A few weeks ago, we dined in the restaurant of the luxury 5-star hotel the Villa Magna in Madrid where we had a wonderful experience and as you know, here at The Luxury Editor we love to find out more about the people behind our favourite luxury brands. So we’re delighted to share with you this interview with Charles Morris General Manager of Villa Magna (Madrid). Charles is a seasoned luxury hotelier having been the General Manager of The Leela Palace Kempinski, New Delhi, General Manager of the Peninsula Bangkok as well as working at the Six Senses Maldives, Soneva Fushi Resort & Spa and Resident Manager of Le Touessrok Hotel in Mauritius. Read on to find out more about Charles and the beautiful Villa Magna hotel.
Madrid is becoming synonymous for luxury hotel experiences, what makes Villa Magna stand out from other luxury hotels in the city?
The quality of the interior design of the hotel is key. During the renovation of the Villa Magna in 2007 and 2008 Thomas Urquijo, a well-known Spanish interior designer, bought a real sense of luxury to the hotel; an elegance in the décor of the public areas and a timeless and contemporary style in our guest rooms and suites.
Ultimately the quality of our personalized service, the attention to detail and the importance we attach to guest recognition are quality standards of a luxury hotel that make us stand out. The length of service of many of our guest contact staff create what could only be described as an intuitive level of service enjoyed by many of our guests that have been staying with us for many years.
You have a long career in the luxury hospitality sector, why did you choose to work in this industry and what are your top tips for someone starting / enhancing their own career in this exciting sector?
As a teenager I really enjoyed staying in nice hotels; the design, the architecture, the luxuries of the finer things in life and I was intrigued by stories of luxury hotels, particularly in Asia. So much so that at the first opportunity I went to work in Hong Kong at the age of 26.
The number of luxury hospitality brands has increased many fold in the past few years, the opportunities are immense just pick your niche and, if you are passionate about what you are doing, the sky is the limit.
The sector is becoming increasingly competitive, so always look to develop your career by moving when interesting opportunities come your way. An entrepreneurial approach is key to success.
You started as GM of Villa Magna in 2011 how has the hotel changed over the years?
I know that our guests expect the very highest standards of service, standards that I am very familiar with given my experience in the luxury hotel sector over the past thirty years.
Since my arrival in 2011 I have endeavoured to impress upon my Villa Magna colleagues that service standards are the key to our success and it is in this area that I believe that the hotel has changed the most, working with a General Manager with more than thirty years of international experience.
Tell us about an average day for you in the hotel – if such a thing exists!
Most recently my days have been consumed by the redevelopment of the Mytha Spa that is ongoing and will be completed in April.
An average day for me is all about meeting people, hotel guests, familiar faces from the local community and, most importantly, the time to talk and discuss with members of the staff.
What does 2018 hold for Villa Magna?
We are very excited by the opening of the new Mytha Spa; a larger gym, four treatment rooms and a wet area that will including a jacuzzi, a steam room, a sauna and a hamam will provide our hotel and local guests alike with an exciting new facility dedicated to the wellbeing of the body.
A revamped lower ground floor with the Mytha Spa and Banquet functions and meeting rooms promises to be busier than ever.
Villa Magna is part of the Mytha Hotel group. What qualities does the group bring to each hotel in its portfolio?
To bring together iconic one-of-a-kind hotels is what Mytha Hotel Anthology has achieved in just the last year.
Now that we are Mytha Hotel Anthology my colleagues and I endeavor to strength the bond between each of our seven hotels so we represent the vision, the mission and the values as one group, one team, one family.
We have dined at restaurant Villa Magna which was a fabulous experience, please tell our readers about the background to the restaurant and what they can expect when dining there.
Behind the history of the restaurant there is honesty, enthusiasm, a good team that knows how to select the best seasonal products every day, something that is “authentic”.
Glamor and elegance define the atmosphere of the restaurant. We offer traditional dishes with technique and above all cuisine made with passion in which highlights the perfect synchrony of forms and flavors of traditional and contemporary cuisine.
The success of the restaurant is the concerns of excellence of the team.
What epitomises luxury (in the travel and hospitality world) for you?
The relationship that a customer establishes with a brand does epitomize luxury to me. It is a link that originates with a psychological process in the client’s mind. The purchase of luxury goods does not arise from a functional need, but from an emotional need, a desire, the luxury is associated with special theatre experiences.
Good service is essential, solve problems and exceed expectations always with a friendly treatment. Remember each client and their preferences.
Luxury is a way of life, being able to enjoy time in a certain way where that place, that service or that object makes you feel special. Some of what you cannot enjoy daily as it would cease to be luxury.
Luxury must offer guarantee, high quality as differentiating factor and exclusivity.
For someone coming to the city for the first time what are the essentials you recommend they do while they are there?
Madrid will take you from narrow boutique-lined streets to wide designer-lined avenues, from the world’s oldest restaurant to one of the most celebrated newcomers to high cuisine.
There are many different cities in Madrid and all of them are exciting and captivating. There is historic Madrid that will transport you to distant times, from the remains of the Arabic walls to the winding streets that surround it. Here you can lose yourself in the 16th and 17th centuries: the Madrid de los Austrias (Hapsburg Madrid). Walking through its old town you can traverse the city’s history and experience one of its most classic sides. From the Plaza de Oriente to the Puerta del Sol, passing through Plaza de la Paja, Plaza de la Villa, Plaza Mayor and their surroundings.
One of the most attractive aspects of Madrid is its culture. Spain is a country of great artists and the Prado-Recoletos area is one of the most important in the world, given that it contains some of the most prestigious art galleries that are home to a wealth of riches: the Prado Museum, the National Library, the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum and the Reina Sofía Museum, where one can find Picasso’s Guernica.
For fashion and design lovers there is a Madrid of shopping. From international boutique retailers and large shopping centres, located in the Salamanca neighbourhood just next to the Villa Magna.
If you want to relax and leave the asphalt behind, you can dive into the Madrid of gardens and parks. But if there is one garden which the Madrileños truly love it is the Parque de El Buen Retiro, with its lake, the monument to Alfonso XII, the Crystal Palace and the Ángel Caído.
Its gastronomic wealth is equal to the other great gourmet capitals of the world. Michelin-star restaurants or the typical old taverns that are chock full of local charm. It is a city where one eats with the eyes and enjoys with the palate.
A city like this is full of life, family activities, dancing, theatre, and musicals on Gran Vía.