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Jun 8, 2012 08:32 PM

Palazzo Margherita Basillicata

Anybody been to this Francis Ford Coppola hotel/restaurant in Italy? Would appreciate your

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  1. Yes, I was down there about 6 weeks ago. It was heavenly, if very expensive. The town of Bernalda, where it is located, isn't much to speak of, but has it's own charm in that's it's just a lazy town in Basilicata. The hotel itself though, is splendid. It feels more like a private villa where you are visiting (very wealthy) friends. The food, all prepared by Filomena, in the big eat in kitchen, is fantastic. While there she even gave me a one on one pasta making lesson.

    2 Replies
    1. re: minchilli

      For the record, the cheapest (seasonal/size of room) rates are about 1,000 euros a night, but that does includes VAT and breakfast. All other meals are separate. The place, from what their web site shows, is what I expect it to be, but even if I could afford it, this is not in any way the Italy I treasure. Or would ever think of visiting. Sorry, but I'm now thinking of a sweet, small old hotel in the Cilento at 80 euros a night with spectacular views and an open, welcoming, amazing kitchen whose women often made local dishes I just mentioned wanting to try.

      1. re: bob96


        Don't miss Basilicata in your travels. The food -- and wine! -- is just a joy, and the culture, including art, in around Matera, plus the Dolomiti scenery, is a spectacular side of Italy, much of it unspoiled (as is the food). I plan to put up a scrapbook/blog somewhere online of my reactions to Basilicata and Puglia, and I'll post a link on Chowhound, in hopes of encouraging more people to go experience Basilicata.

    2. Hope you aren't annoyed that I would share an experience even though I haven't stayed in Palazzo Margherita in Basilicata, but on a recent trip to neighboring Puglia I stayed in two different many-roomed luxurious lodgings with lush-hush gardens -- one a lavishly restored country house and the other a lavishly restored masseria -- both of which were situated in otherwise charmless agribusiness landscapes, near economically depressed towns. Even though they were nowhere near as expensive as Palazzo Margherita, I personally found the juxtaposition and insularity of these huge gated manors just a weird experience -- although maybe not out of keeping with the historic reality, and I do certainly appreciate the economic benefit high-end tourism brings where it is needed.

      I also visited Basilicata during the same trip and loved the food and wine. Food in both regions tends to be served in mountainous abundance, although Palazzo Margherita may step out of the norm of excess. Pacing plus digestivi became a necessity for us. I grew very fond of Amaro Lucano!

      1. yes i have stayed there and i unfortunately ate there too. the food was bar none the worst i have even been served in the regaion and, with all due respect to filomena, the pasta was overcooked beyond belief and the rest of the food was a parade of under seasoned/out of season produce. there are way more interesting places to stay in basilicata, which is far more captivating than any luxury boutique hotel.


        8 Replies
        1. re: katieparla

          It still stuns me that Coppola has built a place with these rates--up to 1,500 a day in season, in effect making this a soulless theme park fitted out with moguls and other pretenders. The high end weekly charge, with food and other indulgences, is not far from what a local working family might earn in a year.

          1. re: bob96

            Actually, his movies always veered toward excess too, ultimately to the point of collapse.

            1. re: barberinibee

              What do you suppose is the target guest demographic for this hotel?

              Speaking of Bernalda and environs, I've got La Locandiera on the list (comments?) and would love to get another restaurant recommendation in the immediate area (will be based at San Teodoro Nuovo agriturismo near Marconia; may take one dinner there, if offered during our stay)



              1. re: erica

                target demo is rich americans. there are quite a number of casual places in bernalda serving grilled horse and homemade sausages, they are only open for dinner and are quite characteristic of the town. i have not eaten at la locanderia or S Teodoro Nuovo, unfortunately.



                1. re: katieparla

                  Seems to me the target demo is very rich Americans, or Russians tired of Tuscany. Love how the style magazine pieces on the place make these ridiculous comparisons between the designer heaven inside the gates and the "charming" backlot authenticity outside--sleep in the Sofia Coppola bedroom, have a spa day, then step outside for 5 minutes to smile and watch the cheerful contadini chug by in their cute Apis. You can have it all..

                  1. re: bob96

                    yes indeed. i don't find this type of tourism very interesting. if anything it's offensive to insert conspicuous consumption into such an area.

