5th floors as well as indoor spaces (open-air garden, library room and salone with a fireplace) on the second floor for private events.
Besides managing the restaurants of the Hassler and Il Palazzetto, he was also a consultant to several restaurants abroad, including the Italian restaurants ‘Travertino’ of the Oberoi hotel New Delhi, and ‘Vetro’ of the Oberoi Mumbai.
He received numerous personal awards such as ‘Independent Hotelier of the World 2005’ by Hotels magazine, one of the most prestigious publications in the hospitality industry; the Prize for Economic Achievement by Rome’s City Government in an event presided by the city’s mayor (February 2006); and the ‘Marco Aurelio’ 2006 prize for Tourism from the Vice Mayor of Rome, Mariapia Garavaglia. This prestigious award recognises those who have distinguished themselves in the Roman tourism sector, emphasising the importance that tourism has for the economic and social life of Italy’s capital.
In November 2014 he was awarded the ‘Leading Legend Award’ by The Leading Hotels of the World, for his commitment to the art of independent hospitality.
Wirth was divorced but continued to work with his ex-wife Astrid Schiller Wirth, pictured above with the hotelier in 2003
Wirth received a BSc degree at Cornell University’s ‘School of Hotel Administration’ (Ithaca, New York) as well as Honorary Doctorates in Humane Letters both from Lynn University (Boca Raton, Florida) in May 2006 and from Gallaudet University, in Washington DC, in May 2009.
He is also one of the eight deaf recipients of the DeafNation Inspiration Award (for Hotel Hospitality) which was granted in August 2012 in Las Vegas, during the first edition of what was to become an important international annual appointment.
In 2016 he was awarded an Honorary Degree in Human Letters by the prestigious John Cabot University in Rome, Italy.
Wirth considered the Hassler his passion, home and family heritage. His commitment, dedication and personal touch led the hotel to achieve its position as one of Europe’s top hotels and the preferred destination for elite society’s sojourns in Rome.
He also owned the Hotel Vannucci in Citta della Pieve, a town in Umbria.
Wirth was divorced but continued to work with his ex-wife Astrid Schiller Wirth, a designer who created the stunning interiors of Hotel Hassler.