A surprising urban retreat based on green life style principles
In the very heart of Lisbon, the Inspira Santa Marta Hotel has swiftly become a point of reference not only for wellbeing but also for urban rehabilitation and global sustainability. It recently received the Best Environmentally Sustainable Project award from the Portuguese Tourist Board. Nicolas Roucos, General Manager for Inspira Hotel, explains the challenges and opportunities of this groundbreaking national hotel brand.
The Inspira Santa Marta Hotel, inaugurated around two years ago, stands out for its innovative concept. Could you tell us about your brand positioning as an ecologically sustainable hotel?
The hotel won this environmentally sustainable position at its official inauguration in October 2010, not only through communicating the message but essentially from its work in achieving the relevant certificates (ISO 9001 & 14001, Green Globe, Travelife Sustainability, Carbon Zero). It's true that a hotel like ours, having such a high number of environmental features, has a higher initial investment and cost structure and our clients are willing and able to pay the difference for being in a hotel of this category. Having said that, it has not been easy to achieve this brand positioning.
Within the Inspira Santa Marta Hotel concept, sustainability is a strong presence on many levels together with equally important attributed principles of Feng Shui combined with state-of-the-art technology. Could you explain why these three factors appeal to your clients?
Certainly the concept is based, on the one hand, by the 3 sustainability pillars, these being: the economic, social and environmental, which are all present in the hotel's culture, organisation and daily activities. There is a 4th pillar, well-being, which is fed by, among other things, the hotel's balanced energies - Feng Shui. The combination of sustainability and Feng Shui shapes what we refer to as our holistic vision.
Who are your clients? What is your occupancy rate and average daily room charge?
Our clients are generally from a medium-upper socio-economic background and are split equally between leisure and business. We closed our first full year of operations (2011) with a 60% occupancy rate. Our goal for our second year is to get to 70%. The average daily cost per night is slightly over €100.
With regards to Food & Beverage, the quality of your services is excellent. Have you been able to attract many local residents? What are your clients looking for?
We have proven able to host various events of all types and have worked at bringing local companies on board. We have various competitive advantages and facilities at our hotel. For example, we are the only 4-star hotel with a SPA in the centre of Lisbon in addition to a small (and also unique) auditorium, ideal for product launches and press conferences. We have a gaming room and conference rooms fully-equipped with the latest technology. In terms of restaurants, the Open Brasserie Mediterrânica provides a particularly pleasant experience in terms of the menu and service concepts and within a relaxed and highly informal atmosphere more typical of an independent restaurant and far from the heavier ambiences normally prevailing in hotel restaurants.
What phase is your Oporto hotel project at?
The Oporto project is currently on standby primarily due to the difficult market conditions. Our present objective is to consolidate the investment put into the first hotel.
Given the prevailing economic conditions, what measures have you taken and adaptations have you made? How do you see the future?
The current economic climate makes things difficult, but we also know how to adapt to market-based demands and we continue to believe that there will be, whether in the business or leisure sectors, plenty of customers wishing to book into our hotel. Above all because they still seek quality service and are prepared to pay a little extra despite the difficult conditions, to guarantee a memorable experience whether they are here for an event, a business trip, a short break or holiday. In truth, there is an overall reduction in the demand level and so it is increasingly important to raise our visibility, to offer still higher quality, and to promote not only our own hotels but also Lisbon as a destination. It is important to remember that, in this ever more virtual world, we are not only competing against hotels in Lisbon but also against other markets and other European cities.
All text and photos kindly supplied by BPCC Member: