Meet the Family Behind Positano’s Most Fabled Hotel

Discover how the Sersale family has turned Le Sirenuse in Positano into one of the most iconic hotels on the Amalfi Coast.

With its arresting views of Positano, five-star service, and frequent appearance on Instagram, Le Sirenuse is one of Italy’s most iconic and enduring properties. But the appeal of this historic hotel extends beyond its vistas. A true heritage property, Le Sirenuse is a part of the cultural fabric of the Amalfi Coast, and it has played an essential role in turning this colorful fishing village into one of the world’s most coveted resorts.

Set within a brick-red building along the curving Via Cristoforo Colombo, which winds its way through Positano, Le Sirenuse sits demure and elegant above the town. “The home belonged to Franco, the uncle of my father-in-law,” begins Carla Sersale, who runs the hotel with her husband, Antonio. “During World War II, my husband’s Neapolitan aunts and uncles sought refuge in Positano, which was a sleepy village of fishermen. It became a favorite ‘rest camp’ for the English military who fell in love with the scenery, so the Sersale family decided to turn their home into a hotel in 1951, and this begins our modern story,” she says.

John Steinbeck immortalized the town of Positano in a piece for Vanity Fair in 1953. “Positano bites deep,” he wrote. “It is a dream place that isn’t quite real when you are there and becomes beckoningly real after you have gone.” And if you’ve set eyes on Le Sirenuse, you’ll surely agree. Since it first opened, the property has expanded into a 58-room boutique hotel and a lifestyle brand that includes a boutique, cocktail bar, and panoramic restaurant. It’s enduring popularity, for nearly 70 years, proves that when you innovate on tradition, you get the best of both worlds: the warmth of a familial welcome with contemporary amenities that promise to deliver a stirring experience.

“Le Sirenuse is a luxury hotel, but it is very much family-owned and run. My husband and I are around during all the meals, and we spend a lot of time with our guests, so they feel like they’re staying in a private home rather than a hotel,” says Mrs. Sersale. “This has always been the spirit of our property, and it’s something we work hard to maintain.”

Mrs. Sersale and her husband began managing the property in 1992 and have led it into the modern era with taste and grace. “We are constantly updating the hotel and creating new ways to experience Positano and Le Sirenuse. In 2000 we opened Aldo’s Cocktail Bar and brought in a DJ to play music while our guests enjoyed an aperitif by candlelight. It encouraged young people to come out,” she says. “It’s really nice to host young guests. They add a vibrance to the scene.”

In 2015 they also opened Franco’s Bar, named for Don Francesco Saverio dei Marchesi, who co-founded the hotel in the 1950s and commissioned works of contemporary art to create an open-air gallery. The panoramic cocktail bar features a bold, yellow neo-Baroque fountain by Italian artist Giuseppe Ducroix, hand-painted furniture by Paolo Calcagni, and lamps by Orsina Sforza create a whimsical atmosphere.

Together with her niece, Viola Parocchietti, Mrs. Sersale also opened Emporio Sirenuse, a small boutique with handmade products like printed caftans, mouth-blown glassware, and chic accessories for the home. They also work with artists to create a seasonal capsule collection for the men’s atelier, including swimming trunks and Hawaiian shirts. “It’s not easy to transition from hospitality to developing a product line, so our communication on social media helps. In the past few years, Le Sirenuse has become a proper lifestyle brand, and we’re proud of this shift,” she says.

The hotel’s newest initiative is Dolce Vitality, a fitness and detox retreat. It takes place in Positano every March and November. Conceived by Mr. Sersale, who is passionate about health and wellness, the program includes daily hikes in the countryside, yoga sessions with spa treatments, and a vegan menu featuring organic ingredients. “The key of the program is that you’re busy all day, so you don’t even have time to be hungry,” says Mrs. Sersale. “We spend hours outside hiking in the hills of the Amalfi Coast, exercising and bonding together as a group – it really makes a difference to do this kind of retreat with a small group. You feel united, not like you’re making a sacrifice. Personally, this detox retreat completely changed my perspective on food and fitness.”

Whether you’re booking a stay at Le Sirenuse to spend quality time with a loved one  or explore the surrounding hills during an invigorating cleanse, this is a hotel where you’ll make memories for life. “Positano is truly a marvelous village,” says Mrs. Sersale. “And when I look at the sea in front of me, I’m always happy. I’ve been here for 28 years, and for me, it always remains the most beautiful place in the world.”

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