If there is a key sign of identity in tourism in Spain that combines modernity and tradition, it is the Paradores nacionales. We can boast that in Spain a whole series of historic buildings, convents and even castles have been converted into first-class hotel centres. We are talking about the public hotel chain Paradores, and its president, Pedro Saura.
This year we have new challenges for tourism in terms of the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the energy crisis, how does it look for Paradores?
This is a different, more optimistic FITUR, and that's how we want to face the year. Last year already saw good results in terms of revenue and profits, and now what we want to say at FITUR to the world and to customers is that Paradores is going to face these changes in demand like no one else. We talk about health safety in the establishments, the importance of the environment, experiences and the destination, as important as the hospitality side. We also wanted to convey this message of facing up to change through our stand with the Paradores DNA.
What offers does Paradores make? Are we talking about value for money?
If we compare with other times, there was not so much importance in that quality-price ratio. Now the Parador is a destination in itself. There are many customers who actually want to go not so much to the destination but to the Parador itself. And it is important to tell them what the Parador represents in history and to offer them experiences such as gastronomy. I believe that Paradores has a long life, now in 2028 we will be 100 years old, and it will continue to be so because the future of tourism is already being fulfilled by Paradores.
National or international tourism?
Paradores can respond to both national and international demand. It is true that we want to encourage more foreigners to visit us, and these are the plans we have in the strategic plan. It is true that our Paradors are full on weekends, but there are many other days and seasons other than the summer when we have availability, rooms and staff to provide a service. Looking to the future, one of the levers we want to activate is the greater presence of foreigners in Paradors.
We at the Association of European Journalists hold our Defence Seminar at the Parador de Toledo, where the views and the service are magnificent.
Yes, in what is called MICE, business tourism in general, we also have to grow. Every day our team, which consists of 4,300 people spread throughout the country, wakes up with the idea of improving and doing better than the day before because we owe it to these clients and because they demand excellence. Improving also means getting to know our customers better and knowing what they demand. That is another strategic line we are working on.
There are many demands, such as the health issue that has been so important during these two years of pandemic, but there are also other realities, am I exaggerating if I say that wifi is now more important than the bed?
For many young people I would say that wifi is more important than the bed. Maybe people of our generation wouldn't understand that, but if we have problems with wifi in a parador, we have more problems with young people.
I think we have challenges ahead of us and we hope to face them as we responded to health security. During the pandemic, we developed protocols that the competition modestly followed, protocols to preserve health safety at that time: the clamps, the separations or the shifts to go to breakfast.
Then we also have the advantage that the Paradors are large, open spaces, and that also helps to improve sanitary conditions in Paradors. All of this worked and people recognised it during and after the pandemic.
Have new paradors been refurbished or have new ones been created?
We have inaugurated the 47th Parador on the Costa da Morte, in Galicia, a Parador that is worthwhile because it has the latest trends. We have also done a refurbishment in Lerma which is also worthwhile. There are three paradors that we are building with Turespaña and that will be put into operation between this year and next year. These are in Ibiza, in Veruela (Aragón) and in Molina de Aragón (Castilla La Mancha), and will make the number of paradors 100. We are delighted to increase the offer, but what we are very focused on now is to improve and respond to the demands in those 100 paradors.
We are also promoting the modernity and tradition that allows, as you said, young people to go to Paradores.
That is the idea. The stand we have here is an allegory of Paradores, it is earth and sky. From the earth come the buildings where history is built - part of the History of Spain has been built in Paradores - but at the same time we are looking at the sky, we are looking at the future, new demands, sustainability, new product packages, and this is what we want to tell the world with our stand, that we are past and future. Between earth and heaven is paradise.
Watching Game of Thrones, you could also film series in Paradores.
That is another angle of tourism, the cinematographic one. There are several paradors that have been used for films or series.
Finally, we want to say at FITUR that the company is still alive, that almost 100 years have passed, and that it makes more sense than ever to go to Paradores because the future goes with this company.