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TOP TEAM


The Entrepreneurs behind the projects


Each of the four entrepreneurs investing in Botanique Hotel & Spa have brought their own expertise to the develop- ment to create a modern, luxurious, yet socially responsible retreat that embraces Brazil’s indigenous nature. Ricardo Semler is one of Brazil’s best known businessmen and a pioneer in ‘industrial democracy’, which involves workers making decisions and sharing authority in the workplace. He is the CEO of Semco – a multi-billion dollar company that offers a broad range of products from air-conditioning compo- nents to inventory management and environmental planning – the latter of which he’s put to work at Botanique. Meanwhile his wife Fernanda Semler has also been the driving force in bring- ing the Botanique concept to market and brings a touch of class and luxury to the development from her years in the marketing and fashion sectors. David Cole is most well known as


the co-founder of internet company AOL (America Online), but he’s also rec- ognised for investment management, philanthropy, organic farming, renewa- ble energy and sustainability initia- tives. He has expert knowledge of the environment/great outdoors and luxury hospitality, as the owner of Twin Farms, a fi ve-star resort in Vermont, USA. Gordon Roddick, with his late wife Dame Anita Roddick, co-founded The Body Shop, a cosmetics company producing and retailing ethical beauty products and most famous for support- ing disadvantaged groups worldwide


DAVID COLE Cole says the spa is important as it heightens the whole sensory experience of the resort


Partner and co-owner, Botanique Hotel & Spa


How did your partnership with the Semlers come about? In 2006, Ricardo [Semler] and I worked on a large renewable fuels project in Brazil that ran head-on into the 2008 recession, putting thousands of employees and a huge investment at risk. Through it all, we focused on the tasks at hand and worked as best we could through the challenges. I found a good friend and business partner in the wreckage. A most welcome bonus!


How involved have you been in Botanique’s development? My role is as a friend, part- ner and critic. My resort work has been ex- clusively at the high-end, from a 20-bed bou- tique resort in Vermont to landscape-scale projects in Hawaii. This has enabled me to highlight key spa performance indicators such as the importance of repeat bookings (ideally before guests leave) and to suggest we pre-plan for obstacles in recruiting, teaching, motivating and retaining staff by fostering an environment of trust, sharing and continuous learning.


Another insight at the planning stage was to relocate the spa [previously located separately on-site] into the main building, providing the opportunity for multi-treat- ments, intensive water therapies and smarter energy and water use.


94 LEISURE HANDBOOK 2014


Why was Brazil, and this location, chosen? First, Brazil is where Ricardo and Fernan- da live. Second, as the economic and cultural fl ywheel for Latin America, Brazil is defi ning the premium end of the hospitality market for the continent. Third, in Brazil, Campos do Jordão is


a mere two hours from São Paulo, a city where a growing number of residents have the means and inclination to discover and savour new experiences. From my fi rst visit, I was intrigued by the inherent beauty of the place and kindness of the people. Like many, I’d been to the beaches near São Paulo, but I had no idea that a mountain oasis existed so close by too. I immediately joined the Botanique team.


How important is the spa to the business? Our guests spend much of their lives sub- jected to the rigours of urban living. Our pur- pose is to reinvigorate – and, for a select few, help them to imagine Botanique as an ongoing (and necessary) part of their lives. A well-executed spa experience awakens your senses to the other dimensions of the resort: the fl ora, fauna, food, people and culture to enhance the total journey.


What’s been the biggest challenge? Our project was mid-stream when the recession hit and we had too many [16] partners to effectively navigate our future course. I sug- gested we buy out most shareholders so we could streamline decision making. Ricardo, Fernanda and I made the offer, most of them sold, and we re-booted.


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