5 QUESTIONS TO GUILHERME CASTRO, CEO OF SAMBA HOTEIS
Castro highlights the Brazilian hotel management company and its debut in the Middle East with Bossa Nova in Beirut.
1. How did you assess the market before founding the company in Brazil? We conducted a thorough market study and came up with a solid plan that matches the great business opportunity we have at hand. We understood the market was screaming for new ways to drive a hotel business from both the stakeholders and clients’ stand point. Stakeholders were dissatisfied with their partnership with international companies, due to lack of communication, high costs and unreasonable fees.
2. What category does your hotel brand belong to? We have two brands: Samba (midscale) and Bossa Nova (upscale). Both are driven by the same main idea and concept of providing a high quality of service. We now understand that clients are no longer looking at staying in “nice” hotels, but are expecting a unique property highlighted by great ambience and an above standard experience.
3. How did you finance your venture? So far, we did it independently, despite several partnership proposals. The company has to reach a more mature level before launching such partnerships. However, we drive great joint ventures with several hotels where we share part of the investment, but not in the main company.
4. Why did you decide to open the first Bossa Nova hotel in Beirut? As a historian, I really enjoy Middle Eastern culture, especially the Lebanese culture, since its presence is largely felt in Brazil. The Bossa Nova brand sounds both exotic and familiar to the Lebanese market, considering this as a strong selling point for penetrating the Middle East. From a corporate perspective, Lebanon is the second country in the Mastercard Index expenditures in Middle East/africa, due to the fact that many international companies have chosen to have their Middle East offices in Beirut. The Bossa Nova Beirut Hotel is located in the Sin el Fil district and will be a boutique hotel, focusing mainly on the upscale corporate sector. Daily rates will range between USD 90 and 150.
5. Why did you take the leap into ownership? When I perceived that competitiveness was not the most important part of the company I was working for. I had a consistent 16-year career at Hilton, working in different hotels and corporate offices. I needed to take my career in another direction. I consider myself a person who has an entrepreneurship soul, with a need to be challenged rather than remain comfortable holding on to a big title. In just three short years, we have managed to grow the chain, are currently running six hotels and expanding to 10 hotels by the end of this year. Two of them were taken over from international brands, such as Accor.