          2. re: katieparla

            Odd experience Katie, and totally different from mine. The four meals I had at PM all were based on locally sourced and seasonal ingredients. The pasta was all hand made and perfectly cooked. And I've also spoken with at least a dozen other people who have been there since . Many food and travel writers all, with quite a bit of experience in the kitchen and at the table, as well as seasoned travelers.And all of them reported back experiences similar to mind in terms of the food. Yours is the only negative feedback I've heard from anyone after staying there.


            1. re: minchilli

              And that is exactly why I ask locals and not colleagues where to eat!

          3. I've not been to this place, nor do I intend to, although I have visited Basilicata. Even if it were in my budget. Reading a rave review article about it in a recent issue of an Italy newsletter was enough to turn my stomach; it actually verged on parody.
            But I imagine that one's opinion of the food and service, and accommodations, of such an over-the-top expensive place depends a lot on whether or not the reviewer paid for meals and accommodations.

            50 Replies
            1. re: grandpamarian

              Actually, Grandpamarian, I like to think that is not true. That the review of any place I talk about is influenced by whether or not I paid for it or not. I'm a professional food and travel writer, and like many in my profession, some meals I pay for myself, but some are paid for by the publications I work for. (as was the case of PM). This is pretty normal for this type of work.

              And Katie, I of course ask the locals where to eat as well. But since PM had barely opened at the time I went down there, there was no way a local could recommend it. And it was not the point of my being there, which was instead to review the hotel and the food they served to guests.


              1. re: minchilli

                What happens when you're on a paid review junket, let's say from Travel + Leisure, and you just don't like the food? Write about it in a kind of generic, noncommital way? Or do you never not like the food in these cases?

                1. re: bob96

                  If I'm paid to go to a place, and I don't like it, I don't write about it at all. I'm usually not doing a 'review' but a guide to travel. So I focus on providing information that is positive and helpful to travelers. For instance, if the food had not been outstanding at PM, but the hotel was, I may have said something along the lines of 'go there for the hotel, but head out of the building for food'. but that was not the case

                2. re: minchilli

                  I've also noticed recent positive write-ups for Palazzo Margherita and had wondered whether this is because it is a big newsworthy opening or because the establishment has been effective in deploying its PR budget. Perhaps Minchilli can shed light on whether she and her many food and travel writer friends have been funded by their publications or hosted by the establishment ? And of course, same question as bob96, what happens to the (rare ?) ones who don't like the establishment ? Or does everyone except katieparla think it's great ?

                  1. re: shakti2


                    Surely both. The name Coppola was a guarantee of glossy magazine coverage. Celebrity sells. And since this entire enterprise has been an effort by FFC to help the local economy of his ancestral home, using his celebrity to promote the place was always part of the plan.

                    I think (I hope!) most people who read single-issue glossy magazines devoted to one activity like food or wine understand that the magazine itself is in the business of creating a positive impression of consumption and generate enthusiasm about food, wine, etc,. A few newspapers still pay staff for critical takes on these activities and their vendors. I think most readers can tell the difference, and I think most writers can tell the difference before they accept an assignment.

                    Different food or wine magazines have different policies about how they handle receiving copy they don't want to publish.

                    1. re: shakti2

                      My trip was funded by my publication, not by PM.

                    2. re: minchilli

                      @ minichilli
                      And do you know if the publication you wrote for (which was it), paid for your stay there?

                      1. re: allende

                        @bob96 & allende:

                        Travel + Leisure has a stated policy "Neither editors nor contributors may accept free travel." (from its website). If I'm not mistaken, Elizabeth was on assignment for Travel + Leisure when she stayed in Palazzo Margherita.

                        1. re: barberinibee

                          I assumed Elizabeth was on assignment for T+L, and the magazine had already made an investment in doing something noteworthy about the place. I was just wondering what happens, what gets published if anything, when the experience is disappointing. I assume the coverage and treatment get shaped accordingly to focus on those things that can fill pages regardless.I also have always assumed that all food and travel magazine journalism is celebratory at best, shilling at worst. That's the game, and it can be a useful one for readers, esp. experienced ones. Finally, it's admirable that FFC has decided to plough some attention and money back into Bernalda, but despite its heartwarming location, let's not have any illusions about what the Palazzo is--a neo-aristocratic grand hotel of the most predictably exclusive kind.

                          1. re: bob96

                            Yeah. That was the business model. I don't know that a 3* could have succeeded in that location (and I'm not sure a 5* will, but I tend to think it was the better bet, making the hotel the destination). There is a market for branded luxury dining and exclusive all-inclusive retreats, and I don't think most people have any illusions that the market doesn't include them (unless they win a contest or something). But just like people apparently enjoy peeking in on the British royals, they enjoy reading about luxury destinations.

