Venice festgoers say bye bye to Des Bains

Iconic Lido hotel is being turned into apartments

Call it the end of the Lido Belle Epoque.

Some festgoers will undoubtedly be mourning the demise of the Grand Hotel des Bains as they scuttle past the scaffolding and debris chutes being used for the conversion of its 191 rooms into 70 “extra lusso” apartments.

Opened in 1902, the Des Bains had been an integral part of the Venice Film Festival ever since the world’s oldest fest got started in 1932 on the terrace of the nearby Hotel Excelsior.

Since then, industryites have held court there, amid the grandeur that had already made it a favorite of European aristocrats, as captured by Thomas Mann’s “Death in Venice” and Luchino Visconti’s eponymous film starring Dirk Bogarde.

The Palladian building will be reopened as the Des Bains Residences in 2011. Its main floor with its landmark Visconti ballroom is due to remain intact. The rest will become luxury apartments for rent and for sale for as much as $19,000 per square yard, managed by the Four Seasons.

The plan includes construction of additional residential units inside the former hotel’s garden in what will likely amount to the Des Bains’ final kiss of death

It also seems dubious that, given its exorbitant cost, much of a link between the Des Bains and the fest will ever form.

The Des Bains conversion is part of a multi-million dollar redesign of the entire Lido prompted in part by construction of the fest’s new Palazzo del Cinema. The idea is to transform the Lido into a year-round conference destination, like Cannes, as well as a ritzy resort.

The Hotel Excelsior is skedded for a revamp next year.

While the Lido’s extreme makeover may be the only way to save it, and the fest, from plunging into an anachronistic void, that does not make the end of the Des Bains as we knew it any less painful, at least for some. And that’s despite its faulty air-conditioning and the fact that one of its two elevators was almost always out of service.

As helmer Stephen Frears lamented to the Guardian newspaper: “I’m only glad that Dirk Bogarde isn’t alive to have seen this.”

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • August Maturo

    Film News Roundup: August Maturo to Star in Horror Movie 'Slapface'

    In today’s film news roundup, August Maturo gets a starring role and “Death of Me” and “Fatale” find homes. CASTING “Girl Meets World” star August Maturo has been cast as the lead character in the upcoming indie horror feature, “Slapface.” Maturo will play a man who deals with the loss of his mother by creating [...]

  • Dan Trachtenberg

    Tom Holland's 'Uncharted' Movie Loses Director

    Dan Trachtenberg has exited the director’s chair for Sony’s “Uncharted” movie starring Tom Holland, with the studio taking meetings with top filmmakers and production starting early next year. The studio confirmed Trachtenberg’s departure Thursday. It also said Sony-based PlayStation Productions — headed by Asad Qizilbash and Carter Swan — had come on to produce alongside [...]

  • Participant Taps Anikah McLaren, Robert Kessel

    Participant Taps Anikah McLaren, Robert Kessel to Head Film Department

    Participant Media has named industry veterans Anikah McLaren and Robert Kessel as co-heads of the company’s film department with the titles of executive vice president. Both executives will report together to Participant CEO David Linde, who made the announcement Thursday. McLaren joins Participant having most recently served as a production executive for Fox Searchlight Pictures. [...]

  • 'The Son' Review: Bosnian Family Drama

    Sarajevo Film Review: 'The Son'

    It is a mixed blessing to be born in the aftermath of a war. On the one hand, you never have to experience the terror and suffering your parents did; on the other, you grow up with your own personal crises forever made to feel smaller by comparison. That, at least, is the frustration driving [...]

  • Constance Wu and Jennifer Lopez star

    Box Office: Jennifer Lopez 'Hustlers' Heading for $25 Million Launch

    STX Entertainment’s “Hustlers,” a comedic thriller about strip-club employees seeking revenge, is expected to earn $25 million when it opens on Sept. 13, according to early tracking. The movie — starring Jennifer Lopez, Constance Wu, Lili Reinhart, Keke Palmer, Cardi B and Lizzo — will debut alongside Warner Bros.’ “The Goldfinch.” The drama, based on [...]

  • AMC TheatresShop signs, Los Angeles, America

    AMC Theatres Lays Off 35 Corporate Staffers

    AMC Entertainment has laid off 35 corporate staffers and will not fill an additional 15 open jobs. The Kansas-based chain made the announcement Thursday as part of a previously announced “profit improvement plan” intended to achieve operating and administrative efficiencies. AMC, which operates more than 10,000 movie screens, had disclosed the plan on Aug. 8 [...]

  • Ann Sarnoff Warner Bros

    Ann Sarnoff Formally Takes Reins of Warner Bros. as CEO

    The Ann Sarnoff era at Warner Bros. has begun. Sarnoff formally took the reins as Warner Bros. chair-CEO on Thursday, two months after she was appointed to the post. Sarnoff told employees in a memo that she has been impressed by the company’s track record during the past year amid a period of upheaval for [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content