“Exactly 10 years ago, we welcomed our first guests at the Gat Rossio hotel in Lisbon,” explains Alexandra, the Manager. “Today, our team works in a hotel that maintains maximum occupancy levels,” adds the chain’s Sales, Marketing & Revenue Manager, Eva.
To mark this 10th anniversary, we have asked current and former team members at the Gat Rossio hotel and head offices to put their personal experiences and views into words.
Tell us a little story about the first decade at Gat Rossio
Bibiana, CEO and one of the founding partners of Gat Rooms, takes us back to ten years ago. “A Portuguese developer came to Barcelona to propose building a Gat hotel in Lisbon.” At the time, people said, “Lisbon? Are you crazy? It’s a sad, old city!” But they followed their intuition, ignored the negative remarks and plunged into a new project. “Gat Rossio is the result of the long and complicated refurbishment of an old Pombaline building in the Baixa neighbourhood, which was done with great excitement and enthusiasm.”
A decade later, the hotel has not only provided moments of joy and some great stories but is also breaking occupancy records –with a cumulative rate of 97% in 2018– and its prices continue to rise every year. “Luckily, we ignored everyone and came to Lisbon, which is a marvellous city that is continuously growing,” she concludes.
The hotel’s Manager, Alexandra, has plenty of happy stories to tell as she started working at Gat Rossio when the stairs up to the rooms had still not been finished. “I feel as though I have been part of everything that has happened at the hotel,” she says. She remembers how she signed her first contract “on a box of rubbish in the street when the hotel was being prepared for its opening” and when they welcomed the very first hotel guests.
Eva, Sales, Marketing & Revenue Manager at Gat Rooms, explains her first visit to the hotel two weeks before it opened: “The windows were open and magnificent sunlight flooded the hotel, which was still full of plastic, paper and sawdust. The city air brought in the smell of grilled sardines, along with the sound of the music being played at the local festas. I took a tour of the hotel, and still remember the creak of the new wooden staircase and how the staff greeted me with a smile. I have never lost that feeling of being right at home here.”
Elena, Housekeeping Manager, talks about situations she has experienced in her work guaranteeing our guests’ wellbeing, such as “running to the pharmacy because a baby is ill, comforting someone who has lost a loved one or creating romantic moments.”
Marília Felix, former Head of Reception, describes the day she entered the hotel lobby and found it full of water due to the flooding that the city was suffering. “The water came up to our knees. My fondest memory of that day is of the team’s support and how quickly we all rolled our sleeves up to get the hotel clean again.”
Ricardo, current Head of Reception, recalls his first few weeks at work: “A lady told a colleague and me that the manager had obviously chosen to employ us as we were “gatos” (Portuguese slang for handsome): my eyes are green and my colleague’s are blue.”
Edson, receptionist and night auditor, tells us how one day, he complimented a lady on her hat. After a lengthy conversation, the lady gave him the hat to take home for his daughter.
Joao Mariano, who is also a receptionist, says that any kind or friendly gesture from guests is “always the greatest reward.”
How would you define the Gat philosophy?
For Bibiana, Gat is all about honesty, which she says guarantees great value for money. “You sleep in a bed worthy of any 4-star hotel, yet you’re in a 3-star, at the heart of the city, with a spectacular breakfast service and charming, efficient staff at affordable prices. It’s also about the team that manages Gat Rooms, who are loyal followers of the Gat philosophy, and the Gat guests, who choose to stay with us for all the reasons I have just stated.”
For Alexandra, the philosophy is also about being more than a hotel: “It’s a family in which we have all grown together and guests go from being our clients to becoming part of our history.”
Eva thinks that the essence of the philosophy lies in the team, who are “people whose personality resembles that of a cat (“gat” means cat in Catalan, the language of the chain’s founders): they are very cosmopolitan and loyal to their work, inquisitive and always looking to improve, and friendly in nature, although they always persevere until they achieve what they’ve set out to do.” She also compares the nature and cleanliness of cats to the chain’s commitment to sustainability, the environment and healthy eating.
For Elena, it is the philosophy of success: “Going into combat with determination, living life with passion, losing with class and winning with courage. The world belongs to those who dare.”
Marília Felix describes the hotel as friendly and welcoming.
For Edson, relaxation is a priority at Gat Rossio, and an emphasis is put on cleanliness and calm, equality among staff and a young image.
According to Joao Mariano, it’s about being in the city centre, the friendliness of the staff and ensuring a smooth stay for guests.
Ricardo describes it as an extremely welcoming philosophy based on pillars such as an excellent location and accessibility in every sense of the word.
Long live Queen Gat!