                            FWIW, I think a writer on assignment who experiences a seriously disappointing stay at a luxury relais warns the editors to keep their distance. After all, the food and wine magazines have a brand to protect as well, and so do the freelancers.

                          2. re: barberinibee

                            @ barberinibee
                            And my question was did T&L pay for her stay?

                            1. re: allende

                              When many magazine travel sections, blogs, etc etc, have features on the same destination, I think a good guess is that the hotel has organized, and covered the costs of, a series of press visits. Just as when features on the same destination appear in many publications within a short span of time--chances are that this coverage is payback for press trips paid for by the tourist boards or individual hotels, cruise lines, etc etc.

                              1. re: erica

                                Of course that's the case. I know it from my friends. The FT has a policy which makes that clear to the reader. Unfortunately, most every other publication does not.

                                Obviously, because of that, there can be no objectivity and we should take what is written here about this place with a grain of salt.

                              2. re: allende


                                I can't speak for em in response to your question, but I will point out that writers and editors at some publications are completely removed from the process of payment -- that is to say, the bill is sent directly to the business side, and they may never know exactly how or what was paid if anything was. At other publications, food/wine writers submit expenses, sometimes to editors, sometimes to the business office, and are re-imbursed. Sometimes food/wine writers are advanced the money. But we do know for certain that food/wine writers who pen articles for T + L cannot accept freebies from vendors yet do not pay for their own meals. Their policy is as clear as FT's, which also pays for a writer's food and wine, not the writers.

                                If the implication of your last remark about "what is written here" is to suggest that what em or Katie Parla wrote here about their opinions of the food at Palazzo Baslicate is based on who paid for their meals, I respectfully disagree. (And why not equally ask katieparla who paid for hers? Because she slammed it?) I take everything written on Chowhound by everyone with a big salt shaker, but even when I discount the opinions of katieparla and minchilli, and don't follow their advice, I feel certain they are merely and honestly reporting here without pay on their tastebuds, and what they write for pay elsewhere is the product of different circumstances, for a different readership (and sometimes differs from what they post here I will point out in case you hadn't noticed).

                                Have you read the T + L article minchilli wrote about Palazzo Margherita? I haven't, but I do not have the impression it was a restaurant review. I could be wrong, but I think the article was mainly a descriptive text to go with a travel pictorial about the place and the people there.

                                1. re: barberinibee

                                  Why doesn’t someone actually look at what EM wrote about Palazzo Margherita for T&L?

                                  She was there to check it out for T&L’s so-called “It List”, which, like so many of T&L’s features, is nothing more than fluff and hype, no matter who pays the bill. She could, in theory, have told T&L that Palazzo Margherita did not qualify for the “It List”, but realistically, how likely was she to give it a negative review? Her blog entries about her visit make it clear that she was thrilled to bits that T&L sent her there.


                                  1. re: Octavian

                                    I read it a while ago when my magazine came and just found it online. Here is the link:

                                    It is a very general overview of the hotel, not a restaurant review.

                                    I always take reviews, articles, tv shows with a grain of salt. If it looks like I may enjoy it I do some research. I find it sad that FFC said he built this to boost tourism in the area and then decided to charge over $1,000 a night. If he really wanted to boost tourism wouldn't a more reasonably priced hotel work better and perhaps be a catalyst for other reasonably priced hotels to build in the area? This gets you one demographic, something more reasonably priced would fit into more peoples budgets and perhaps more peoples travel plans. Or maybe I]'m wrong.

                                    1. re: klc137


                                      I hadn't realized it wasn't behind a paywall. Now that I've read it, I find the T+ L article more matter-of-fact descriptive than a recommendation to go there, and obviously EM is not the creator of an "It" list. For the record, were I a free-lance food/travel writer, I'd be thrilled to bits if T + L asked me to go to Baslilicata to write a description for their "It" list. (If they asked me to go to Puglia, I'd make up an excuse about not being able to go and relate it in such a way that left them with a clear impression I was flattered to be asked and hoping to be asked in the future for some other destination.)


