Claudia Alvarez Argüelles, the Argentine woman from the hotel industry

Who is the argentina that manages more hotels in the country

Claudia Alvarez Arguelles manages 12 hotels and invoices $ 360 million a year.

By Juan Manuel Compte and Pablo Ortega

Contadora Pública Nacional (National University of Mar del Plata), always had vocation for the business, he says. “I started as a game. From a very young age, I began to work in my free time at school. I was fascinated. So my parents had no choice but to leave me, “says Claudia Alvarez Arguelles, the woman who leads the hotel group who own four hotels, and manages eight others. In total among the 12 establishments invoice $ 360 million a year.

At 12, I was already answering the telephone at the reception. From there, every summer, he rotated through different areas. “It allowed me to continue learning, to incorporate the look from the operation. Knowing her well, “he says. I lived that life since childhood. Help, if you want to dedicate yourself to this profession. If not, you can hate it. ”

Once received, he dedicated himself full-time. Little by little, he encouraged himself to spread wings. He encouraged himself to fly away. He traveled to Cordoba. He managed the operation of gastronomic services that the group offered to several unions in that city. “It was more than 1000 meals a day, a very good volume. But, in addition to that experience itself, I found it an opportunity not to be within the structure of the hotel. To be able to go alone, “he reflects.

It was not the only nest he had ever left. She stopped living in Iruña when she married. And he arrived in Córdoba with a six-month-old baby: Matías, his only son, who, sitting to his left, listened attentively during the note.

The prodigal daughter returned after almost three years. They finished the ’80s. An idea of ​​his parents had already moved from head to toe. Mar del Plata, once called “the Biarritz of South America”, lacked a five-star hotel that would provide all services from its own building infrastructure. “It was a big dream they had,” he says.

Her father put her in charge of the project. “A magnificent experience,” she defines it. Manuel had summoned the best architects of Argentina. It was decided by Mario Roberto Álvarez. The chosen one suggested to discard the original idea: to construct the hotel in a land bordering Iruña and, also, to renovate that establishment. “He explained that what was asked of a five-star luxury could not be done with such an old structure. Although remodeling, we would not be able to have the product we craved, “recalls Claudia. “So, my father started looking for a location.”

One day, he says, he saw a plot at the end of Boulevard Peralta Ramos, in front of Playa Grande, which had always been empty. “And it had something very interesting: in the ’30, already had thought about making a hotel in that block. With that, we found the bases made. We found the location to be magnificent. US. To the tourist sector, no, “he smiles.

Nobody is a prophet in their own land. “It will be a failure.” “It’s very far from the center.” “Mar del Plata is not ready for a five-star, and less, a luxury.” Some of the many reviews I heard. But the regional comments were not the most daunting. “Construction began in 1989. It was a very tough time in Argentina. Very hard. Thinking about projects was a bit strange. But that was it, “he smiles again.

The planned 11,000 square meters resulted in 18,000. That, in addition to the two hyperinflations that forced to crush budgets, reformulated the financial equation, domesticated when US $ 1 was $ 1. In addition, there were technical restrictions. The excavation alone, for example, demanded a year and two months. “It was all rock. It had to be done with dynamite. And they had to be very controlled explosions because there was already built environment. We wanted to move faster. But we could not, “he explains.

It was inaugurated for the Pan American Games in Mar del Plata, organized in March 1995. On January 28, 1995, there was a pre-opening. The cutting of tapes had a high emotional load: Manuel had passed away in August of the previous year.

Far from the aforementioned prophecies, Costa Galana, with its 16 floors, today is a beacon of the city. For Álvarez Argüelles, too, it was a turning point. Matías Basanta Álvarez – as the name of his son – intervenes, for the first time, in the interview. “Until the opening of Costa Galana, 100 percent of the activity was management of hotels. From there, we expanded the portfolio to 12, incorporating asset management for other investors, “he says.

His mother explains why: “It is impossible to grow with speed and investment. But, when, in Argentina, there was never a credit offer designed for hotels. Not just to build. There are many hotels that need a strong reinvestment. This is like real estate. But with the difference that there is no quick return through the sale. ”

Thus, they incorporated the Riviera (of Mar del Plata), the Bel Air, The Comahue Business (Neuquén) and the missionaries Maitei and Urbano, both, in Posadas. Also, the three establishments of its most recent line of business: the “flaat”, condominiums with hotel services. They already manage three: the Del Polo (Cañitas), the Basavilbaso (Retiro) and the Recoleta Plaza (opposite the Vicente López square).

Among the projects, this year, it will inaugurate the 196-room HA Tower in Rosario. “We are looking at other contracts. Some, with the ‘o.k.’ verbal. And others, at the signature stage, “he suggests. Everyone, in the segment that sees with more potential: four stars superior. “It’s much more flexible,” he says. The five stars we love. But there must be a well-studied demand for that investment to be justified. ” Building a five-star cost US $ 200,000 per room, measured. A four, from US $ 100,000 to US $ 160,000. The difference is the burden of structure costs, an item that is then dragged into operating expenses. “Anyway, we recommend what suits the investor. In fact, there is a case now, in which we analyze between five and four stars, “he says.

“These openings should be in the next two years,” he adds. It will be three. None in Buenos Aires. “It is very offered. It was a very difficult destination to manage in the last few years, “he says, despite seeing flashes of recovery in that square:” There is again a flow of foreign tourism business reserves. As of April, the demand of Europeans reserving again appears again. Much more corporate demand. ”

The crosses of the next openings, for the time being, are marked in Santa Rosa, Salta and Punta del Este. It attracts the Uruguayan spa by the deseasonalisation that will win with its new convention center. Álvarez Argüelles, in addition, seduces the opportunity to make a first experience of hotel management abroad. “They came to look for us. For us, it’s a network jump. We will be very careful. ”

He does not want growth to overflow them. Let the expansion bring them out of focus: the quality of service. It is not pure slogan.

Note published in the 268 edition of the magazine Apertura.


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