From the top of the Gran Vía Capital hotel you can see the white roofs of the center of Madrid from a bird’s eye view. If someone had told the owners of the SmartRental company 15 years ago that they would be able to see their other properties from the rooftops of their hotels, they might not have believed it. And even less that they were going to be the businessmen with the most numbers of portals conquered on the most important street in the capital. But there they are.
They want to reign on the Gran Vía. Although they recognize that defining themselves as absolute monarchs of this street is something that they still have a long way to go, more and more of their hotels line the sidewalks of this Madrid street to keep the Collection Gran Vía Capital company (Gran Vía , 14). Also in his possession are the Collection Gran Vía Centric (Gran Vía, 42), Gran Vía 47 and his latest acquisition, the Akeah Hotel Gran Vía (at Calle de San Bernardo, 48). All owned. In addition, they have aparthotels in Puerta del Sol, Atocha, Chueca and La Latina. Now they are also making their way with colivings and hostels.
Staying in their hotels has an average price per night of 300 euros. In its apartments, which have capacity for between three and six people, the average cost per night is 200 euros. It all depends on the dates of the year and the amount of luxury that customers decide to choose. “There is no other group that has so many establishments on this artery. People know us by that seed that we have there. We are proud”, explains one of the founding partners, Fernando Rodríguez. In other cities, such as Barcelona, Valencia and Ibiza, they also have hotels. Now they are looking to expand to other countries in Europe such as Italy, France and Germany. “That’s the next big step,” says Rodríguez.
The company’s partners, Fernando Rodríguez and Francisco García, aim to continue buying buildings so that, once they have been rehabilitated, reconditioned and redecorated, they can increase their offer throughout the Iberian Peninsula. In total, they have 4,000 beds in Spain and they want to reach 10,000 in three years.
The SmartRental group has a staff of 400 employees to serve its guests. The company targets a young and traveling audience. Of course, in all their hotels they place a lot of emphasis on the technological and experimental part of the experience: from being able to do the check in digital to having hundreds of activities organized almost automatically in its common spaces so that its clients can meet other guests who speak their language.
The success of the company, according to its founders, lies in taking advantage of the inertia that each great paradigm shift brings. After the pandemic, they comment, the hospitality sector has been turned upside down. “Now people live longer, go out more and have more desire,” says Rodríguez.
Their market, therefore, they understand that it is in those people who respond to the figure of the digital nomad, a name that is not new, but that has been reinforced with the explosion of teleworking. The digital nomad is one who settles with a couple of suitcases wherever the body asks and who works remotely while enjoying the benefits of their temporary shelter. SmartRental has well identified the needs of this new client and that is why it has focused the offer of its beds on them. Basically, the idea is to offer them luxury buildings in central areas of the city with spaces for work, leisure and rest.
That is why, in addition to its hotels, apart-hotels and colivings to spend longer seasons now they are the jewel in the crown. “We were disruptive and it worked, now there are new companies that are very similar. We have very healthy competition”, assures its director.
It is not the only wave that they have climbed: “People have stopped going to clubs and restaurants that offer dinner and then music with shows have appeared. In addition, the rooftops have taken over the roofs and from the buildings on the Gran Vía one can enjoy privileged views”.
His bet, for now, is not going badly. According to company figures, in 2022 they had an operating result (ebitda) of 2.5 million euros after registering a turnover of 22 million euros. The director of the company anticipates that by the end of the 2023 financial year the ebitda will be 6 million euros, with a turnover of around 33 million.
Everything was born more than a decade ago with the idea of two partners who were looking to change the hospitality sector in Spain. Rodríguez, 41, is an engineer, and García, 43, is an economist. They met through mutual friends and they understood each other very well because they both wanted to undertake something very big. They started with a capital of 20,000 euros, a cleaner and four pieces of Ikea furniture in a tourist apartment to rent in Madrid. Rodríguez recalls that at the beginning they used the few savings they had and that they took care of everything themselves, from the check in from their first guests to making sure the towels and sheets were in perfect condition.
The expansion has been financed with bank debt and own resources. Today all the capital of the company is still in the hands of the founders, although they are now considering doing capital increase rounds because, they say, its growth has been very strong. The partners talk about their work over the years from their Osadía rooftop with a cocktail in hand and toast to being able to watch the sunset from the top of Madrid’s rooftops. At the moment, the top of his business.
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