On January 1, 1901, the Kursaal Rapallo opened its doors for the first time, standing proudly on the stretch of coast between Rapallo and Portofino. Built next to the Villa Elisabetta of 1865, it quickly became a favored destination for the beau monde, who flocked to the Riviera from all over Europe, drawn by the legendary climate and the attractions of the casino tables.
The hotel’s clientele was so enthusiastic and numerous that it was soon necessary to provide more adequate facilities. The New Casino Hotel, designed by the Swiss architect Verrey, was built close by, with a direct link to the games room, and the work was carried out under the direction of the engineer Enrico Machiavello. Immersed in a colorful garden and already providing 140 rooms and 200 beds, the hotel – later renamed the Excelsior Palace Hotel – immediately became one of the best-loved on the coast, a luxurious complex with a bathing establishment overlooking the sea.
The cinema, the latest wonder of the times, made the Excelsior Palace Hotel the subject of contemporary newsreels. In 1914, the terrace became the setting for several scenes of the film "Battesimo di Nave," one of the first films to be shot outdoors with scenes from life. The film was fictional, but in its own way, the cinema also bore witness to the history of the first two decades of the twentieth century. In 1917, The Excelsior Palace Hotel was also the location for the Allied summit at Rapallo, where conditions for the conclusion of World War I were thrashed out. The Excelsior was also the setting for the Italo-Yugoslav Treaty of 1920, and the Russo-German agreement of 1922.