“Our story began with the needs of our guests – and we’ve stayed true to that focus,” says Gianfranco Patelli, son-in-law of one of the founders, the longtime director, and current Chairman of the Board of Directors. The idea for the Campofelice campground came from campers who used to stay overnight on the grounds of the gravel pit at Lake Maggiore. As word of its beauty spread, more and more campers flocked to the picturesque spot in Tenero, Switzerland, not far from Locarno. The Cattori brothers, whose family owned the property, decided in 1955 to close the gravel pit and open Campofelice Camping Village.
The original 1,300 pitches have since given way to 700 pitches plus 100 permanent structures including bungalows, apartments, and glamping units. During high season, the camping village employs more than 150 people who attend to the needs of the 45,000 or so visitors each year. In all, the campground accommodates more than 350,000 overnight stays annually. It’s the largest overnight accommodation in Ticino and one of the regional tourism industry’s biggest employers.
The first guests simply wanted a place where they could park their campers. Today, services and comfort are key. Visitors want air conditioning, playgrounds, and organized activities. Things are moving in the direction of hotel-level service, but under the open sky. Yet the emphasis remains on their original unique selling proposition: bringing people close to nature. The leadership team carefully weighs every infrastructure investment, and changes are introduced in stages. And that approach seems to be working. Campofelice has received multiple awards, including the “Superplatz” designation, the highest honor from Germany’s automobile association, ADAC, and the German Camping Club’s DCC prize for Europe in 2020.
Infrastructure isn’t the only factor in their success. For Simone Patelli, the culture is more important – and that means employees with a service mindset and willingness to help. He knows that it is essential to live these values with passion and dedication. “My father was always the first one to step up and help when needed. I learned to do that from the time I was a young child and now I am passing on these crucial values.”