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Tivoli Hotels:Portuguese attraction

Born at the beginning of the last century, the Tivoli Hotels group has gone through several lifes depending on the good health of the Portuguese economy and the development opportunities. Recently acquired by one of the largest financial group of the country, it posts nowadays new ambitions.

Birth and rebirth: the history of Tivoli Hotels is in two parts that led the group to become one of the key players in Portugal’s hotel industry with a supply of 15 hotels and 3,600 rooms. The first began in the middle of the last century with the opening of the Tivoli Lisboa in 1933 and continued with the beginning of a network of upscale hotels in Lisbonne, Sintra, Porto and Coimbra. The second, ongoing, began in 2000 with the takeover of the brand and its properties by Rio Investments, subsidiary of the group Espirito Santo, the historic leader of Portuguese finance. This takeover will allow Rio Investments, which owns several properties in Algarve, Lisbon and Madeira, to rely on a brand that has customer recognition. Thus, these properties will gradually be baptized under the brand Tivoli: Tivoli Oriente in Lisbon in 2001, Tivoli Madeira in 2002 and the Tivoli Marina Portimao in 2004.In order to continue its growth, Tivoli could benefit from the work carried out by the brand to increase the share of hotels under management contracts alongside those with rental contracts. Brazil and the Lusophones of Africa, markets that have excellent airline connections to Portugal, are the preferred targets for the group with regard to pursuing growth. “We are looking for new opportunities. But it is not our goal to have 100 hotels in 10 years. Our growth is selective and involves seeking out hotels with Premium positioning.” The quest for excellence often leads to success.The year 2006 was another turning point in the group’s history. After this initial work to standardize the supply under a single brand, the group launched itself into two other major efforts: the internationalization of the group and the repositioning of the brand, destined to head the field of local hospitality. “We have set ourselves a goal to expand the brand. The hotels have undergone major works to reposition them and harmonize the supply. To do so required a major investment of around 60 million euros. This project is almost complete, although two properties still need slight renovations to make their decoration more contemporary,” explains Alexandre Solleiro, CEO at Tivoli Hotels & Resorts.Priority for the oldest: in 2008, the historic hotel on Avenida da Liberdade, Lisbon’s majestic avenue, was the first to be renovated to celebrate its 75 years in a dignified manner. In addition to the new elegant and refined decor in the common areas and bedrooms came a doubling of its seminars capacity. To do this, the group bought a property behind the hotel’s swimming pool: the former palace of the Comtes de Sucena, which it transformed by restoration into 7 meeting rooms. “This hotel gained real amplitude with respect to five years ago,” rejoices the man who presides over the group’s progeny since this year.After this, reopenings rapidly succeeded one another in the last three years. The Tivoli Jardim 4*, a neighbor of the group’s original hotel, was closed for 4 months to redo the property’s 120 rooms and spread contemporary design where urban elements mix with nature. But the key tour de force of this wave of renovations was incontestably that of the Palacio de Seteais in Sintra. This 18th-century palace has been at the heart of the original group since the 1950s but had not undergone any real transformations since then. In cooperation with the Portuguese government, Tivoli Hotels launched a full and detailed restoration of the historic monument that took over a year. A major feat: for four months, 45 artists – painters and art students worked together to restore all the building’s frescoes.Internationalization, the group’s second project, also débuted in 2006, in Brazil. That year, Tivoli Hotels bought a property that is now one of the most beautiful resorts in Latin America, in Condé Nast Traveller’s opinion. Situated in the ecological reserve of Mata Atlântica north of Salvador de Bahia, Tivoli Praia do Forte received some improvements to boost its range and receive new meeting rooms soon after its takeover. Tivoli’s second step outside its homeland has always been in Brazil with the takeover in 2008 of a former Melia, actually a former Sheraton, in Sao Paulo. Closed for nine months for work carried out by the Brazilian architect Patricia Anastassiadis, the Tivoli Sao Paulo Mofarrej reopened in March 2009. Its 750 sq.m presidential suite – the biggest in South America, has hosted Heads of State and leaders of diplomatic missions during their visits to the country’s economic capital.