Leonardo López: "The mix of holiday hotel, spa and MICE allows us to deseasonalise".

Leonardo López

The Hotel Carlos I Silgar has an occupancy rate of 70% in August

The director of the Hotel Carlos I Silgar, Leonardo López, explained in an interview with Agenttravel the characteristics of the hotel that allow it to deseasonalise the year and how this summer season is going in the COVID-19 era.

What are the hotel's main attractions?

To begin with, our location in the centre of Sanxenxo, which has become a well-known tourist destination throughout the country. We are 60 metres from Silgar beach and very close to the town centre. Moreover, we are a holiday hotel, but also a Spa and with the capacity to host congresses, which allows us to be open all year round.

We have an area of more than 1,500 square meters dedicated to rooms. We are able to work in 11 sub-rooms with parallel events, in the same way that we can join the 11 rooms to hold events for 350 people. In recent years it has worked very well as a conference hotel because we have attracted many companies, especially medical societies, but also companies from other sectors.

On the other hand, the hotel has 130 rooms of which 127 are standard rooms and three suites. The spa area has around 2,000 square metres of hydrotherapy treatments, several swimming pools, relaxation areas, hot chairs and treatment rooms.

One of the things that the hotel's guests value most is the staff. Our commitment is for the staff to accompany us throughout the year so that they are trained and know how to receive the client when he returns the following year, creating a closer relationship that leads to an annual loyalty rate of 43% with peaks in August of 70%.

What is the profile of the client who stays at the Hotel Carlos I Silgar?
It is a familiar and stable client that does not want to experiment and comes to shot done. People who come to Sanxenxo always repeat.

"Our client is a familiar and stable client who does not want to experiment and comes with a clean slate"

Throughout the year we have national clients and at certain times we have important support from the north of Portugal. In winter, depending on whether it is a weekend or longer periods, we receive clients from all over the north-west of the peninsula: Asturias, Cantabria, the Basque Country, León and even Madrid.

How is the summer season working?
The hotel started on 26 June with tremendous power. We found the hotel full Friday and Saturday. In July it was very relaxed. We had a really low occupancy rate for what was expected, below 50%, when Sanxenxo should have been at 70% and the establishment at 92%. And for now, the month of August looks better, we are at 70%.

It really is a bad year, but the months from June to September are our lungs and that's where we're going to try to get by this year. The figures are good now, but the winter has been very complicated and future forecasts are not encouraging.

We live a lot from the operations of groups and companies in winter. In October we have a very good occupation on the agenda that leads us to think that we can surpass last year's. However, as it is all about groups and conventions, if tomorrow the government decides that no meetings can be held, we drop everything we have for both October and the coming months until March.

But for now we are happy, we are in the sweetest time of the year and the hotel is doing very well. People are being very respectful of the protocols. It seems that the summer is giving us a little truce that allows us to move forward. A short time ago the thought of reaching the 31st of August seemed impossible and now it is there.

How have you prepared the establishment for COVID-19?
The hard work of the last two to three months has been done by the quality department, which is in charge of the pandemic situation.

All the measures they recommended have been taken, such as the use of obligatory masks, distance from social security, marks on the floor, hydro-alcoholic gel dispensers in all entrances, common areas and rooms, breakfast in shifts and an assisted buffet, among others.

"The months from June to September are our lungs and that's where we're going to try to get by this year"

We have also modified the cleaning protocols, which were already very exhaustive, and have even changed the way the rooms are cleaned, adapting them to the hospital style. In the swimming pool areas we have established shifts to guarantee the capacity and distances and we have put a permanent disinfection service in all the areas.

According to the weekly satisfaction surveys, the most important thing for our customers is safety. We don't like to say that we are a safe hotel because nobody is totally safe, but the client shows us that they perceive the safety, the control of the situation and the effort of the staff to maintain the rules.

Do you think that the summer season will be extended if the situation allows it?
It's already getting longer. We have gone from July and August to June-September. And right now we are working with some solvency to start in May. The mix we have of holiday hotel, spa and MICE allows us to deseasonalise the influx.

Thanks to our facilities, which allow us to host large operations, we have achieved a deseasonalisation. As you do things right, one company brings in another. Thus, over the last three years, we have managed to get the MICE client to visit us from April to mid-June and from mid-September to the end of October.

We are de-seasonalising based on the creation of products such as the one aimed at the MICE sector and others such as Halloween, Carnival or Valentine's Day, which have become a classic because the client has liked them and is demanding them from us.

What do travel agencies mean to the hotel?
The agencies are fundamental for us. We have a huge volume of sales through this channel. We would not be able to survive on our own just because we are Sanxenxo and have repeat customers. I'm talking about traditional agencies, where we have great friends and collaborators, not online agencies.

"The value of the public-private partnership has been present for years and can be seen"

How can the administrations help the sector this year?
In Sanxenxo the enhancement of the public-private partnership has been present for years and can be seen. Today's Sanxenxo is not the same as it was 12 years ago. The sector and the administrations have been working hard to improve the destination and its promotion.

We are working to find quality tourism, and it is beginning to bear fruit. An example of this is that there are places in the east and on the islands that are having between 40% and 50% occupation while we are fighting to reach 80%. And this is thanks to that repeat customer.

It is true that at this time we have had to rely on the administration more than ever. We need to continue to have support from the fiscal and employment point of view, because otherwise we are not going to be able to sustain ourselves. All the measures that are taken will be few, but in its fair measure all the support of the administration is essential.

At the level of promotion, I believe that each nation is now playing its game. Each one has its own interests. Everyone is playing to discredit others. In the same way, in Galicia we have to push because other Communities such as Andalusia or Catalonia are doing their campaigns.

In this sense the Xunta has immediately started to move, talking about the health voucher, campaigning, etc. Galicia can be sold as a place that has been less affected, which is less crowded, as is our way of being and living.

Credits https://www.agenttravel.es/noticia-038918_Leonardo-Lopez:--El-mix-de-hotel-vacacional-spa-y-MICE-nos-permite-desestacionalizar-.html