Reserve Alecrim is the latest luxurious eco-glamping resort in Santiago do Cacém, ALENTEJO, Portugal. 26-hectare site is a love child of over 20 years attraction to the coast of Alentejano by its co-owner and manager Mário Barbosa. In the following interview, you will discover what of challenges face glamping site owners and investors.
F.Domes: What drove you to the hospitality business?
Mário – Reserva Alecrim: I have always enjoyed life. From sitting at the table to cooking for my friends and family. Over 20 years ago I started work in this space building a house to António, one of the creators of all this concept. At the time he found this place on the coast of Alentejo and immediately fell in love with it, because it was shaped by no one else but nature. About 15 years ago he started thinking about a project in the hospitality business. His value proposition was simple. If a marina may be associated with the atmosphere of luxury, why camping site can not? There comes the first iteration of the Eco Suites Resort. Unfortunately, life takes many unexpected turns, a huge crisis falls on the Portuguese economy and the project had to stop, without the conditions to advance. Recently with the help of Brazillian investors and other operating partners, we were able to purchase the land and ask Antonio for help in creating the “Ultimate Boutique Glamping Site” in Alentejo. He was able to resume his project and work with us to create something we have always strived for in Reserva de Alecrim, Eco Suites & Glamping Boutique Resort in Santiago do Cacém.
F: Was building a luxurious eco-resort a challenging task? Have you faced any obstacles, like the opposition from local authorities?
M: While building anything you must be ready to overcome many obstacles. The main thing while doing something different, is to overcome the mental barriers and believe in what we are doing. It is a long process, but with the right partners and good communication with all the people involved it is possible. We are fortunate enough to be situated in the municipality of Santiago do Cacém, where we have a Mayor and technical people that are very receptive to the projects that value the region. From the outset, we were receiving a huge support without which the project would not take place.
F: You have already offered very upscale eco cottages in your glamping site. Why have you decided to diversify portfolio using glamping domes?
M: For us, the domes represent an incredible piece of design. We are unconditional fans of Richard Buckminster Füller, who inspires us with his legacy. Utilizing the domes as an accommodation is a simple form of homage to the master.
F: Were the glamping dome your first choice or have you considered a different type of semi-permanent structure?
M: From the get-go, it was our intention to create a boutique resort that will be considered the best and most innovative in terms of glamping. It is our intention to accommodate 170 people at a time in comfort and luxury.
F: How do you evaluate the relation of price to the quality of F.Domes. Do you think they were a worthwhile investment?
M: We treat F.Domes as a partner, therefore our decision was not only about the pricing. We have slightly exceeded our budget, but it was completely worth it. Their service is truly impeccable, maintaining constant communication and giving all the confidence we needed. It must be stressed that their service was not only excellent prior to the purchase, but throughout the entire process. From planning to the arrival of the dome, including the way it came packaged, everything was excellent. The assembly technician Paul who assisted us, immediately made a very good contact with our team and was a valuable helper throughout the assembly process. The help of the F.Domes support was exemplary when it comes to solving small problems.
F: Before you made a purchase decision, you have used our 3D product configurator to design and appraise your custom structure. Did you find the tool helpful?
M: The configurator was fundamental. It is a part of F.Domes’ excellent service and a huge differentiator in comparison to the competition.
F: You did not only order six 40m2 glamping domes, but one additional dome with the same base area from our Classic line-up. What will be its purpose?
M: Structure from the Classic line will be used as a reception, where we will welcome and check-in our guests in a unique environment provided by the geodesic dome.
F: You are based in Portugal. The common question we receive whether our structures are suitable for the hot climate. Was that your concern? Did you employ any special appliances to keep the dome cool?
M: We feared that the F.Domes are more suitable to the cold climate and may become extremely warm, but I think we have found the right solutions to solve the issue. Collaboration and experience shared by F.Domes are fundamental to us. Simple things like vented windows and mosquito nets allowing airflow, work like charm. We have additionally used blackout screens for both the Glamping and Classic domes. We are already working with the technical team of F.Domes to solve the heat problem completely, by installing an air conditioner of 12,000 BTUs that keeps the interior cool, even with surrounding temperature exceeding 35 degrees Celsius.
F: You have built your structure very recently, but did you already host visitors in your domes? What is their reaction?
M: Our site is a work still in progress, but the reservations continue to arrive. That makes us very happy. The comments from the first customers were very encouraging. They show us that we are on the right track, with the right product, the right partner and the right team.
F: Would you recommend F.Domes to other glamping site owners?
A: Not only would I recommend them. We are very happy to become part of its success story and we will gladly take part in the following projects.
To find more information about Reserca Alecrim visit their site: Reserva Alecrim and book your stay.