It takes many attributes to look after one of the world’s top hotels and
Alex; manager of Atzaro Ibiza, is charged with doing exactly that.
Essential Ibiza caught up with him to find out how he manages the lofty
expectations of his exclusive clientele…
What made you choose to settle in Ibiza?
I have lived in Ibiza for eight years now although I have known the island
much longer than that; my grandma bought a house here in 1972 in San Jose.
I used to spend all my summer vacations with my family in Ibiza. Then life
takes you around the world, especially when you work in the hospitality
industry, and after some time away, my wife and I decided to come back and
settle here. Ibiza is like a little country with a lot of international
visitors, there are a lot of opportunities in the hospitality business, we
of course love music and dancing too, so we thought this was a great place
to raise our family and it was easier to settle here as I had the family
house and I knew people from the time I used to spend here on vacation.
It must have felt like coming home for you?
It did, I have some great memories of my time spent here growing up. The
most important thing for me and the most helpful is that, now, in my
professional position, I really try think back to my vacations in Ibiza
and put myself in the shoes of the guest and ask myself, what would I
expect if I was that guest and I have been a guest for a long time on this
island, even although we had our own house, I’ve been to restaurants, to
discotheques, to yachts etc, so I try to really understand what the
expectations of the guest will be and in this place, where people come
with much more expectations than normal, it becomes a much bigger
challenge, which I love.
What was your hotel experience prior to working in Ibiza?
My previous experiences were mostly in business hotels, I have worked in
France, Spain and the United States but always in business hotels and that
was something that I wanted to change. I’m a marketing guy and when I came
to Ibiza I had the opportunity to be the marketing manager of a large
hotel chain for four years. During that time I got to know really well the
type of guests who come to the island, I got to put myself in the shoes of
people on vacation instead of business, which I wasn’t used to, the
customer here is completely different from a business customer in terms of
what their expectations are, which was quite funny. But at the end of the
day I’m a hotel manager, I enjoy the marketing side of things, I think I’m
very good at it but I like to be constantly on the move and challenged, I
like doing new things every day so I prefer managing.
Was it a difficult transition from business to vacation clientele?
No, I have to say, I speak French, English and a little German, as well as
Spanish, so that helps a great deal. I have known the island all of my
life and I love hotels so everything was fine. The only thing I had to
figure out was what is different between the expectations of a business
traveller and that of someone on vacation, which took a little time but
with a bit of patience and listening and observing, I got to know it. But
as I said, I like problems because I don’t view them as problems; I view
them as challenges and this I love.
Atzaro must bring a different level of expectation from its guests than a
normal holiday hotel?
Yes, when I first came to Ibiza and was working in marketing with the
chain of hotels, these included all inclusive hotels and all sorts of
different types of customers, here in Atzaro of course it’s a jump up in
terms of the level of expectation of the clientele. I also have to say
that another challenge we face and something that for me is a beautiful
challenge is rediscovering the real Ibiza. Ibiza is a growing market, one
that is offering a bight future for business but there is a growing trend
of new businesses that fail to understand the history or tradition of the
island. I believe in Atzaro, I am in a place that respects the customers
that we attract, many of who come from inspiring backgrounds such as
fashion, who are at the cutting edge of their field but we also respect
what the essence of Ibiza is. There are new businesses that also respect
the island and I think that helps them to introduce themselves quickly on
the island but there are also some new, growing businesses that think they
can make money quickly on the island by introducing business models from
other successful tourist destinations. I’m thinking about for example of
beautiful places with very nice tourism models like Saint Tropez, which I
respect a lot but they don’t work the same way here. I think you always
have to improve, you always have to listen, you always have to do better,
always have to adapt yourself to the clientele that you attract but on
this island there is a karma that you have to respect.
What have you brought to Atzaro?
This is the sixth season for Atzaro and the fourth season for me managing
it, there is good and bad in the evolutions of companies. I think the good
thing is that we knew how to grow little by little I think it’s important
to have the patience to grow little by little but in a steady way. You
know what you are doing and you go for it. We are in a huge changing
environment, every day, every week and this is the balance that you have
to achieve. Respecting what Ibiza is, respecting the karma of this island
but at the same time never forget to have your own challenge – increase
quality, increase the offer and do new things and face challenges every
day so that you don’t get in a comfortable position.
How would you describe your relationship with the owners of Atzaro?
I have a wonderful relationship with the owners; they are people that
really have a matter of driving business that I like. They are the
dreamers and I think owners have to be dreamers, I would love to die with
five percent of the creativity and dreams that my owners have but I am the
one that has to keep the feet on the ground and bring these dreams and
images to something that is organized and sustainable because I believe in
companies that are sustainable because sustainability brings also quality
in the long term. You can give quality in the short term if you’re margin
is zero percent but giving quality when your margin is 35 or 40%, that’s a
What are the long term challenges for Atzaro?
We have a mission statement of course, we question ourselves, we have one
month of analysis at the end of each season where all the staff managers
participate and we do an evaluation of the season, ourselves and we do an
evaluation with the purveyors to see how they feel as a client of Atzaro
and we put all of these in a melting pot and we draw conclusions from them
and this helps us grow, become better people, to become better managers
and to be better placed for my guests and for reaching easily the
expectations for growing. The mission statement in Atzaro, one day we say,
because Atzaro as you know is hotel, a spa, a restaurant or events, it is
a lot of things, but lets take the restaurant for example. One day we say
in our mission statement, we want to be a one star Michelin restaurant.
Sounds great, sounds quality, sounds expensive.
Really, that is really your mission statement? Or should your mission
statement be to be one out of the three most recognized restaurants in
Ibiza, doesn’t that sound closer to what you are, you don’t need that
Michelin star for that and if you did have it, you wouldn’t be one of the
three most recognized restaurants in Ibiza because what are the values of
a Michelin star? Are they the same as the values of our guests that are
coming to Ibiza?
They are coming here to get away from that. That’s why we are now having
dinner in a garden with a red lamp with nice sushi but then we are going
to have a wild chicken from Ibiza and we will have tempura but we will
also have Swiss chocolate, because we are in Ibiza! And this is what we
have to focus on offering to our guests, a melting pot but with connecting
dots and the connecting dots are the sense of humour, the quality, the
open mind and the respect.