You can open the room by mobile phone and order a massage.

You can open the room by mobile phone and order a massage.

Use your mobile to open your room and book a massage. We rely on technology, says the co-owner of Orea Hotels

The pandemic was a struggle for the Orea Hotels chain to survive. Now, the largest hotel chain in the Czech Republic, which is owned by the investment company Cimex Group, is slowly breathing a sigh of relief. And it is starting to look around for other opportunities. According to Jana Sobotová, co-owner of Cimex Group, who founded it together with Petr Lukes, the company has a number of new projects in the Czech Republic and abroad. It is also considering further expansion. The company, with a global portfolio worth hundreds of millions of dollars, is preparing, for example, the conversion of the former St. Gabriel’s Monastery in Smíchov into a hotel complex, is fully embarking on the Orea Place serviced apartment project and wants to focus more on flexible offices. Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)

Your main business is the Orea Hotels chain. How did you manage to survive the pandemic?

It was a fight for survival. In the Czech Republic, hotels were closed for a very long time compared to other countries and this had an impact on the results. Unfortunately, we had to say goodbye to almost a tenth of our staff, and many others left for other industries because of the long uncertainty during the closure. We operated in crisis management, monitored daily cash flow, negotiated with banks and suppliers. We sold several residential projects in the United States, and thanks to this and the hard work of all managers and employees at both Orea Hotels and Cimex, we stabilized the situation. And once the arrangements were loosened, we were ready to open right away. Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)

The luxury of a hotel, the perks of an apartment. Orea has launched a new concept in the centre of Prague

Filip Saiver – 3 minuty čtení

We are slowly recovering and for example this summer we had really nice results. In the third quarter of this year, we grew up to eleven percent compared to 2019. But unfortunately, the whole year is well below 2019 because of the closure in the first half of the year.

Has the composition of the guests changed in any way?

This year we were successful mainly due to individual clients compared to other years when we had more congress tourism. In the current year, sales for congresses are about 25 percent. Now it seemed that our corporate clientele was starting to return, but covid slowed it down again.

In the past two years, you have reconstructed five hotels, in which you have invested almost a billion crowns. What do you promise?

Our hotels really needed it. There was an investment deficit. Five years ago, Gorjan Lazarov took over the management of Orea Hotels, who convinced us as the owner that investing in the product really makes sense. And that modernization will not only bring more interest to customers, but also to quality workers.

Gorjan managed to motivate a team of employees who managed this year even in limited numbers. He changed the whole company, today it is a completely different company. And this is reflected in better reviews from guests who perceive it.

Hodláte rekonstruovat i další hotely?

We have several hotels waiting to be rebuilt: Hotel Bílý horec in Harrachov, Hotel Špičák in Šumava or Hotel Voroněž II in Brno. We are also preparing the reconstruction of the spa in the Horizont Resort in Šumava, in the Devět Skal Resort in the Vysočina region and a new private spa in the Congress Hotel Brno.

Plánujete síť Orea Hotels dál rozšiřovat?

Yes. For example, we are planning to build a hotel in Mariánské Lázně, which should bring a new product to the city – a modern and less spa. Mariánské Lázně is a beautiful place with amazing scenery and great sports opportunities. In our opinion, they have great potential. We have a number of properties there and we believe that thanks to new projects and plans we will be able to revive this little “sleeping” city more. We also have two projects ready in the center of Prague. This is a planned reconstruction of two connected houses in Hradební and Haštalská streets and another on Senovážné náměstí, both of which should also be operated by Orea.

Are you also considering franchises in the future?

Chceme rozšiřovat naši síť především formou management kontraktů. Tímto způsobem bychom ke stávajícím patnácti hotelům rádi přidali alespoň dalších deset. Orea je teď připravena manažersky pojmout výrazně větší množství hotelů. Máme co nabídnout, hlavně co se týče úrovně řízení a nastavených standardů.

Management kontrakt může být pro některé vlastníky výhodným řešením. Díky němu nezískají jen rezervační systém s mnoha sty tisíci stávajících klientů, ale také úspory na vstupech, protože je samozřejmě rozdíl v ceně produktů při odběrech pro jeden hotel, nebo dvacet. Další velkou výhodou potom může být i cenné know-how v případě rekonstrukcí, renovací a otevírání nových provozů nebo důvěra bankovních institucí v případě poskytování úvěrů.

You are also preparing a new hotel in the Gabriel Loci building in the former monastery of St. Gabriel in Smíchov. What does it look like with this project so far?

Although it is not located in the very center of the city, it is an amazing location, a walk through the park will take you to the Castle. We realize that the reconstruction will be very expensive and time consuming. When you build a hotel on a green field, it has a clearly set business model in an excel spreadsheet and with a certain degree of risk you know when to start earning. In this case, however, it does not work. This project will require a lot more work, money and at the same time creativity, so that we can find a model that can work. And not only from a monumental and technical-construction point of view, but also from an economic and investor point of view, so that we can implement it at all.

How much money and time will it take?

As for the investment, I don’t want to say a specific number, because every time one falls, it turns out that it’s still not enough. We would like to obtain a zoning decision by 2023. But it can take longer, of course. If we manage to start building in the next four or five years, we will be happy. If it works out, it will be much more than just building an “next” hotel. It is not only a great challenge and adventure for us, but also fun.

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Until then, will Gabriel Loci continue to function as a cultural space?

The building was terribly neglected, so at first we didn’t know if anything was going to be held there. However, after some partial emergency repairs, it turned out that it could work. Large cultural events such as Designblok and Fashion Week, theater performances and concerts took place there. The premises are also used by artists as their studios. And if everything runs as before, there is no reason to change anything until the reconstruction. Po nějakých dílčích havarijních opravách se ale ukázalo, že fungovat může. Uskutečnily se tam velké kulturní akce jako Designblok a Fashion Week, divadelní představení i koncerty. Prostory využívají také umělci jako své ateliéry.

