Italian hotel guests upset over a chocolate-covered bikini model used as a buffet centerpiece

Dessert was served with a side of chocolate-covered model at a hotel in Italy, according to one family of guests.

Feredico Mazzieri, an HR manager from Milan, recently took to LinkedIn to share his disturbing experience while staying at Voi Colonna Hotel in Golfo Aranci last month with his 14-year-old daughter. While enjoying time by the pool, the two guests were met with a dessert platter that was garnished with a mostly unclothed female model, covered in melted chocolate, they said. Mazzieri was appalled by the display, as he shared a picture and lengthy message about how upsetting it was to see a woman’s body used “as an object.”

“Yesterday evening, after a beautiful day in which many people worked hard to make the many guests spend a carefree day, I am left speechless looking at this scene: a dessert buffet by the pool, on a table a girl ‘in bathing suit’ covered in chocolate, lying among the pastries,” the talent acquisition specialist wrote in Italian, per translation.

Mazzieri claimed that the hotel’s centrepiece display had contradicted their advertised values. “Voi Hotels stands for True Italian Hospitality, but what does it mean? What do Alpitour managers think of this representation of the female body?”

“When I expressed my dissatisfaction at the hotel they said it was ‘the chocolate statue,’” he continued. “How can corporate values such as tradition and innovation be published on one’s own website and allow these behaviours to exist in one’s own structures, where the body of a woman - of a worker - is equated to that of a crockery to indulge someone’s mischievous eye?”

Mazzieri added: “Talking about sustainability and ethics is very simple, making these corporate values alive in everyday life is certainly much more difficult.”

His daughter also assumed a particular disappointment in the country. “Dad, it sucks, this is not a country where you can realise yourself,” she said, according to his post.

More than 391 people commented on Mazzieri’s LinkedIn post, expressing the same discontent and dismay with the hotel’s actions. The conversation even caught the attention of the hotel, and seems to have prompted them to reply to the controversy.

“First of all, we would like to offer you, your family and in particular your daughter - as well as our customers - the most sincere apologies on behalf of all the Voi hotels management. We deeply regret this incident and wish to firmly reiterate that we never had any intention of representing values other than those we espouse,” Voi Colonna replied to the post. “We are taking immediate action to address this incident constructively and to ensure that no customer needs to feel offended in any way in the future.“

Mazzieri responded: “I acknowledge but remain perplexed by not having had the possibility of a discussion with your structure management, to whom I asked for a clarification and who did not show the slightest attention to the aspects you indicated in the post.”

In a later statement that appears to be from the hotel staff, they took responsibility against continued criticism. “Regardless of who was directly involved in the incident, we feel the responsibility and intend at this moment to directly address the comments and criticisms we are receiving, acknowledging that this is a serious event that in no way represents Voi hotels and its values.”

The hospitality chain appeared to continue: “We apologise again to everyone, because respect for the person is a priority for us and for not having adequately supervised on this occasion. We reaffirm our commitment to pursue the values we declare and to spread them more vigorously in each country in which we operate, to prevent similar situations from occurring again.”

“The full understanding, dissemination and implementation of our values at all company levels is a path in constant evolution, we confirm our constant commitment to continue on this path.”

Speaking to The Independent, a representative for Voi Hotels added their own remarks about the incident. “As a company, regardless of the people involved directly or not, we feel the responsibility to be fully accountable for the questions and criticism we’ve been under by recognizing the direness of the event and how it does not represent any of the VOIhotels values and identity,” they said. “We once again apologize with everyone, as we consider a major priority to respect our people and failed to adequately supervise this occasion.”

“We reiterate our commitment towards following the company values we state and to spread them with greater effort in all the countries we operate as to avoid any situations like this to ever happen again,” they went on. “Aware that full understanding, embracing, and practicing of our values at all company levels is an ever-evolving path, we confirm our duty and commitment to follow it through.”

The Independent has reached out to Mazzieri for a comment.