Text: Breakfast with Ulisses Marreiros, Reid’s Palace Hotel, Madeira
Picture Ulisses Marreiros, Reid's Palace general manager
General Manager Reid’s Palace Hotel, MadeiraReid’s Palace on the European island of Madeira lies off the western shores of Africa, north of the Canary Islands, south of the Azores. In the morning we enjoy the stroll through the most scenic of gardens, overlooking nothing but the deep blue Atlantic Ocean, which at 24°C now in September tempts us to bathe. If hunger does not draw us to the table of Lucullus, we would sit here for hours. It’s only you, your armchair, the palm trees and the Atlantic Ocean, if you wish.
Ulisses Marreiros, General Manager of the Reid’s Palace Hotel, Madeira.
Q. Do you have a motto in life?
Be happy, enjoying what I am doing and have fun. Can always be better would be my motto.
Q. What do you want to have accomplished in the next ten years?
Marreiros: Keep working in the industry that I love and be able to create value to all, and for all that I am working with.
Q. And your preferred breakfast?
Marreiros: Just a simple ham and cheese sandwich, in a home made bread, with a fresh orange juice and some fresh fruits. However: the best one is some shellfish and ‘Vinho Verde’ with friends at Sunrise in one of the little islands by the Ria Formosa, near to Faro. Amazing!
11 Quick Questions
1. You are still ‘putting on the “Reid’s”’. Is your dress code as strict as it was?
Marreiros: 80 years ago you could not dine in the presence of kings and lords without black tie. Today somebody in an elegant shirt and long trousers can look very elegant. Times have changed, so has Reid’s. But our guests still like to occasionally dress up when we request it and in our main dining room we still keep black tie or at least jacket and tie as a compulsory dress. Do not worry as we do have at the concierge 59 ties and 25 jackets, besides the white shirts!
2. You are celebrating 120 years with all sorts of events. Your history has been recorded in a famoushotels book:
Reid's Palace by Andreas Augustin is available here.
Marreiros: The work of famoushotels was fantastic. We now have a host of
information, which can be shared. We use the information for small talk
with our guests. And it is a great tool of sales and marketing, left
alone that it sells like hot cake.
3. Your employees show a great deal of responsibility?
Marreiros: Most of them are from Madeira. They live here and have their families here. Reid’s is their professional life and, on the other hand, their private life is full of responsibilities. Here family fathers and mothers are serving families. Grown up men and women are working for ladies and gentlemen. They are not inexperienced ‘seasonseers’, who might or might not show up at work tomorrow. Our executive housekeeper used to own a Relais&Chateaux hotel. So everybody has a very good sense of ownership and responsibility to please the guest. That is the difference. The hotel is a legend, but the team makes it an institution. We do not sit on our laurels of the past. We keep pushing, maintaining the building and training the staff.
4. You are using resources like water and electricity like an aircraft carrier. Where is your environmental concern?
Marreiros: Our environmental concern is on all the actions we take on the back stage, using the debris of the garden to do compost, making good use of the energy and water, recycling and soon giving the option to the guest also, if he wants to participate in that effort. I believe that service is giving you the choice and this was what some of our guests were asking, so we will give them that choice. We also use a lot of organic products and we played an important role just a couple of years ago, with a good incentive to buy more from locally produced organic products.
5. Is your Spa a success?
Marreiros: It can always be better! But I have to say that besides it spectacular location, it has a good team and use of excellent products. We have developed a regional treatment using Aloe Vera, produced by a local company and we are the only spa in Portugal with La Prairie products.
6. Reid’s is a four seasons destination?
Marreiros: That wasn’t always the case. Historically, during the summer season the occupancy went down. Now August is the best month. In the past we had to advertise that we are also open in summer! Now summer exceeds the winter business. However, the period around New Year is still fantastic and definitely our peak season.
7. Average room rate at Reid’s Palace?
Marreiros: €uro 335.00
8. Average length of stay a Reid’s Palace?
Marreiros: 6.8 days
9. Your current bestselling packages?
Marreiros: Great affordables
10. How big is the impact of guests from Russia?
Marreiros: When we have a direct flight from Moscow during the season the arrival rate is high. Our guests from Russia are extremely pleasant and in the end of the year account for 6% of our total number of guests.
11. What were you most amazed about?
Marreiros: A group from the USA, from national Geographic, left the hotel after dinner. I was thinking that they would go for a Poncha (traditional drink) downtown, but they went up to Pico do Areeiro, the peak of the highest mountain at 1800 meters, to listen to the birds at midnight. They were flabbergasted!