                                      There aren't many people with travel plans to go to Bernalda. FFC built an attraction where there was none (although it is within reasonable drive of some world class sights). I don't believe people need to stay there to eat at the hotel restaurant, so like the super-expensive super-exclusive glam hotel restaurants on Lago di Como or along the Amalfi, people staying an hour away in Matera may be tempted to drive down to Bernalda for lunch in hopes of glimpsing George Clooney or Harrison Ford or Brangelina or one of the Oscar-winning Coppolas, and then take a stroll around town and buy a local product or two. I suspect that's the thinking.

                                      1. re: barberinibee

                                        From what I have read about the location, he build it specifically to increase tourism and help the local economy. I know not many people seek that location out but the purpose was to have that happen which is why I think the price is crazy if his goal is to attract people to the area and bring more money into the area.

                            2. re: allende

                              I know because I paid for it out of pocket and was reimbursed.

                            3. re: minchilli

                              Well, perhaps. But I haven't taken a paid restaurant critic seriously since the days when Mimi Sheraton and Ruth Reichl dined in disguise. For the same reason that clinical trials are done double blind. I enjoy reading travel and food writers if they write well and occasionally show signs of not taking thmselves too seriously. And I might go out of my way for a gelateria if I feel simpatico with someone's tastes.
                              This gushing over everything related to Castello Coppola, however, while irrelevant to my own travel and dining decisions just boggles the mind.

                              1. re: grandpamarian

                                its certainly easier to write comfortably and commercially about restaurants and hotels if you are naturally inclined to be pleased, enthusiastic and to enjoy the ride (I wouldn't necessarily call it gushing) than to be critical ,and self reflective or conscious of local culinary context- thats not really what commercial reviewing of upscale establishments requires.

                                Personally, I believe that Elizabeth was sincere in expressing her liking here for the food she ate at the Castello, just as Katie was sincere in her dislike. Im glad that they both expressed their opinions here since very few "civilians" posting on these boards will be doing so.

                                1. re: jen kalb

                                  Agree, Jen: the world of commercial food, wine, and travel magazines is about shaping enthusiasm and desires, not worrying about identifying failures or disappointments. That's understood, and that's why I stopped buying wine magazines and the edit-advertorial mess that's T+L, though God knows I've done more than my share of trade magazine journalism that served exactly that same role. But I do think it's fair to ask for some disclosure if a writer carries over opinions off their paid assignments, especially to a board such as this. Even if, as you rightly note, so very few civilians will ever need critical advice on a place that's almost completely out of reach. Those who do pay and go, well, I wonder if they sweat the small details about the food anyway.

                                  1. re: bob96


                                    My impression is that a lot of people who pay for luxury class are actually pretty scathing and incredibly nitpicky, more demanding and difficult and complaining. They seem to express more anger than disappointment when a recommended resto doesn't thrill them, more so than when us with smaller wallets head out hoping for the best. Somebody's psychological response to the value of a book or a play is unlikely to affected by what they paid to experience it, but seldom so with meals. Even Gambero Rosso considers price-quality ratios as being of interest. I sometimes think that the higher cost of eating in Venice is one of the reasons people harp on a having eaten a poor meal there.

                                    1. re: barberinibee

                                      Sure, but do you think folks coming to spend 2,000 euros a day for the privilege of being surrounded by Coppola luxury are going to worry about whether the cruschi are from Senese or somewhere else? Or that the local aglianico is maybe a little too young?

                                      1. re: bob96

                                        I doubt somehow that they will be drinking much Aglianico in any event.

                                        1. re: jen kalb

                                          @bob96 and jenkalb,

                                          I don't understand these comments. I think I may be misreading them. Are you saying that people of means aren't foodies? Why wouldn't people with money drink Aglianico? You've lost me here. (The best of it isn't necessarily cheap by the way.)

                                          I couldn't afford to stay at Palazzo Margherita, but I do have friends for whom 2,000 euros is like what 200 is for me, and they spend it accordingly. However, they also cherish local home cooking and are knowledgeable about wine.

                                          Maybe I'm misreading something.

                                          1. re: barberinibee

                                            Im simply saying that many folks who frequent luxury establishments will order prestige products (champagne, barolo, etc) rather than delving into local products, whether or not they are food sophisticates. This place may be an exception, I dont see an online winelist, and indeed they may be offering primarily regional gems for all I know..

                                  2. re: jen kalb

                                    I’m with bob96 on disclosure being a fair thing to seek, on payment and actually also on anonymity, since the experience of a known or hosted promotional writer will differ significantly from a paying guest.

