A genius is unique and chaotic, not perfect or a winner

shirtwhiteI am very grateful to Orlando Cotado, ideologist and promotor of Incitus Awards, by these words addressed to me on his blog. For sure, the title is deafening, but its content redeems.

This past Friday at the organized lectures by the Incitus Movement, as a complement to their dynamic work in the hostelry sector, I had the luck to meet and learn about the convoluted speculations of Fernando Gallardo (@fgallardo). A character who has seen a lot, lived a lot, and I’m not saying that because of his age because I consider him infinitely younger than I, but above all, and I think this is his greatest virtue, because he has thought a lot.

As if that wasn’t enough, a friend and no less brilliant Luis Veira, chef of Árbore da Veira restaurant and one of the Michelin Stars with the biggest future in the Galician gastronomic scene, also accompanied us. The grace of the event was in the contrast of opinions and experiences.

A common characteristic of quick and privileged minds is the slowness with which they communicated —Adrià is the exception that proves it—. Gallardo is a calm and light person, but with content even in his pauses. A guy who is able to place all his cards face up, yet still hide his game. A great guy, provocative and generous as all those of his species. A guide that is going one small step ahead.

After a pretentious examination of perceptions to which he was playing with an advantage —throwing zooms and perverse angles of vision to hide from us the table of Zaha Hadid and the famous shower of his Inhabited Ruin— he concluded that what prevented us from being different, the barrier between the old and the modern, that which turned us into a gray plain, was protocols.

Protocol, a rule or guide with enough information to prevent creativity. That which tells us that a table must have four legs, a telephone keys with numbers or a car a steering wheel. Fortunately, there’s geniuses like Hadid, Jobs, or Google’s engineers that don’t let themselves be closeted in by these protocols.

As a trend analyst, his mission is to open doors and show us new and trending worlds. However, their biggest virtue is surrounding information and their bold approaches. His bet for collaborative economic is known by all —I like to think that that’s where his support to the Incitus Movement comes from— and his tough defense of Uber. In his lecture, he condemned success as a fight to be the best to other’s detriment. Gallardo imagines a society where we strive to be different, not better. «Watch differently, be unique» —he concluded.

This was the message of the entrepreneurs of the room, a message that, not by overuse, has lost its sense. The «Think Different» of Jobs and Apple is more present than ever. Because, no matter how much we repeat it, we don’t come to grips with accepting it. «Creativity is not copying» Adrià repeats hastily. Very simple, but very complicated to execute. Although Gallardo also left us without any clue in that subject.

«When I bought what today is The Inhabited Ruin, I hired the best architect in rustic European home rehabilitation. He delivered the best project I could hope for, the best. Everything was right, but I didn’t like it and I didn’t know how to express why. Until a year later, we visited the ruin and I realized it. I had the project I hoped for, everything that imagination and talent could perpetrate, but something was missing, a surprise element that would make it different. It was missing madness, it was missing chaos, it was missing being unique» —he confessed.

And this is the path. Add chaos to your routine and «become an entrepreneur only if you are capable of creating unique things». A genius is unique and chaotic, not perfect or a winner.

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Unreachable Paradise

isla perdida

A couple days of complete disconnection is beneficial. Even better if it’s due to poor coverage of technology, out in a rural location. We were discussing in Marbella some time ago with the director of the hotel Guadalmina, Rafael Albuixech. The hotel is untouched by the influence of tourism, as other vacation centers on the Spanish Costa del Sol are. At this point in time, its location right on the beach is like paradise, since there no longer is any span of the coastline to exploit.

At a certain moment in the conversation a recurring subject came up, formulated decades before by that entrepreneurial pioneer of the worldwide hotel industry, Conrad Hilton: location, location, location! And which means that if we have a good setting, the hotel is safe. Or maybe not. My Marbellan interlocutor urged the competent official authorities in the matter to finish fixing the accesses, which are very run down, and part of a construction plan that includes the improvement of Costa del Sol highway, making a permanent traffic jam. He remained astounded when I told him it would be better to take a pick axe and shovel and destroy the remaining 800 meters of crumbling asphalt between the highway and his hotel…

No, I’m not joking. One of the great enemies of tourism in Spain is it being un-cataloged as an exotic and picturesque destination. Now no one can offer an exclusive and ventured paradise. Now all the pockets of population are well communicated. You can quickly reach anywhere. There isn’t the slightest opportunity for adventure. And this is why beaches are crowded during the summer, why the natural scenery suffers from ‘the Sundays’, why cultural centers have long lines, why one day come and go activities are dreadful because of the traffic. Anyhow, now everyone can go anywhere, making the natural selection of destinations based on taste or rewards into a chimera.

Isolation, tranquility, is now worth its weight in gold. To this exclusivists can assert, authentic, adventurers, millennials.

What Guadalmina Hotel should set out to attain, as should many other hotels just as nice, is to make the access of passersby difficult as a means to protect themselves from clientele that is not typical and that would likely feel more at ease in a lively group at karaokes, casinos or rave parties. Because there are rap hotels and classical music hotels and in a concert they wouldn’t mesh (except for a version I greatly like of Karl Jenkins’ Palladio performed by Eminem) and a bad audience they’d endeavor.

The proposal of a hotel of the senses would make these liturgies be articulated right upon entrance, transporting us to a dream world and not to the mundane reality. The more inaccessible the hotel is, the greater the adventure to reach it. The further away, the greater the desire to reach it.

In such an overpopulated planet, inaccessibility becomes the biggest incentive of traveling and of the hotel, a tourism destination in and of itself. Because the value of what is remote is founded on poetry of solitude.

Fernando Gallardo |

Architecture of Snow

Amalfi Coast
The rise in popularity of skiing around the world warrants a look at urbanism and ski resort architecture. Because the white sport, like all tourist activities, should be experienced and enjoyed like the unforgettable experience that it is.

The current managers of ski resorts are aware of the fact that the masses aren’t coming for winter sports as much as they’re coming for a winter vacation. The activity itself isn’t what attracts people, but instead a beautiful mountain vacation. Consequently, we are seeing how ski resorts are transforming little by little into snowy theme parks. And Formigal has been perhaps the first ski resort to understand that, thanks to talented and renowned manager, Antonio Gericó, who in 2015 was named General Director of the Aramón Group, Aragon Mountains.

It’s clear that Formigal-Panticosa has benefitted from recent special public investment that has transformed it into the largest and most modern resort in Spain. But it must be noted that this investment was no miracle. Gericó, before attaining his current position, worked in the hotel sector. He knew very well the difficulties of mountain lodging as he ran of the most luxurious establishments at Formigal, the Hotel Saliecho. While everyone else was homebound, Gericó was taking a page from the book of emblematic North American resorts, like Canada’s Whistler, and he was able to adapt these ideas to local tastes with the heart of a skier and the wisdom of a manager. Continue reading

Is Airbnb the next Booking?

Sharing hands for a sharing economy

At first, I thought that Airbnb was going to occupy a lodging niche that nobody wanted to, or could, digitally manage, given the dispersion of supply and the variety of behaviors attributed to homeowners interested in putting their homes up for rent by periods. But after a deep reflection on the strategic focus of the company, different view exchanges among tourism agents in New York (home of its founder, Brian Chesky), and the concerned monitoring of American hotel strategist Chip Conley, with whom I have exchanged some epistolary views on the subject, I confess that my current impression is radically different from the original. Airbnb wants to enter not only in the hotel market but in the entire value chain of the tourism business. And it wants to enter to transform the world of travel through the generation that will manage it in the coming decades: the so-called millennials. Continue reading