23 May 2019 Leisure Handbook

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Leisure Handbook - Carlos Couturier


Carlos Couturier

Grupo Habita has built a portfolio of unusual hotels in unexpected places. We talk to the co-founder

Magali Robathan, CLAD mag
Couturier: we like to surprise our guests
Hotel Endemico in Mexico has won an award for its unusual setting and pod rooms
Grupo Habita’s hotels all have a special dimension. In New York, the Hotel Americano has a roof terrace with great views.
Hotel Habita in Mexico City is the flagship, with its rooftop pool

The co-founder of stylish Mexican boutique hotel company Grupo Habita tells Magali Robathan about his plans for the group and what drives him.

How and when was the idea for launching Grupo Habita born?
We started the construction of our first hotel in 1996 and we opened Hotel Habita in Mexico City in 2000. At the time, my business partners Moises and Rafael Micha were investment bankers and I was exporting perishables. We didn’t really want to be hoteliers, but we couldn’t find anyone to manage the hotel, so we split up the responsibilities and became hoteliers in our spare time.

We soon realised that managing a hotel was a full time job. Within a few years we changed our lives around so we were all 100 per cent involved in the hotel.

What sets Grupo Habita hotels apart from other operations?
Our original sense of aesthetics. The smiles of our staff. Our choices of location and the communities that we have built around us.

What is the philosophy of Grupo Habita?
To be authentic, simple and ageless.

What is your role?
I’m in charge of development. I get to do the fun part!

How difficult was it to get your first hotel open?
We were very naive and inexperienced back then. It all just seemed easy and fun – I guess we were young and full of drive. It seems so much more difficult now, partly because we’ve become so much more demanding of ourselves.

How do you ensure that each of your hotels has its own personality?
By never repeating ourselves.

How do you choose the designers for your hotels?
By pure instinct. We choose people who are talented, with committed creative minds and who are not over-exposed.

What elements do you need to take into account when planning a new hotel?
We always like to surprise people, either through the location, the architecture, the food concept or the choices of contemporary art pieces which are displayed in the hotels.

What do you look for in a potential location?
An interesting community. Our neighbours always make us look good and are usually our main promoters.

Why do you think your hotels have been such a success?
Hard work and a great team.

What’s your long-term plan for the business?
We’d like to stay focused on what we are already doing. We don’t like to open more than one hotel a year. We are currently working on a project in Tulum, Mexico.

Where do you get your influences?

What have been your highest and lowest points?
The highest point was opening Hotel Americano in New York City in 2011. The lowest point has been taking forever to finish our Tulum project.

Who do you admire in business?
French entrepreneurs like [billionaire businessman] François Pinault and the perfumer Frederic Malle.

What do you do in your leisure time?
I travel, swim, ski, take naps and go jogging with my dogs.

Where are you happiest?
Spending time in the company of my two sons and my closest friends, sailing the Turkish Aegean sea.

What drives you?
My faith in God.

From Leisure Management Issue 1 2013, p38

Originally published in Leisure Handbook 2014 edition

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