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 were all 100 per cent involved in the hotel operation.
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 – we have become 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 talented and committed creative minds, 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 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 is your long-term plan?
We would 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 from?
How important is it to be environmentally-friendly?
It is very important for us to build sustainable hotels with energy-saving rooms. We use recycled materials and work with local artisans. To stay simple is to stay eco-friendly.
What have been your highest and lowest points since launching Grupo Habita?
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 perfurmer 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.