Another interesting project is Orea Place. What are your plans with him?

Jde o koncept servisovaných apartmánů pro krátkodobé i dlouhodobé pronájmy. Je to alternativa k Airbnb, ale v mnoha ohledech uživatelsky přátelštější. Přímo na místě máte majordoma, na kterého se můžete kdykoli obrátit, máte zajištěný určitý standard a možnost pravidelného úklidu. A pokud je něco potřeba rychle vyřešit, nemusíte se s majiteli domlouvat složitě na dálku. První Orea Place jsme otevřeli v Senovážné ulici v Praze a připravujeme další.

Where specifically?

Vedle Prahy uvažujeme o Orea Place v Mariánských Lázních, ale dobře by tento model mohl fungovat i v Brně, na Šumavě nebo v Krkonoších. Nicméně vždy se musí produkt přizpůsobit dané lokalitě. Mimochodem právě servisované apartmány měly nesmírný úspěch ve Spojených státech v době uzavřených hotelů. Za mě je to rozhodně produkt, který stojí za to rozvíjet. A časem třeba můžeme Orea Place provozovat i pro další vlastníky.

Pay for the hotel as much as you want. A startup is heading to the Czech Republic, which will allow you to do so

Pavla Francová – 3 minuty čtení

Offices are also part of your portfolio. How much has the pandemic affected them?

Zásah nebyl tak tvrdý jako u hotelů. Navíc propad přišel o něco později než v ubytovacích službách, takže se to naštěstí minulo časově. Výrazně se ale změnil kancelářský trh. Firmy chtějí krátkodobější pronájmy, mít možnost rozšířit nebo snížit kapacitu. Nechtějí se k ničemu zavazovat na delší dobu a požadují flexibilitu. A tomu se teď snažíme přizpůsobit.

Souvisí s tím i vaše aktivity v oblasti coworkingu?

We have the Mo-Cha project, which we originally started in Brno. The Moravian Cottage, hence Mo-Cha, is a space next to our Orea Congress Hotel Brno. And the concept of shared jobs and offices together with the space for various business, social and training events in connection with the offer and function of the hotel next door made sense for its use. We are currently preparing a similar project in industrial style on Wenceslas Square. Thanks to the fact that these are flexible serviced offices, we are responding to the just changed demand in the office market.

When should the project on Wenceslas Square be finished?

We are currently waiting for perhaps the last administrative act and we hope that construction will begin soon. Implementation should take less than a year.

In these uncertain times, when construction and material prices are rising sharply, how are you doing to complete new projects?

Nárůst cen je bohužel poměrně dramatický a je to náročné. Stavebním firmám chybí materiál a často ani nevědí, jestli ho budou umět v daném čase dodat. A stejně tak jako všechny je trápí nedostatek zaměstnanců. Jak pro stavebnictví, tak pro oblast ubytování a pohostinství by bylo skvělé, kdyby se administrativně zjednodušilo zaměstnávání cizinců. S téměř nulovou nezaměstnaností se místa v podobných oborech velmi těžko obsazují.

Does technology help you with the lack of people?

All newly reconstructed projects are already prepared in such a way that technologies make their stay with us as easy as possible. After installation, open the door with your phone, order a massage via the application or solve any other request. On the one hand, it is user-friendly, on the other hand, it also saves the time of the staff, who can pay even more attention to the guests in cases that really require him. In addition, we have so far tried to use robots in operation for recovery. In the Pyramida hotel, for example, we had the humainoid Pepper, who advised guests on how to find their way around the hotel and offered them tourist advice, while in the Horizont Resort, the operating robot takes away the dishes.

Christmas at the hotel? Augustine invites to the holidays to her luxury with a view of the Castle

Robert Sattler – 3 minuty čtení

In addition to the Czech Republic, you also work abroad. What projects do you have there?

We have long-term activities in the United States. At the end of 2012, we bought a stake in Gencom Group, through which we entered a number of hotel projects in the USA, the Caribbean, Costa Rica and Bermuda. These are mostly five-star hotels that operate networks such as the Ritz-Carlton, Four Seasons or Rosewood. In addition, we are preparing our own development projects in the USA and at the same time investing in residential housing in priority locations in Florida and Colorado.

Jaké plány máte do budoucna?

As part of a joint venture with the Gencom Group, we are part of a giant hotel and residential project in Costa Rica with the Four Seasons, Andaz by Hyatt and the newly launched six-star Ritz-Carlton. We are also taking part in the planned refurbishment of the Fairmont Hotel in Bermuda, the largest congress hotel in the entire Caribbean. These are projects in top locations and the opportunity to “be there” is certainly exciting and most importantly informative.

Projekty, které v Česku v rámci týmů firem Orea a Cimex řešíme a připravujeme, jsou možná trochu menší co do velikosti, ale jak počtem, tak rozmanitostí určitě neméně zajímavé a atraktivní. Pokud se situace stabilizuje, tak v hledáčku máme i další země jako Rakousko či Chorvatsko. A protože po těch více než třiceti letech od založení společnosti Cimex už víme, že úplně nejdůležitější je motivovaný tým spolupracovníků, tak to je asi naším hlavním plánem do budoucna. Mít kolem sebe lidi, které to baví, jsou zvídaví, permanentně se učí, a hlavně kteří chtějí. Potom jde zvládnout cokoli a kdekoli.

Mobilem si otevřete pokoj i objednáte masáž. Sázíme na technologie, říká spolumajitelka Orea Hotels (forbes.cz)

Nahoru Dolu