Gustavo Filgueiras: CEO of Hotel Emiliano

What's Your Native AdVice:

Gustavo Filgueiras is the CEO of Hotel Emiliano, a Leading Luxury Hotel in Sao Paulo. Responsible for strategic, operational, and financial capacity of the hotel, Mr. Filgueiras participated in several ventures in construction and real state.

He graduated in Architecture and conducted his post-graduate work in Business Administration at the Getulio Vargas Foundation. Mr. Filgueiras also focused on executive programs, such as the Executive Program for Growing Companies and the Managing Talent for Strategic Advantage Program, both in Stanford University. And last year he joined the YPO Group.

He is the hotel director since 2005, and the outcome of all this work and achievements came in 2008, when the hotel was elected as Trip Advisor Travelers Choice Award Winner (awarded also for 2009). In 2010 the hotel achieved first place at the Leading Hotels of the World Quality Assurance Award, as the best hotel in South America.

How did you get into the hospitality industry?

I’ve graduated as an architect and did a Master on Business, but I just got involved with hospitality at the construction of the Emiliano Hotel. Since the first moment I got fascinated by the concept of a very personalized and exclusive hotel. The way that the functionality of a hotel drives the architecture is amazing.

You have to think about the way of living of your clientele, how it will impact the hotel operation and how this hotel will age across the years.

During the construction I learned the hospitality theory understanding how everything should work, but after the opening of the hotel, and working with a very experienced team, all these theories became real.

Tell us about Hotel Emiliano. What inspired the idea and what is your vision for the hotel?

The idea was inspired at the change of behavior of the luxury travelers, where they were looking for a more exclusive, personalized and caring experience. The reflect of that was the Emiliano Hotel: a small luxury property (only 56 rooms and suites), with a very premium location, in the heart of Jardings Neighbourhood (where you may walk to the best shops, art galeries and restaurants in town, and also be very close to the main South America financial district), offering the best room and products you have available in Brazil (ex. the best sleeping experience, with the best bed, 100% down duvet and pillows, and Egyptian cotton 400 tpi sheets.) and finally, hosted by a very professional and caring service (headed by a cool team of butlers - The Emiliano has around 4 staff for each guest room).

Our vision is to be the today’s most sophisticated Brazilian hospitality experience that differentiates itself by directly reflecting the caring and friendly personality of the Brazilian people, and their unique style and spirit.

What strategic partnerships/marketing strategies have you implemented that have attributed to Hotel Emiliano's success?

We believe that the promotion of a hotel has to be a consequence of the extraordinary experiences that your clients will remember after leaving your hotel.

So our main focus is about the consistency of the hotel, and also how we host this experience, and our partnerships are all about to supporting that.

Recently we made a partnership with Audi, where we changed all our transportation service for Audi A4 and A6 cars, all of them with wi-fi and very polite and multi-language drivers.

Another example is to do great relevant things about your hotel. Two years ago we have created the coolest room in São Paulo, the Cube Suite, a 135sqm room with a 180 degrees view of the city, exclusive pool and direct access to our Helipad. We also launched the new SPA Santapele, based on Santapele products (a Brazilian Cosmetic Brand based on Amazonian ingredients, that supplies all our amenities) and at Sisley Treatment Protocoles.

The Emiliano brand expansion also is very relevant, next May we will open the Emiliano Rio de Janeiro.

What industry trends are you noticing and how do you capitalize on them?

Luxury travelers are looking for new experiences, new destinations and new brands to satisfy their personal quest for diversity. Travel increasingly is pursued as an escape from everyday life: Escape the ordinary, experience new and different cultures and live life in a better, more exciting and more comfortable fashion.

To be cool, sexy, fun, friendly and caring personality is part of the brazilian people and we have perfected how to explore these atributes and deliver a very unique and authentic experience to the Emiliano clients.

Their  way of living also influenced our new developments, as the Cube and Executive Suite at the Emiliano São Paulo, aswell the new Emiliano Rio de Janeiro. Larger rooms, connecting the room with the bath experience , supported with a lot of technology, are the new features of our new rooms. In RJ, for example, our smaller room fas 45sqm.

Life Motto?

To be consistent, respected and credible for doing relevant things.

Your greatest success as CEO of Hotel Emiliano? Most difficult moment-how did you overcome and what did you learn?

The greatest success is the development of the new Emiliano Rio de Janeiro, and also sustaining the Emiliano São Paulo as the reference as the best Luxury Hotel in Brazil after almost 15 years of operation.

Setting the deal of the Emiliano Rio de Janeiro was also the most difficult one. The Brazilian Economy was booming and we were competing with all main international hospitality brands for RJ. The real-estate prices were on Sky. We had to structure, in a very short period of time, the business plan, bidding proposal, and at the funding for the acquisition. We had the deal in hands and off hands several times in a few months. The main lesson was to have strong concepts and stick to your principles.

Your advice to an aspiring hotelier?

Work with hotels with strong and relevant concepts, to have focus on long term consistency and surprise the clients with the  small details.

A good hotel operation is based on people, so you have always to be close to your team.

Describe the ideal experience at Hotel Emiliano.

An Ideal experience is when you explore all you senses during your stay. Since your arrival at the airport, hosted by one of our drivers in very luxury cars, caring about magazines you may be interested reading, offering wi-fi for your convenience. Continued by one of our butlers welcoming you at the door and escorting you directly to your room, unpacking your bags, in a very servant and elegant way, organizing your clothes according to your preference. A wellness culture is present at the hotel and may be explored at the Emiliano Restaurant, that use the majority of your ingredients provided by small local organic producers, and also at the SPA Santapele, that has many treatments based at the Sisley and Santapele products. Our Spa offers private Yoga classes with experts, or may prepare an aromatic essencial oil bath at your room, or only prove a relaxing experience at its external space with japanese “ofuro” bathtubs.

The Emiliano Restaurant is renown by having, on saturdays, sundays and holidays, the best brunch of the city. The sleeping experience is very important for us, this is supported by our special Serta super king size beds, set with 400 inches per tread Egyptian cotton sheets and embraced by 100% down pillows and duvets. Knowing the guests by their names and appreciating their return is part of our mentality, and  we make our clients arriving at home, every time they arrive at the Emiliano.

How do you motivate your employees?

I believe you have to lead by example and to be close to your team, hearing them and doing the right questions.

We also promote a community concept between our team, creating incentives for them to creat greater connections among them, sharing common preferences and creating friendship.

What's next for Hotel Emiliano?

Consolidating the Emiliano Hospitality brand at the route Rio-São Paulo, with the new opening of the Emiliano Rio de Janeiro, and also the beginning of the development of our new hotel Emiliano Paraty.

Paraty is a historical beach city right between  São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. The main hole of the Emiliano Paraty is to create a new standard for Luxury Resort Properties in Brazil. The hotel will all based on a very strong wellness concept, integraded with a prestine rain forest, added by the design of Foster + Partners, hosted by the Emiliano Caring and Friendly personality, and finally very sustainable and supportive for all the community that lives around the preservation reserve that we are inserted.