The Excelsior Planet Hotel: 50 years of hospitality in the mountains

26 September 2019

In 1970 in the high mountains, in Cervinia Maria Luisa Zavattaro and Dario Zanetti, a hopeful newlywed couple, look at the façade of Le Planet Hotel.
The building was erected in 1964 in front of the ski runs and with a breathtaking view of Mount Cervino.
Now it is their own hotel. They have just run it after paying the commercial launch and the renting with their savings and their aunt’s.
This is the beginning of a new adventure. This is the beginning of a story of welcoming and hospitality that next year, in 2020, will be aged 50.
This is the Excelsior Planet Hotel story.

The main characters of this story are two, the Excelsior Hotel and the Zanetti family; in particular the heads of the family, Dario Zanetti and Maria Luisa Zavattaro, who dedicated all their life to the hotel.
His story tells about effort and passion, growth and commitment.

Dario was born in 1944 in Invorio, in the province of Novara, to a humble family. He starts working at 10, first by delivering the newspapers and then working in the industries.
After completing his studies, he refuses a permanent contract in a factory and following his aunt Maddalena’s wise advice, he decides to be a cook so that he will be able to eat the “pulaster” forever.
Like most people, even Dario starts from the lowest paying occupations: washing dishes.
He is sure that in his life he must aim upwards (this is a mantra which will follow him even while running the Excelsior Planet), Dario never gets discouraged and puts his heart and soul into his job.
And the results are soon positive.
In a short time he becomes a chef assistant and a commis in the most prestigious Italian hotels: the Excelsior Lido Hotel in Venice, the Splendid Venezia in Cortina. When he is 20, he is a Chef de Partie in Le Grand Hotel in Rome (recently renamed “St. Regis Grand”) and then on the Queen Federica cruise.

In 1969 Dario gets married to Maria Luisa Zavattaro he had met some years before during a seasonal work in Breuil Cervinia. Maria Luisa grew up in the field of hospitality (at the moment her parents are running a hotel in Cervinia) and with Dario they dream now to create their own activity.
So when they have the opportunity of managing Le Planet Hotel, they take this great chance with both hands.
The year 1970 comes.
Here begins the Excelsior Planet Hotel story.

At first it is hard: the staff is almost not-existent: Dario works in the kitchen, Maria Luisa is the receptionist.
So when in 1971 Matteo, his first child, is born, Dario is obliged to bring the hotel registers to her wife at the hospital to record the guests.
If in fact, of the two, Dario represents the most outgoing and entrepreneurial figure, Maria Luisa is immediately the one who takes charge of the whole accounting and organizational part.
A careful and meticulous work, which Maria Luisa will carry on alone for a long time, guaranteeing the hotel that organizational efficiency and professionalism that have always characterized the Excelsior.

Their effort soon gives great results.
In 1972 the Hotel is offered for sale, the couple can buy it changing its name into Au Planet Hotel.
The guests show a great loyalty, the work triples and in a couple of years the first 4 employers become 12.

1987 is another important year.
Now Maria Luisa and Dario have two teenage children, Matteo and Chiara. They know that the success for their hotel is based on a continuous improvement process and on their great passion too.
Before they keep on investing in their hotel, they need to know if their children have the same passion for the world of hospitality.
Will Matteo and Chiara really want to join their family’s project and choose the hotel as the main character of their future?
Their two children’s positive answer is the beginning for the first great restructuring of the building, whose name is now Excelsior Planet in honour of the several Excelsior hotels where Dario worked and learnt his job.
In 1988 are added 25 suites and 11 bedrooms. While Cervinia becomes a trendy ski town, Dario gets a new nickname: Mr Suites.
Thanks to its geographical location, attentive hospitality, haute cuisine, its large and comfortable rooms the Excelsior Hotel is elected as the real point of reference for providing hospitality in high altitudes.

Today the Excelsior Planet Hotel is a family run 4-star hotel.
Since 2013 the management of the hotel has been into Matteo’s and Chiara’s hands.
Anyway the present keyword is the same, after so long welcoming years: Making it better.
After 50 years the dimensions of the hotel tripled: the bedrooms are now 56.
In 2010 a new enlargement project concerned the hotel: now you can stay in 10 amazing suites created on the new fourth floor.
The modern, cozy, sophisticated Alpine Suite is the highlight of the hotel and a great source of pride for Matteo, Chiara and the whole Zanetti family. If you want to discover all their secrets, you can read our article: “Alpine suite: here are five main reasons to choose these luxury accommodations”.
Over the years Au Planet Bar, the spa Le Chalet have been inaugurated. Recently on the fourth floor of the hotel the Beauty area and Wellness Le Grenier have been added to pamper their guests after a great day skiing.

The cuisine also grew up
The restaurant has always been the strong point of the Hotel as the founder is a cook. Dario bestows his cooking duties upon the chef Fabrizio and his team with 14 cooks. Today the restaurant offers a great choice of elegant dishes, refined tastes, impeccable presentation.

On June the 2nd 2017 Dario was awarded with the title of Cavaliere dell’Ordine al Merito della Repubblica as with his passion and professionalism he was able to create an appreciated well known hotel and gradually thanks to the reputation he obtained in its field, he contributed actively to the development of Breuil valley.
This is an award for the long effort of a man which, after washing dishes, became the owner of a 4-star hotel. It is also an award to the Excelsior Planet Hotel for its long story about perfect hospitality and welcoming.
And it is finally an award for Maria Luisa, for her constant commitment and her faithful dedication within the Hotel, and for the Zanetti family and all the staff of the hotel which for 50 years have worked with passion and commitment to give their guests an unforgettable experience in their hotel at the foot of Mount Cervino.

Exterior of the Excelsior Planet today, overlooking the Matterhorn



Excelsior Planet
Cervinia, IT

Completely renovated, few steps from the pedestrian road and from the ski slopes, the Hotel offers a mountain atmosphere and first-class welcome. Let yourself be impressed by the romantic warmth of the crackling fireside.