TOMO Hotelier

What do you consider your team’s greatest achievement?
The fact that the team has managed to create a service culture in line with the quality of the hotel, especially when we’re talking about people that didn’t have a hospitality background, some of them were school teachers, and others even bullfighters. But they all made an effort to learn and I can proudly say that today, the team is more consistent and knowledgeable of the service culture we aim to provide guests. Plus, they offer the warm welcome of the Portuguese culture, starting with a genuine ’bom dia’ to every guest.

What do you most value in a hotel for your own holidays?
The sense of being at ease and of being welcomed, the fact that the staff knows the name of my kids and that my kids are able to enjoy their stay as much as Ana, my wife, and I do.

What is one place nearby that every one of your guests should discover?
Monsaraz, a charming medieval village with whitewashed houses, an old castle and fortress walls, a 16th-century church, some local crafts shops and the cherry on top of the cake: the full view over the big lake Alqueva, the vast olive groves and the Alentejo farmland.

What is your dream journey?
I would say that traveling with my wife and my three kids to places where we can discover new and differentiating hospitality projects. I’m always eager to learn more with other hoteliers and with beautiful, intelligent hotels. Right now, I’m planning a trip to South Africa, to finally meet one of these projects and I’m sure it’s going to be a challenge to travel there with two small kids and a new baby but I’m also confident that we’ll get much more out of it because we’re in it as a whole, as a family.

What local dish do you never tire of eating?
Salads made with fresh ingredients from the organic garden. I just love the tiny cherry tomatoes that fill up a plate with colours ranging from yellow to bright red, topped with local goat cheese and scented pennyroyal leaves. Simple and yet so tasty.

What motivated you to become a hotelier?
I never suspected I would become a hotelier. My background is in investment banking, it had nothing to do with hospitality or farming. But on my return to Portugal, after a few years abroad, I found myself in the property that belonged to my family for almost 200 years, totally derelict, not productive anymore and with no one living there, and it just became clear that I wanted to bring it to life, helping this early 19th-century ‘monte’ become a home again, inviting new families to stay and live it, create roots there, alongside the local community.

What was your greatest extravagance in creating your hotel?
My greatest extravagance was actually to refurbish the entire set of buildings without changing them. It was difficult to keep it intact. We were trying to fit different types of guest rooms and cottages, restaurants, a spa, a winery in old farm buildings and cow sheds. But I knew I wanted to keep Barrocal true to its vernacular authenticity, respectful of its original simplicity and functionality, comfortable and still a working farm. I believe we managed to do just that.

Where do you feel happiest on your property?
When I walk around and come across guests enjoying the hotel, seeing the property filled with life. I enjoy meeting new and interesting people, and most of all discover what makes them tick at Barrocal.

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