In 2010 a reported 5.1 million tourists visited Brazil, ranking it in terms of international tourist arrivals as the third most popular destination in Latin America after Mexico and Argentina. Tourism in Brazil is increasingly important and key to the economy of several regions. The sector generated revenue of $5.9 billion last year, the highest in the nation’s history. With some of the world’s most beautiful beaches, rainforest, natural areas and favorable climate Brazil offers a combination of eco-tourism, leisure and recreation.
The potential of the tourism industry was recognized by Guilherme Paulo, founder of Brazil’s largest travel agency and tour operator, CVC. Designing and managing national packages and trips, CVC has become Latin America’s most successful travel company and is among the five largest of its type worldwide. Following his entrepreneurial spirit Paulo purchased his first hotel in 2005 and began GJP Hotéis e Resorts. At the time he was the president and sole shareholder of CVC.
Linked to the CVC tour operator, the success of the first hotel led to the purchase and development of more and by 2010 GJP had twelve hotels and resorts located around Brazil. In the same year, the US global asset management company, the Carlyle Group acquired a 63 percent share of CVC and administration of the operator shifted. “Guilherme Paulo maintained 37 percent of CVC and 100 percent of GJP, and although he still acts on the advisory board of CVC, the sale allowed him to focus on developing his hotels and resorts,” explains Director of GJP, Alberto Grau Neto.
The changes in management meant that Paulo could invest moretime, energy and resources into expanding the already successful GJP group. Previously linked directly to CVC, the hotels and resorts began to participate more independently in the market. Investments were directed at increasing the number of rooms and the leisure facilities at the resorts as well as improving the service at each location and reservation, and administration services.
“When we purchased the Iguassu Resort in Iguaçu Falls (Paraná state), the hotel had 90 rooms. It now has 200 newly refurbished suites, new restaurants including a sushi bar and completely new function and reception facilities as well as an 18-hole golf course” says Grau.
GJP is no stranger to transforming hotels into successful luxury resorts. The group operates a total of four hotels in the picturesque town of Gramado in Rio Grande do Sul state. “Gramado has arguably been our biggest focus of investment. The Serrano Resort, Serrano Gramado Hotel, Hotel Alpenhaus and Saint Andrews boutique hotel provide a total of 370 rooms between them making us the leader in the region,” Grau continues. The Saint Andrews boutique hotel was recently named one of the two best hotels in Brazil by the Quatro Rodas Guide, and is the first and only exclusive house hotel in the country. With just eleven rooms the hotel was an important investment for GJP, and has become a distinguishing point for the company.
Together the hotels in Gramado, which range from four to five stars, are testament to GJP’s growing success. “We have always invested constantly in growth and development, and our new focus has accelerated our steady business development,” Grau confirms.
With three more hotels currently being constructed and refurbished, GJP will have 15 locations by the end of 2012 with a total of 2,000 rooms and 1,500 staff. “Our average occupancy rate is 68 percent, which equates to annual revenue in the region of $50 million,” says Grau. GJP averages 20 percent annual growth, although Grau emphasizes that “exact figures depend on room availability and occupancy and can vary.”
To arrive at these figures GJP has grown gradually and carefully with attention to maximizing opportunity and providing the best service possible. In 2005 the company’s hotels totalled 150 bedrooms; in 2007 this number increased to 370 and today GJP offers 1350 suites to tourists. “We have grown in accordance with demand – 70 percent of our locations are in the mountainous or coastal regions of Brazil. Hotels in cities are a relatively new area for us, we have one in the south in Porto Alegre and two under construction in Salvador, Bahia and in Rio de Janeiro international Galeão airport,” Grau says.
Growing the numbers of the hotels has been the work of extensive research. “Proposals and opportunities are never lacking for us,” continues Grau. “We are always being offered plots for development, hotels for refurbishment or for administrating and management.” GJP analyze each project and decide together with their partners on an appropriate plan of action. The hotels either belong to GJP or are administered in partnership, and the company prides itself on the working relationships it successfully manages around Brazil.
The hotels and resorts are managed from the 300-square-meter offices in Porto Alegre. It is there that the administrative, sales and marketing, reservations, accounts, IT, human resources and development departments are also housed. GJP also has a sales office in São Paulo and the holding is in Santo André (São Paulo state).
INVESTING IN THE FUTURE
“Our most recent investment is the purchase of the Hotel Bahia in Salvador. The 60-year-old, traditional 300-room hotel is currently being refurbished to the highest possible standard. Due for completion in December 2011, it will be the second five-star hotel in the Bahian state capital,” Grau explains. The investment estimated to be in the region of $40 million is an ambitious step for the company and is proof that the small, yet dynamic GJP aims to be among the top five Brazilian hotel chains by 2015.
With a first class service offered at all of its hotels and resorts and extensive experience and understanding of the tourist industry, GJP is in good stead for a stable future. Tourism in Brazil is on the rise, unlike in Europe, and the company’s eye for the perfect location allows it to set its sights on great achievements. “Brazilians are travelling more than ever before, domestic air travel is more accessibly priced and package vacations make it easier for people to plan vacations. Online reservations through travel websites and online travel agencies all facilitate our sales by making life more affordable and simpler for the tourist,” Grau explains.
The future is also seeing an increase in the number of executive travellers for GJP. Traditionally more experienced in tourism, Grau mentions that “around 30 percent of room occupancy in Gramado can be attributed to the business guests who are in town for conventions and trade fairs.”
Greatly benefiting from the focus on development since 2010, GJP Hotéis and Resorts continues to grow and make its mark in the Brazilian tourism industry. With hotels that range from economical to five star and exclusive options, the company has quickly become a specialist in affordable and luxury rooms and hotel services alike. Constant investment in improving standards means that both GJP and its guests look forward to a comfortable future.