In the mid 1950’s, Michael Graham was a popular WWII British pilot whose name hit the headlines as the sole survivor of an air crash deep in the heart of Africa. His plane spiraling earthwards, Graham leapt from the aircraft without a parachute, entrusting his fate to the dense foliage below. Miraculously, he survived. The story of his providential escape was reported widely in European and American newspapers. Halfway across the globe, the Hollywood socialite Miss Patsy Daszel read about this brave and lucky Englishman and mused that one day she would like to meet him. She cut the article out of the newspaper and pasted it in her diary.
By one of those strange coincidences that make life so compelling and soul stirring, the two were indeed fated to meet. Years later, when Graham was visiting the U.S.A. on business for his then-employer Volkswagen, the two met at a party at Pelican Point, in California.
A party which Graham only reluctantly attended. It was love at first sight, despite the fact that his rival for Patsy’s affections was matinee idol extraordinaire Clark Gable.
They set off to travel together and revel in the intensity of their love. After criss-crossing Europe for some time, they found a place as mesmerizing and unique as their own bond. On this occasion, the matchmaker was their friend Prince Tinti Borghese, who brought them to this then-uninhabited stretch of the Argentario. Cupid’s arrow hit home a second time. Patsy and Michael decided to build a hotel “Il Pellicano” as a paean to their love in this dramatic, untamed setting.
Inaugurated on June 2nd, 1965, the years passed without eroding the very special atmosphere created by its founders. Il Pellicano quickly became a favorite destination for cognoscenti of luxury, exclusivity and secluded privacy. The extravagant and unspoiled Mediterranean coastline won Il Pellicano many admirers, not least the present owner, who came as a guest in 1974. He fell so deeply in love with the place that when Michael and Patsy decided to retire and return to England in 1979, they asked him if he’d like to buy it.
Thanks to the attention to detail that only love can bring, and the exclusivity and passion that only independent ownership can guarantee, Il Pellicano has been renovated, extended, and cosseted with five-star amenities making it one of the world’s best-kept travel secrets and premier Relais & Chateaux properties since 1982.
Rizzoli launched recently a book about the hotel Jet-set life and this month US Vogue editorial Laid- back is a true inspiration from the glamorous couple. Check it out!
Makeup: Val Garland
Produced by: Emanuele Mascioni
Production design: Jack Flanagan for the Magnet Agency
Photographed by Mario Testino
The Hotel: Il Pellicano, Grosseto, Tuscany
A captivating look at the glamorous, jet-setting lifestyles of those who frequent the legendary Hotel Il Pellicano, overlooking a secluded bay in Tuscany’s Porto Ercole. One of the hippest and most beautiful destinations in the world, the chic Hotel Il Pellicano, located on the Argentario, is a hangout for many from the design, fashion, and art worlds. With photographs by the great chroniclers of yesteryear glamour, John Swope and Slim Aarons—who captured the likes of Emilio Pucci, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Britt Ekland, Kenneth Tynan, and Susanna Agnelli relaxing here—as well as Juergen Teller, one of the most influential fine art and fashion photographers working today, the book presents three different epochs in the history of this modern-day dolce vita. A Visitor’s Note by Bob Colacello and a full history of the hotel by Bronwyn Cosgrave explore Il Pellicano’s illustrious legacy and its continuing seductive allure