                                    I don’t have a strong view about the sincerity part but will say that I was prompted to raise my original question because it was uncomfortable to read minchilli’s statement to katieparla that she has spoken with ‘many food and travel writers’ and that they all share her positive views. The image of ‘many’ writers going through an efficiently-administered PR mill seems to discount, rather than enhance, the value of their many similar opinions. So why say it unless minchilli is prepared to respond on their rigour as well as her own ?

                                    1. re: shakti2


                                      There is isn't a single person posting on this Chowhound Italy board who, when their recommendation for a restaurant has been challenged -- hasn't retorted "But other people agree with me and I don't know anybody who has your problem." We all back up our opinion by invoking the implied authority of other opinion -- and people go with the consensus. Katie Parla's invocation of the allegedly know-it-all "locals" isn't more reassuring to me than EM's invocation of experienced food writers, good enough to make a living at it. Neither really settles the issue.

                                      One of the difficulties in all journalism is that people who occupy the same world make friends and frequently speak with each other. They sometimes even end up marrying. Of course any consensus is suspect -- for a whole variety of reasons -- but there is no simplistic equation or formula to follow when it comes to restaurant advice. (Like, "opinions from pro food writers are always bad" or "if they didn't pay for the meal, discount the opinion" or "if a PR person brought them and the chef knows them, forget it). In many respects, Gambero Rosso is suspect, Osterie d'Italia isn't upfront about the friendships between Slow Food editore and restaurant owners. Travel + Leisure strikes me as one of the more transparent editorial products out there.

                                      I agree the more information the better and endorse the call for full disclosure of relationships. But Elizabeth Minchilli and Katie Parla both strike me a people with remarkable integrity in a very difficult environment for free lance food writers who aren't born rich and hope not to starve. They have written thousands and thousands of words about the food and culture of Italy here and elsewhere. Most of those words have been offered for free, and were written without any hope of payment simply out of enthusiasm for food, most of which food they have paid for themselves. I think anybody with even the slightest interest in their opinons can figure out where they are coming from and whether or not reading them is useful for making one's own personal dining choices -- and I personally often disagree with both of them.

                                      I think the real problem here is the overall adverse reaction to the concept of Palazzo Margherita, not whether journalists sent to report on it were pros, amateurs, reimbursed or what. None of these issues come up when the subject is a cheaper place.

                                      1. re: barberinibee

                                        There are enough cheap places some of us have reacted in similar ways. I will just throw out the names nerone and taverna fori imperiali out there....
                                        But i agree with most of you say above. With some background knowledge, we all know how to interpret what these writers are saying. I for example discovered years ago that my palate agrees around 99% with katie parla's so life is easy now (since she eats out much more than i do and usually before me, too, i can follow her suggestions blindly). I know she pays attention to taste, quality, seasonality, locality (localness?), sustainability. Maybe less about "authentic" (my interpretation! I would for example say mbfant cares more about authenticity of dishes and a certain atmosphere, which is not always my concern. I repeat this is my understanding & perception of these two food personalities, might not be the case how they see it themselves). I also know that certain publications (i know for sure nyt, for example) do not let their writers take *any* freebies, regardless of if they write about it or not. I for myself am ok with anyone having freebies, as long as i know (thru a disclaimer) when this is the case. Kinda like "today i will tell you about trattoria x, i ate there and a)publication y paid for it b)i paid for it c) i was invited by friends d) i was invited by the owner of the trattoria"
                                        Ps: on ch i generally assume b or c to be the case, except cases like this one we are discussing here.....

                                        1. re: vinoroma


                                          I think lucking into an ideal "virtual dining companion" is key. Years ago, I discovered I generally liked eating in the places Fred Plotkin eats. He often likes dishes that I don't, but we generally seem to attracted to the same regional cuisines and it is rare that I fail to enjoy the ambience of the places he recommends. Like you said, it simplified my travel planning in Italy immensely! If I liked pizza and fried things more, I'd probably have more experience in following Katie Parla's recommendations. I've done well with several of Elizabeth Minchilli's enthusiasms, and have enjoyed some of mbfant's recs for casual dining (but she has scared me off some her other recs by making me think the food was so uninteresting she spends her time there scrutinizing other patron's shoes).

                                        2. re: barberinibee

                                          @barberinibee: To reply to a number of your points. Like Jen, I was generalizing about super wealthy travellers who can be driven by labels and ratings. I'm sure there are diners at the Palazzo who'd try and enjoy a pricey bottle of, say Basilisco or Elena Fuci Aglianico di Vulture, and bless them for it, but the world of the Palazzo is ultimately the sealed world of the grand hotel, and its rustic-luxe food is valued mostly because it comes with the brand. More power to them for showcasing the local, but I do doubt that most of the paying guests would rush to have more of it in a simpler register at some roadside osteria. Just my guess. And again about the disclosure issue. I'm under no illusion about the business of food and travel journalism, which at its best provides a useful service. And there have been a number of discussions here about the limits of Gambero Rosso and Osterie as well. T+L is transparent to the point of visual and content chaos: there is only in it a promotional voice, modulated through broad editorial choices about what to feature (every year, the same regular categories of hot this and undiscovered that). The value provided here by Katie Parla, Elizabeth Minchilli, Maureen Fant and other local reviewers is extraordinary--but I think it's a value that derives not from any appeal to some others' agreement or opinion but to their own, often considerable, expertise, earned from their own experiences, knowledge, and critical sensibilities.

                                          1. re: bob96

                                            OP here.

                                            Wow! I asked a simple question about PM and generated 40+ responses about the hotel, it's cuisine, the morality of upscale tourism in a poor area, the morality of reviewers not paying for their stay/meals, the presumption that rich people who can afford places like PM have no taste or preferences for local finds, the question of whether travel publications will publish negative reviews, especially from potential advertisers, etc, etc.

                                            Thanks so much!

                                            My take (please attack at will):

                                            * Elizabeth (likes PM), Katie (does not like PM) are intelligent and experienced travel writers and critics. I trust the ethics of both and look forward to their articles and posts on Chowhound.

                                            *. Who would expect free lance critics (like Katie and Elizabeth) to pay for their stay/meals at a place to reviewed? That's nonsensical. Their employers should pay!

                                            *. More reasonably, it would be disturbing if their employers (eg Travel + Leisure, NYTimes) received any kind of compensation from this property or any other property reviewed for those publications. I am highly confident that neither Elizabeth nor Katie would get direct compensation from reviewed properties. Their employers? I simply don't know. Does anyone know how this type of journalism works financially?

                                            *. I appreciate the diverse opinions on PM (has ANYONE other than Elizabeth or Katie actually been there?). Based on these writings, I would choose to visit the property, check out the rooms, walk the grounds and have lunch or dinner. Due to the price, I wouldn't stay there until I was satisfied that value would be delivered. If value exceeded price, I'd be back in a flash. If not, I'm out only the cost of a lunch/dinner.

                                            Thanks for all the spirited commentary!

                                            1. re: cortez

                                              Thanks to you OP cortez for your gracious reply. Rest assured that T+L, Wine Spectator, Decanter, Gambero Rosso, any and all such media expect , and get, some compensation in return: advertising from the places and producers they send writers to cover. Which is not to imply a 1:1 correlation, or that it happens in every case, but the media always look at editorial as a source for ad dollars. eons.

                                              1. re: bob96

                                                So much to comment on here, but I'll just jump in to Bob's question to say that often, when reviewing big hotel chains or cruise companies (for example) the idea that advertisers in a magazine like T&L may have something to do with an editor asking a writer to visit a certain place or take a certain trip. But for a place like PM, this is not the case. A very small scale boutique type group of hotels like Coppola Resorts is not a big player when it comes to magazine advertising.

                                                1. re: bob96

                                                  On the specific point of "compensation," and "editorial as a source for ad dollars," do note that a great deal of the time, the sequence is that articles are assigned and writtien, and it is only AFTER they are slated for publication that the ad sales people become aware of it, and then they may approach the featured vendor to see if they can sell them an ad. So the content of article was never influenced by a commercial relationship.

                                                  But it is also true that most working editors take responsibility for developing features that boost ad sales -- and not just in food and wine magazines. Annual features in other publications that devote whole sections to "Children's Reading" or "Summer Reading" are opportunities for ad sales. Likewise, a food magazine that features an entire edition devoted solely to chocolate or summer picnic foods.

                                                  1. re: barberinibee

                                                    With all due respect, I know a great deal about American Express and other publishers of food and travel magazines.

                                                    I think your statement "do note that a great deal of the time, the sequence is that articles are assigned and writtien, and it is only AFTER they are slated for publication that the ad sales people become aware of it, and then they may approach the featured vendor to see if they can sell them an ad. So the content of article was never influenced by a commercial relationship" is incorrect. "A great deal of the time " the sequence is the reverse of what you said.

                                                    Except for a few select publications (and these are not in the food and/or travel spheres), editorial and business are inextricably linked.