THE QUICK ONES:
Fish or meat? Fish
Red, White, Rose wine? Wine
Indoor / Outdoor? Outdoor
Bungee jump or parachute? Both
Day- or nightdreaming? Day
Reading or watching? Watching
Tea or Coffee? Wine
Your special talent? Still discovering it! But definitely love to work in the hotel business
Whose answers are you looking forward to getting back?
From a decision maker for a group in May 2012!
It is the summary of brownie points that make a great hotel. This list is not complete, by all means, but it highlights some essentials from the world of a resort, which ticks definitely differently than a city hotel:
1. Front office: from porter to reception most competent, efficient and with a smile.
2. All house spotless clean. Abundance of dashing flower arrangements.
3. Beds huge and comfortable – courtesy to special Orient Express mattresses. Large supplies of exquisite shampoos, body cream and the likes.
4. Gardens generous, grounds vast. You never feel disturbed by another guest.
5. Pools immaculate, 26°C (28ºC in the winter) salt water, 28°C (30ºC in the winter) sweet water and one at the level of the Atlantic Ocean with fresh seawater.
6. Sunbeds plenty, not claustrophobic, comfortable and with head cushions. Plenty of cosy towels (2.40 m length blue, and 1.70 m white ones to dry ourselves). Lifeguards on duty.
7. Six F&B outlets. Food ranges from the complete encyclopaedia of a breakfast buffet to the Mediterranean lunch market buffet, renowned afternoon highteas on the terrace, dinners at Villa Cipriani (casual), Le Faunes in winters and Brisa do Mar in summers (Smart casual), Dining Room (formal).
8. Test of generations passed: the longest returning guest just arrived; Rose from the UK keeps coming back since 1931. The longest staying guest in-house is here since ten years. The number of couples spending their honeymoon is rising. Fun@Reid’s is dedicated to the youngest generation, from Kid’s menus (restaurant opens at 6 o’clock for a kid’s serving, kids taken care of by staff), playground with their own house and pool (and a nanny) to Playstation, Nintendo, Wii and iMacs in a special suite.
Macs at Fun@Reid's
Reid’s Palace Hotel is owned by Orient Express Hotels & Trains
out of this 35 suites
Staff/room ratio 1,35 staff per room
Theme suites: Winston Churchill, George Bernhard Shaw
Most famous Guests: List too long to be displayed here, consult the link on the left to Reid's Palace Hotel.
Mix from different nationalities accounting less than 6% each one
Reid’s Palace Hotel is A Select Member of The Most Famous Hotels in the World® since 1986.
Reid’s Palace Hotel is a member of The Leading Hotels of The World
Awards & Rankings:
TripAdvisor ranking #1 of 97 hotels in Funchal
Conde Nast Traveller: one of the TOP 25 resort hotels in Europe.
Best seafront – all year round open – resort in the world.
F&B Reviews (from www-sources)
“Afternoon Tea is something not to be missed and the breakfasts are just amazing.” ...
“I had the afternoon tea on my own - which I thoroughly enjoyed with piano playing, fabulous views, gorgeous sandwiches (no crusts) with prawn, avocado, egg etc., then good scones, cream and jam then lovely homemade cakes (x 5).” ...
“Reid's is light and welcoming too, largely thanks to it's elegant terrace where guests included Sir Winston Churchill and Margaret Thatcher that once enjoyed traditional British afternoon tea with a breath-taking views of the sea.” ...
“We ate in all the restaurants, as well as having afternoon tea and the food was always beautifully presented.”
“We had afternoon tea which was lovely, and were also very impressed with the lunchtime buffet served in the restaurant next to the pool.” ...
“Afternoon tea is a must!” ...
“Although we enjoyed eating out most nights we did try the afternoon tea which is a definite must if in the area.” ...
Ulisses Marreiros - GM
Carlos Soares - FC
Ciriaco Campus - DOSM
Marcelino Rodrigues - F&B
Rosalina Batista Veltmann - HR
Paulo Coelho - Maintenance
Patricia Arriagada - HSK
Luis Pestana - Chef
Alcino Cunha - FOM
Isabel de Portugal - Guest Relations
Patricia Gomes - Exec. Secretary
Ulisses Marreiros at a glance:
Born: 21 February 1974
Married, two children (2011)
TO THE BOOK
Reid's Palace, the book, by Andreas Augustin