A few weeks ago, Nic ran a workshop getting small groups of people and the owners of the Quinta to extract the brand of Quinta das Relvinhas. For this Nic used a card game based on archetypes, differentiating between Vision, Sound, Taste and Behaviour. The Quinta has so much potential but suffers of a mixed bag of messages, creating wrong expectations and not meeting them by claiming something it is no or has moved away from. The objective was to discuss the present and the future ideas of the brand path the direction forward. This was why it was great that the owners of the Quinta were there too, simultaneously smaller groups also did the exercise. However, right from the onset, it was difficult for everyone to differentiate between what the Quinta is now, was and what it potentially could be. It created interesting discussions and the end result were the personalities of the explorer, the innocent and the magician.
All three types seek Risk and Independence. This definitely reflects the spontaneous personality of the Quinta. But shall it stay this way? What do the owners want to do? How much do they wish to be involved in running their business and are they ready to delegate and create change within their property? All very relevant questions, all of which could not be clearly answered with the confidence of not changing their mind the next moment or let it be two weeks later, hence most work was suspended from our side. Why run after a slippery fish when you are not even getting paid for the work?!
From this I had a first stab at the philosophy of the Quinta.
In my previous blog post I mentioned what character I associate with the Quinta, but we are a long way off finishing the positioning, branding or details of the place to actually start its transformation. For this reason we hosted a 2.5 hour workshop today involving the owners and the rest of the group who have made the Quinta their home in the last 6 weeks.
Above is the schedule. The workshop was run by Julia with Nic and me running bits of the exercises. I also presented the pictures of last weeks research (to give some ideas on how other hostels feel and look) and let the groups into the different spaces to come up with quick sketches and ideas into what the rooms could transform. Having collected lots of ideas for the spaces and whilst coming up with more, we now need to look at the philosophy to work from the core outwards into styling and exact details.
Between the 21st and 29th of October I stayed in Lisbon during the week to research materials and guided walking tours (for the Veredas project) and marketing materials and hostel experiences (for the Quinta das Relvinhas). I stayed in four different hostels all together, three in Lisbon close to Chaido and one night in Sintra. Each of the hostels had a different feel and history and was accommodating a slightly different segmentation of traveler.
What does your hostel feel like?
Poets Hostel, Lisbon – is a young creative professional who sometimes is too busy and structured to go with the flow and who is very predictable.
Old Town Hostel, Lisbon – is an old and wise hippy who lives to have interesting conversations to meet new people and recommending them individual adventures.
Nice Way Hostel, Sintra – is a warming, home-like caring mother who likes to ensure everyone is alright and feeling at home.
Lisb’on Hostel, Lisbon – Styled and well dressed. Too busy and big to take a minute to get to know the people staying there. It’s an introverted perfectionist.
The challenge for the Quinta
Quinta das Relvinhas is now a scruffy middle aged woman who has let herself go a little and likes to collect and cling on to memories. The marks of a turbulent past can be seen in her wrinkles, but her past beauty is still very present – she is just a little disheartened to make the effort.
Let’s transform and support the Quinta to welcome travelers, like her grandchildren. To carry herself proudly and confidently, sharing her experiences and supporting and listening to everyone who is stepping through her doors. Sharing old wisdom and thoughtful words.
In our second week, Julia, Gary and I went to Vila Foia, a B&B east of Monchique to see what the day to day tasks are. The guest house is managed by Stephanie, Lily helping in the kitchen and another local to maintain the garden and green areas. Villa Foia is classified as a sustainable guest house and has solar thermal, is build with local building materials and employs locals. The house is owned by P. Ackerman, and part of the Stiftung Kreuzberg. It has been running for a whole year now with occupancy peaking in August.
Due to the little information upfront we only set the breakfast tables, before Julia and I were taken down to the laundry room to see Fatima – a lovely Portuguese cleaning lady who helps with the laundry and cleaning of the rooms two days a week in low season. First we helped Fatima to take down bed sheets from the drying line, next I mangled all Pillow cases. Julia, very proficient in Spanish talked away in Portuguese attempts. It was a great opportunity to improve my understanding and I got most of the gist and was able to express simple things like ‘at the house of my parents, we also had a mangeling machine’. In fact, very useful every day phrases! Anyway, when mangling, everything is mangled twice before a third and last time – folded. Also keep an eye out for dirt marks.
After that we helped clear the tables after breakfast and feasted on the left overs. Next Stephanie showed us the booking system and to do sheet for the day – a paper version for each month and explained the challenge in busy months to reach high occupancy and arranging the rooms so that guests would not need to be asked to move rooms during their stay. Warming up a little and noticing our genuine interest she elaborated on experiences with clients e.g. people who forgot to pay, or write bad reviews on booking.com (there main POS), or understanding the stress catering for 24 people if you are by yourself. It’s always the bad that stick in one’s head.
After that Lily asked me to help her with the rooms, cleaning occupied rooms and preparing rooms for new guests. The rooms get cleaned twice weekly whilst occupied. The nice little touches:
- Fresh flowers
- Fresh, refrigerated fruit
- Bottle of water and glasses (Bottom up)
- Triangles folded into toilet paper and tissues
- Every guest receives a torch on arrival. (It’s quite dark outside at night)
- Every room is called a local plant
- Every bath room has a different painted tile as a centre piece (nice detail to tell new guests when showing them their room)
When occupied beds are shaken, to shake off hair and alike, the bed linen pulled and stretched, pillow are puffed and the bed sheets folded in thirds. All surfaces in the bathroom are wiped with alcohol cleaner, vacuum cleaned, and all leaves from the balcony are collected together. Finally the floor is mopped, the dirty glasses, plates or cutlery are replaced and new fruit is provided.