The Good Name of Gastón Acurio

silla

The son of a well-known Peruvian politician, Gastón Acurio has emerged as one of the shining business stars of South America. Almost everything he touches with his hotplates turns to Incan gold. Nearly everything he says or does goes to church and surely even reaches the Vatican. Many are waiting for the day when he will take everything he thinks in favour of local communities to the political arena to fight for — and probably win — the presidency of Peru.

Gastón Acurio cultivates his connections with Spain very well. Peru’s most acclaimed food critic, Ignacio Medina (who is Spanish, not Peruvian), keeps him informed of the current culinary affairs of the country where he learned to be a cook, and probably, a person. As a youth, when destiny had lined up for him a place in the cream of Peruvian politics, Acurio travelled to Madrid and enrolled at the Complutense University to study law. However, one day, tired of memorizing laws, he told his very surprised father that stoves were more his thing. He escaped from Madrid’s formal academia to get an education in the culinary arts where the ever-great Juan Mari Arzak reigned without contest. Yes, up there in the clouds, in the Alto de Miracruz, San Sebastián. Continue reading

Internet of Hotel Things

internetdelascosas

Google has acquired Nest, a company that specializes in smart thermostats, for $3,200 million dollars paid in cash. This movement confirms one of the clearest tendencies observed in the digital panorama: the so-called Internet of Things, a world that’s hyper-connected through mobile sensors, which will take flight in the tourism industry this year, even though its definitive results will take a while to be of common use by the consumers. Continue reading

Hotel Sleep Concierge

White Pillows

Every day, hotels compete over clients with an ever-growing menu of experiences. The pillow menu, introduced not long ago, has turned into a textile supermarket like the one the International Conrad Hotels chain is proud to offer.

In the arena of strong competition that has been created in worldwide hospitality industry, with incessant openings of new lodgings in advanced and emerging countries, the big chains are doing anything and everything to capture travellers and increase their fidelity to each chain’s brand. One of the classics, Conrad, now offers a very extensive menu of 75 pillows with which to induce more intense and seducing dreams. The menu takes into consideration local intricacies, as well as the diversity of pillow makers focused on being original and unique.

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The Tiger of Singapore

RafflesSingaporeAmong many concrete walls, steel and structural glass, the classic and flattened silhouette of the Raffles Hotel draws the attention of those strolling down Beach Road Street. What is a relic like this doing in a city-state whose flagship hotel is a complex of three skyscrapers crowned and linked by a panoramic pool that defies the basic laws of gravity? If it turns out the sea, when built, almost reached their rooms. And the street, denominated from the beach, received in its number 1 the new tourism tenant, in which Rudyard Kipling, Somerset Maugham and Joseph Conrad would tread.

In 1887, Singapore was still a British colony. The new hotel assembled a collection of 10 small bungalows by the sea, an unnamed paradise for the few merchants who ventured into these dangerous Malaysian waters. But that innate sense of Asian hospitality soon became a mecca of services. First came the famous Singapore Sling cocktail, created in 1915 by the bartender Ngiam Tong Boon, which attracted bar and clubroom parishioners very fast, including the so-called British writers. Continue reading

Embracing Beauty

fibonacci

I had the pleasure of speaking with Enrique Loewe about beauty and ugliness in the solemn courtyard of the new Thyssen Museum, Málaga. “Embrace beauty”, he exclaimed from the podium of someone who symbolizes luxury better than anyone else in Spain. “Whatever you may study, whatever you may do, be sensible to the ideal of beauty that will transform your professions into a happy and creative exercise. Be demanding with your surroundings, proclaim your taste for things well done, hold on to what’s beautiful,” concluded he who in his own words “has given everything for the desire of beauty in design”.

The esthetics canon has been in constant evolution through History. While the women of the Renaissance portrayed wide hips and prominent curves, women in the 18th century quite contrarily sought to accentuate fragility which was considered romantic by taking only vinegar and lemon. Or what about the incomprehensible esthetics, to us, that are the giraffe women of the Karen tribe in Thailand. Or the teeth blackened with the ohaguru technique in Japan. While Japanese culture demands pale and milky faces, the European middle class has imposed a tanned sheen achieved after many hours of sun exposure in the Mediterranean beaches. Since classic times the concept of beauty had been associated with the discovery of the divine proportion, the number phi, enunciated by Pythagoras and other Hellenic mathematicians. Symmetry isn’t found in parity, but in the spiral evolution of the shapes based on 1618. For each unit, you add to the line a little over a unit and a half. This Fibonacci succession is recognized as much in the works of nature as in the work of artistic geniuses: Praxiteles, Da Vinci, Palladio, Le Corbusier. Continue reading

19 Hotel Trends for 2020

trendsHere’s a trend projection to what is happening and probably will continue to happen in the upcoming years in  sub-sector of tourist accommodation.

1. HOTEL INDUSTRY. While oversupply condemns the Hospitality industry to maintain abnormally low prices in Spain, the development of the hotel sector is at growth level never seen before in Latin America. However, note that some Latin American countries are reaching their growth ceiling, more in the corporative sector that on the business one and more centered around large cities than in untapped tourist destinations. Consistent with our predictions for 2013, Lima and Bogota have been seeing growth in the corporate mid-class segment and the so called “boutique hotel industry.”

Chile is putting a stop (softly) to its economy, while domestic tourism grows with new personal and design hotels. Brazil continues, albeit more politely, its growth to give hospitality to the World Cup and Olympic hype for 2014 and 2016. Among Asian countries we announced last year that Sri Lanka would become a new tiger for tourism. Well, this year the government has announced public and private investments to triple hotel capacity from 2014 to 2016. China continues its growth with the aim to achieve in the next 10 years, 6.3 million beds and a volume of investment close to 100,000 million dollars. As much as they built in the past decade, China’s per capita ratio of hotel rooms (four per 1,000 people) is lower than in the U.S. (20 per 1,000 people). Continue reading