“I am very proud of these first two implantations,” admits Alexandre Solleiro. Nonetheless, throughout its evolution, the group has not forgotten its origins and continues to develop in Portugal with the creation of the Tivoli Victoria Vilamoura golf resort in Algarve. This 280-room hotel opened in March 2009. Also in Vilamoura, in addition to this new property is the takeover of management for a luxury tourism complex owned by the group André Jordan – the “Residences at Victoria Clube de Golfe” and its 75 apartments – whose clients may enjoy the services of two of the group’s hotels in the city in the southern part of the country.In order to continue to perfect its brand image, Tivoli Hotels decided to partner with other major international brands that are each known in sector sector: F&B, well ness and amusement. At the Tivoli Lisboa, the group worked with the group Flo to create a restaurant in the spirit of the great Parisian brasseries that resulted in Flo’s renown in France, transposing the image of this historic property to Lisbon’s Champs Elysées. With its 7-meter ceilings, “this restaurant is a real success,” rejoices the group’s president. The relationship with the French restaurant chain will continue in the weeks to come with the opening of a Hippopotamus at the Tivoli Oriente in Lisbon. For the more gastronomic Tivoli Sao Paulo restaurant, Tivoli Hotels turned to Sergi Arola, Michelin 2-star in Madrid, to supervise the spectacular destination on the 23rd floor with its breathtaking view of the city.Creating sensations is progressively integrating the brand’s new DNA. Once associated with Nikki Beach at Tivoli Marina Vilamoura and at Tivoli Portimao, the group has just turned to a new events organizer: Puro Group. Its lifestyle concept Purobeach, produced in Palma de Mallorca and Marbella, was recently transplanted in Tivoli Vilamoura. Throughout the summer, Purobeach provides the hotel with beach activities with a very urban spirit and a restaurant and lounge bar, whose pace is set by a resident DJ. A relaxation area with mattresses, beds and tents all along the beach and a Tai Chi massage and relaxation area complete the offer. But on this wellness segment, the most important partnership signed by the group is incontestably the one it signed with the specialist of Banyan Tree spas. “We have an agreement for three spas and are considering running the Praia do Forte under this brand. We are very good hoteliers, but the spa is a real trade,” underlines the group’s CEO.Brand partnership strategies with well-known names have also entered the hotel world. Since last January, the Portuguese group joined the Global Hotel Alliance. This network based on the model of airline alliances such as One World and Sky Team, is backed by Kempinski and now includes 12 upscale groups and offers these very well-positioned players international visibility on a local or continental level, that is further enhanced by the recent launch of a multibrand loyalty program. “Such international visibility is essential wherein 75% of our clientele is foreign, of which 60% are Leisure tourists hailing from Western Europe, America and Brazil. The loyalty program will help our clients gain worldwide recognition. And, moreover, American clients of Omni or German clients of Kempinski will be able to receive our commercial offers,” rejoices Alexandre Solleiro who truly hopes to reinforce the commercialization if its properties. At the same time as being part of the GHA, all the group’s hotels are affiliated with distribution networks in keeping with their positioning. The hotel in Sao Paulo is Leading Hotels of the World; 4 others are Preferred Hotels while the rest of the supply is distributed by Worldhotels.All the efforts made to boost a brand turning 80 appear to be paying off. “Portugal has not escaped the crisis. But thanks to our efforts to renovate and reposition, our occupancy rates have undergone a less significant drop. They also return to a growth trend faster,” rejoices Alexandre Solleiro. With the recovery appearing to be underway, the president of Tivoli Hotels is looking to the future serenely and calmly. “We are free of any excessive pressure from our shareholder aside from an obligation to create value,” he specifies, confident in a long-term investment from the Espirito Santo.In order to continue its growth, Tivoli could benefit from the work carried out by the brand to increase the share of hotels under management contracts alongside those with rental contracts. Brazil and the Lusophones of Africa, markets that have excellent airline connections to Portugal, are the preferred targets for the group with regard to pursuing growth. “We are looking for new opportunities. But it is not our goal to have 100 hotels in 10 years. Our growth is selective and involves seeking out hotels with Premium positioning.” The quest for excellence often leads to success.

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