                                                    So the question remains, did PM comp Travel & Leisure? If so, why wasn't it stated?

                                                    1. re: allende

                                                      With all due respect right back at ya', I stand by my remarks elaborating on bob96's post in response to Cortez who specifically mentioned the NYTimes, and the NYTimes isn't the only publication whose ad dept works that way. (Pls note the NYTimes publishes a great deal of travel and food stand-alone sections and magazines, advertising rich.) I think these publications are the ones most likely to be taken seriously by Chowhounders, not the obviously niche all-promotion corporate mags.

                                                      I think you may have to call American Express to get an answer about whether T + L was comped by Palazzo Margherita. I doubt anyone who worked on the editorial content would know with absolute certainty, which is what you seem to be seeking.

                                                      1. re: barberinibee

                                                        Which are the "other" publications that work as The NYT does?

                                                        Why do I think I know the answer to the question about being comped?

                                                        1. re: allende

                                                          All the major old-school big city newspapers and national magazines operate as the Times does when it comes to editoral and advertising, and not just about food or travel, as I indicated above. Once the ad dept gets wind of what the editorial content is for a specific issue, they will try to use it as leverage with potential advertisers. (i.e., a big profile on George Clooney might inspire an ad salesperson to call up Alitalia to see it if wants to place an ad in that Sunday's magazine). There are fewer and fewer "quality" dead-tree publications left to be sure, and a proliferation of "niche" consumer magazines that are nothing but thinly disguised advertising, but I think Chowhounders probably read more of the old-school quality stuff on a regular basis than they do the kinds of fluff magazines found in airport VIP lounges.

                                                          I've really no idea what magazines like Saveur or Gourmet do, or Food & Wine, which I imagine some Chowhounders do read (or write for!)

                                                2. re: cortez

                                                  thanks for wading through all this! if you DO visit needless to say we are looking forward to your view.

                                                3. re: bob96


                                                  I think "locally sourced" and "rustic" and "terroir" have become status items -- Anthony Bourdain cuts a glamorous figure -- so I think it is possible that the trust-fund girls who book a room in Sofia Coppola bridal suite for a week of detox will also venture beyond the walls to eat a locally sourced fava bean. We'll see! The collapse of the euro zone might put this hotel in every American tourist's reach.

                                                  I also want to add here, regarding "the brand," that it is entirely consistent with FFC's whole career trajectory to create something grandiose, and that dreams of a "grand hotel" that is a throwback to romantic travel of yore is just part of his creative fantasy world. Part of the reason FFC no longer makes movies is because he slipped so far into a fantasy of re-creating, in real life, the overblown world of the Golden Age of Hollywood. For a while he just went bankrupt doing it, but he seems to have shrewdly sussed out a way to cash in on American sentimentality about Italian food and wine and family, plus the lingering power of the Godfather movies, and now has meshed it all at Palazzo Margherita with a sentimental view of his own familly mixed in with Golden Era Hollywood (take a look at the Palazzo's bar). Yes, it's the sealed world of the grand hotel, but it is also a grand construction of the private world inside FFC's head. Some people will be attracted to the hints of eccentric folly of it, out of sheer curiosity.

                                                  1. re: barberinibee

                                                    the bar is called "Bar Cinecitta" and all the photos on the walls are of ITALIAN directors and performers. Nothing Hollwood about it. There is a salone that at night turns into a screening room in which they only show Italian movies that have been hand picked by Mr. Coppola. We watched a Umberto D., Le Notti di Cabiria, and I Soliti Ignoti, Some other guests asked to watch The Godfather (which is still one of the greatest movies ever made) and the manager said "We had to twist Mr. Coppola's arm to get him to have his movies here, but he said 'only if a guest asks'"

                                                    As for Francis Ford Coppola's career: he has NOT stopped making movies, he now makes small films, which he finances himself, please put Tetro on your list of movies to watch it is brilliant. Here is the trailer:

                                                    This a man who should be admired, he is a true entrepreneur and cinematic genius who is trying to help the region from which his family is from. In one of outr many late night conversations with the staff I was told that Mr. Coppola has sunk a lot of money into this venture with no hope of making any of it back ... his other resorts , yes ... but this is a labor of love for his family and for the people of Basilicata.

                                                    1. re: Darioro


                                                      I am wholly admiring of FFC's cinematic works of genius, and I am sorry my loose words led you think otherwise. While I've no interest in Palazzo Marghertia (and still find the concept quite sentimetally old Hollywood -- the pictures remind me of the bar at the Formosa Cafe), Mr. Coppola made two out of the three greatest American movies ever made , and had he simply quit there, that would have been twice as much as anyone could have asked for. Thank you for the link to his last movie, which I had no knowledge of. I wish him all the best in every venture and also wish I could repay him for the amazing things he has shown me with his incomparable cinematic eye, and we are lucky iinsofar as it appears he seems to have passed it on to his highly talented daughter.

                                                4. re: barberinibee

                                                  Barberinibee, I was going to write a long response, but since you have said just about anything and everything I was going to comment on, I'll just say thank you!

                                                  But I do want to say that I am always transparent, when writing for a magazine (where we always say if I trip was sponsored in any way) or when writing on my own blog. People on this forum know (at least I think they do) that I often travel on the behalf of assignments.

                                                  But, at the end of the day, it's really my personal opinion. As is Katie's. This is no science, which is the beauty of it, right?

                                                  1. re: minchilli

                                                    The question that has yet to be answered is "was any part of your trip to PM paid for by the place." We're not speaking of "paid to you" of course... no one is doubting your integrity.

                                                    Cortez said, "it would be disturbing... any kind of compensation from this property or any other property reviewed for those publications." I don't find it disturbing at all IF it is mentioned, should it be the case, that PM comped you through T&L. As I've said, a publication such as The FT, lays it out right up front. In The FT, t's not hidden if the place being reviewed provides the comp, and that is the way it should be.

                                                    1. re: allende


                                                      I just happened to notice EM's response to you of June 21, stating that she paid the bill at Palazzo Margherita and was reimbursed by T+L. Doesn't that answer your question?

                                                      1. re: barberinibee

                                                        I had missed that as well. Thank you for pointing it out.

                                                1. re: minchilli

                                                  If you look at the letter from the editor page in every issue of Travel and Leisure you will see the following:
                                                  Travel and Leisure editors, writers and photographers are the industry's most reliable sources. While on assignment, they travel incognito whenever possible and do not take press trips or accept free travel of any kind.

                                                  Now, I don't know if that is 100% true, or if it was written in a way that would imply something but not really be fully factual I do not know.

                                        3. By the way, since the Financial Times was mentioned, I looked up to see whether they had reviewed Palazzo Margherita -- and indeed they had, with lavish praise (and no mention of who paid the bill). The article was written by freelance journalist Claire Wrathall, who also has the travel website Arbitrix, which is where you can read the FT article if you don't have a subsciption to FT:


                                          It's not clear to me if she did it on spec and the FT bought it and published it, or if she wrote it on assignment for the FT and then included it on her personal website.

                                          Specifically about the food at Palazzo Margherita, Wrathall wrote:

                                          "[T[wo local women, Filomena and Enza, produce delicious, unfussy meals of a kind you might be offered in someone’s home: antipasti, hearty soups, pasta, meat or fish preceded in the Italian style by a plate of local vegetables and, finally, homemade pastries filled with custard or whipped ricotta."

                                          The wine list is described as featuring, along with local varieties from Basilicata and Puglia, wines from vinyards owned by the Coppola family in California and Provence.

                                          6 Replies
                                          1. re: barberinibee

                                            she was there a week before opening (she mentions) which makes me think it was an invitation. Also: coppola correcting/bettering dishes that the kitchen staff (the two local women) are cooking? A New York Mafia Dish? I rest my case.

                                            1. re: vinoroma

                                              I actually have no opinion about the FT/Wrathall article, but will note that a good deal of the framework of the article is an interview with or profile of Coppola, so I don't know how that kind of a feature is treated under FT's policy and practices for news subjects (it was published in its Life&Arts section).

                                              I've kind of lost track of who has been making what case here, but a "New York Mafia dish" on the menu also prompts me to rest my case that Palazzo Margherita is primarily an elaboration of FFC's most famous fantasies. Let's hope he has no urge to open a hotel in Vietnam.

                                              1. re: vinoroma

                                                There was no such thing as a New York Mafia dish on any of the menus when we were there. as a matter of fact the menu changed daily and was very very regional.

                                                  1. re: erica

                                                    From reading her piece, it looks like she only spent one night there. I don't find it fair to professionally review the food at restaurant after only one meal. But this is the age of the internet and the rules of journalism have loosened.

                                                    1. re: Darioro

                                                      sorry -- deleted my own post because I realized I had misread yours.