The founder of a collection of design-led boutique hotels in Ibiza, Majorca and Barcelona is on the hunt for a new site in London to debut the brand in the UK. Despite the economic and political uncertainty surrounding our country and its exit from the EU, Marc Rahola, CEO of OD Hotels is confident that investing in our shores will pay dividends.
OD Hotels is a collection of boutique, design-led hotels. Marc Rahola, the founder and CEO of OD Group has recently moved to London from Ibiza, where the business was founded in 2009, as he believes the UK and the capital city gives the business an opportunity to learn and improve commercially through the quality talent, networking and experiences it provides. They are currently looking for a site in London to open a hotel here and in 2020 will be opening in Madrid and Miami.
We caught up with Rahola to discover why he is choosing now to invest in UK market.
Why are you deciding to invest in properties in the UK right now?
More specifically, I have decided to invest in London. I think it is the most cosmopolitan, experiential hub in the world. In fact, when I have struggled with my creative process and I haven’t been able to see the light in my ideas, I often come to London. The streets, the concepts that you can smell in them, always inspires me so much. So nowadays, that experience is what makes the difference in a hot spot, restaurant, club, hotel…. the best place to be to and evolve with it, is the London experience.
What makes it such an attractive proposition?
London is not just another big city with all the metropolitan services. It is more than that. It’s the way historically and organically that the city has been capturing the different cultures of the world and preserving them as a unique urban city, creating a city of cities. London has a type of texture and energy, layer by layer that motivates a creative environment and it is not in any other place of the world. Neither New York nor Paris has this vibe and at same time it is a city that still has human character that accepts you rather than rejects you.
How is the UK different to other countries where you operate?
As a Spanish entrepreneur I have always admired how pragmatic the English are and the culture of seeing failure as tool to improve and learn. In fact, I’ve always felt strange in my country as it is much more political, and failure is not something that is accepted, it is seen as the end, whereas in the UK it would be seen as the beginning.
How are you bracing for Brexit?
We’ll see what happens and how we’ll have to adapt to the new scenario. Those that succeed will be those who can adapt quickly rather than those which are just the biggest companies. I have faith in this city and in this great country. The UK will have to face how it wants to be ruled and if common sense is used, I think in the long term it could offer positive opportunities. Only time will tell if it really was good decision or not.
Will a ‘no deal Brexit’ impact how you do business?
Every decision needs to be made with common sense, and common sense says that a non-negotiated exit from Europe is a bad result for everyone. I hope that there will be a scenario where they find a way to negotiate a deal that works for both parties, but if not we’ll adapt, we’ll have too.
Has it been difficult to find the right properties in the UK?
It is always tough to find the right assets at right price. We prefer to study the urban developments with a long-term strategy rather than just chase assets. We want to make sure we have a really good understanding of the plan and urban structure of the places we want to invest in. Understanding aspects like the improvements in public and private infrastructures and projects, museums, offices, changes on town planning etc. Once we have understood the real value of the city and its long term plan, we can decide to plant our seeds.
What areas are you looking at for further expansion in the UK?
Firstly, London, secondly London again and perhaps thirdly if we are well established, we’ll look to expand to secondaries cities such as Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds or Newcastle.