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Michil Costa

Meet the visionary hotelier redefining the essence of sustainable travel, where culture takes precedence and the call for humanity penetrates with power, wisdom, and poetic allure.


By GIOVANNA G. BONOMO

June, 2024



portrait picture of Michil Costa
In Corvara Michil Costa manages Hotel La Perla, a member of The Leading Hotels of the World, as well as the Berghotel Ladinia, and in the Val d'Orcia, Tuscany, the Hotel Posta Marcucci.


With a fervent dedication to sustainability and a profound belief in the power of genuine hospitality, Michil Costa challenges the prevailing norms of industrialized tourism, championing a new era rooted in environmental stewardship, community well-being, and a deep respect for humanity.



LF ITALY: What is and what specific challenges do you see arising from tourist monoculture in the Alps, and how do you propose addressing them?


MICHIL COSTA: In order to counter the threat posed by the tourist monoculture - which is based on development models that belong to the past, such as the launch of new heavy tourist infrastructures, just think of what is being built in Cortina for the upcoming Winter Olympics Game, and old stereotypes that praise the mountains as an uncontaminated place when this is not the case - we need a new, conscious, respectful outlook. The solution lies in creating a unitary geopolitical governance extended to all the Alps, hence transregional and transnational. Because tourism must also be governed, and it is we who must decide where to direct the flows of those who want to see the Alps.


LF: How can the principles of common good, sustainability, and humanity be effectively integrated into the tourism industry?


MC: Through new policies that are far removed from what is still happening today. People continue to think about the mountains by building new ski resorts, new extra-large - as well as extra-luxury - mega-hotels. All this while forgetting about global warming, ongoing wars and all that goes with it. Instead, it is precisely in the balance between territory and community, in ceasing to think only in terms of profit, in the prudent management of resources that we can envisage a future for the mountains.


LF:What are some potential long-term consequences of continued environmental exploitation in the Dolomites, and how urgent do you believe it is to address these issues?


MC: Urgent? We are already out of time as they say in cycling terminology. I've been repeating the same things for years, and I'm not the only one doing it, of course. While it is frustrating, on the other hand I can see new glimmers of light, especially thanks to the new generations who seem to me to be much further ahead, much more far-sighted, less spoilt by an affluence that has clouded the mind of those of us who belong to generations gone by.


LF: Why should, and how can, tourists contribute to the shift towards more sustainable and responsible tourism?


MC: Tourists, if they are not already, must be educated with virtuous behaviour on the part of their hosts. How can we expect a sustainability-oriented tourist if we let him do what he wants?

I am thinking of the Dolomite passes that in summer become like Rome's ring road: clogged, full of noise from cars and motorbikes speeding along at full speed, unsustainable. If we do not impose new rules, it is difficult then to ask tourists not to do what we first allow them to do.


LF:How do you propose balancing the need for tourism and economic development with the preservation of the natural environment in popular travel destinations like the Dolomites?


MC: With a targeted strategy that leads to a closed number, with the limitation of concessions of new pipelines, with the reduction of beds instead of continuing to increase them, with the seven-year reservation obligation for those who want to access the Alps, with the prices of rooms calmed according to the impact of co2 concerning the origin but also the lifestyle of the tourist, with the governing of flows, moving tourists from the hotspots, which must have limited access, to areas of the Alps that suffer from depopulation and need young people who live there, with a sincere and honest tourist attraction, with the reduction of car and motorbike traffic by encouraging other forms of mobility, with the prohibition to build new roads, if at all, restoring existing ones, with the extension of the seasons, and I could go on and  on...


LF: What / who inspired you to advocate for a culture of hospitality based on these values?


MC:  The culture of hospitality must be based on eclecticism, thus avoiding standardization. From Frank Zappa to Aristotle or Josef Kostner, a Ladin artist, I like to pursue associations of thought, to perceive the creativity of others. My model of perfect hospitality is that represented by Philomena and Bauci in Ovid's Metamorphoses. No more walls to erect, or barges to sink in the sea of western egoism.


LF: How do you differentiate between hospitality and tourism?


MC: Hospitality is a form of true welcome, where the guest enters your world for a short time and where there is a mutual exchange and mutual growth; tourism, when based on the standardization of behaviours, is only a form of consumption.


LF: What is luxury for you?


MC: The real luxury for me is freedom of thought. Today more than ever. We are going through a time when sovereignty and populism are seriously endangering the basic principles of democracy, the true fruit of European thought, which we should instead defend to the death.


LF:What is La Dolce Vita according to Michil?


MC: La Dolce Vita is a masterpiece of Italian cinematography; for me it is a solitary walk on some Dolomite peak, a good cigar in peace, being surrounded by beauty: e naufragar m'è dolce in questo mare.*


* It is sweet to be shipwrecked in this sea (from Giacomo Leopardi's famous poem 'The Infinite' born of Leopardi's yearning to travel beyond his restrictive home town of Recanati and experience more of the world which he had studied.



Credits: Photography by Stefano Butturini

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