Generosity creates loyalty, again and again. Think of receiving a present, an act that immediately creates a bond with the donor. Luxury hotels should realise that the more they give, the more they get. Hotel Emiliano in São Paulo is the prime example of a generous hotel. Check-in, and you are offered a short massage, and a bath is drawn for you. Dine in the restaurant and you are offered a glass of sparkling as welcome (it is actually a Mumm sparkling from Argentina). But the gal is jumping ahead. This is a family hotel, owned by construction giant Carlos Filgueiras; the GM is his son Gustavo Filgueiras. It was planned as a 22-floor apartment block but somehow evolved into a 57-room hotel.
Unlike most luxury-level properties in town, this is minimalist. The ground floor is 23-ft ceilings, and living walls, and odd chairs designed by the Campana brothers (the pair who did the octopus lounger, and walls of real celadon cups and saucers, at Iniala in Phuket). I love these chairs, which look as those lengths of golden rope have just been flung about, haphazardly. I sit in one of the chairs looking at the library of paperback books generously displayed underneath the bar counter. I head up to suite 1401, which occupies the whole front of the narrow building. It is Japanese in feel, with wood walls and a paper screen which slides across to hide the bedroom. There is no art. A standing cheval mirror acts as a sculpture, and the shapes of the furniture do the same.
I go down to dinner, in a ground floor space the size of a blown-up squash court. I look at a living wall, and a ceiling-high mirror which makes the room seem even larger. I listen to soul-type music, nibble on addictive white cheese mousse, and red wine-infused onion chutney. My smoked octopus arrives in a white-brimmed bowl shaped like a cardinal’s upturned hat. I go on to Brazilian tuna with organic vegetable salad with shavings of yellow manioc root. Only a few hours later, it seems, I am in the gym – 24/7, with great supplies of fresh fruit. Breakfast arrives, on the dot, and when I go down, still pre-dawn, a car is waiting. Just as the door closes I am handed a paper bag filled with delicious-smelling muffins, for the journey. The Filgueiras family certainly know how to create loyalty.
Yes, this luxury hotel gives so much. Every year locals throng to its suppliers’ fair, an outdoor farmers’ market with lots of tastings. One specially popular event at the last fair was a packing seminar, conducted by hotel concierges. Now I, perhaps somewhat immodestly, think I know quite a bit about packing as I only travel with my Rimowa Porsche Design wheelie, and everything has its special place within. Anathema to me is someone offering to pack for me as I swear they would not be able to get everything in. But I do know that many travellers need help. One tip is certainly to leave all those pairs of shoes behind. And one of my own personal rules is that if any garment is not worn on a trip it is not taken travelling again. Read more, tomorrow…