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A Different Side of Spain: Rafael Pérez Navazo

Preiper Luxe

Rafael Pérez Navazo started PREIPER Luxe four years ago to shine a light on Spain’s luxury boutique hotels, then the pandemic struck. But, despite this unexpected hurdle, the relative newcomer is making quite an impression.

Rafael Pérez Navazo

Visitors have long been drawn to Spain’s stunning coastline, vibrant cities and dramatic mountain ranges. So much so that before the pandemic struck, it was the world’s second most popular holiday destination. But there is a side of this popular country that few have discovered, and that’s something that PREIPER Luxe Founder and CEO Rafael Pérez Navazo wants to fix.

“The feedback I was receiving from all the people that I was talking to was that they really didn’t know the country in its entirety,” he tells The CEO Magazine. “They were familiar with big cities like Madrid and Barcelona, which are wonderful, but there is so much more to Spain.”

Spurred on by these conversations, Rafael decided to launch PREIPER Luxe with the aim of opening up Spain’s undiscovered beauty and its unique hospitality products to the “right” travellers.

The luxury travel company launched in late 2017 and enjoyed two years of considerable success. But then COVID-19’s halt of the global travel industry came as an unexpected blow. “It was very difficult, but we prioritised investing in ourselves, in our vision to become the expert in luxury hospitality in Spain that we are at the moment,” he says.

A Competitive Edge

Rafael acknowledges the presence of other players in the space, but says what those big, international intermediaries offer their clients often falls short of the mark.

“It’s not quite what these products deserve because, at the end of the day, there is a lack of destination knowledge in many of these intermediaries. They don’t really know the destination well or know the history deeply like we do,” he insists. “That’s the space we’re trying to occupy, and that we are achieving. We’re very happy with our progress.”

PREIPER Luxe’s portfolio is mainly made up of hotels, but ones that deliver something quite different to the mainstream offering, according to Rafael. “They offer you something intangible,” he expands. “As soon as you enter the property, the walls are talking to you, are telling you a story. That’s the common point of all our products – they have their own soul and they can tell you a story that happened there perhaps 200, 300 or even 400 years ago.”

“We are trying to make things very, very easy for people to have all the information they need to create something very special.”

Delivering unique, quality experiences is the focus for PREIPER Luxe, not exponential growth. Rafael is determined to keep the portfolio “exclusive”.

“At the moment, we have 13 hotels and we plan to have a maximum of 30 hotels in the portfolio,” he reveals. By keeping its operations on a smaller scale, it can continue to deliver true results for its clients.

Although the company was born four years ago, it only launched its own representation firm brand last November – The Authentic Heritage Collection. It’s a label that puts Spain’s authentic tourist establishments on the map while connecting visitors to the nation’s rich history. “It was the right time to do it,” Rafael says, although he admitted that launching a new brand during the pandemic had been particularly challenging.

Spain Focused

Now, Rafael’s focus is on investing in his team, making sure he has people in place who understand his vision for the company. “I know where I want to take it and I know I cannot do it alone,” he shares. “I am lucky that I can say that we have excellent people who respect our clients, understand their needs and are creating something that is relevant to them.”

With the right people in place, he believes the company will continue along the right path, although as relative newcomers, it can be hard to gain visibility in such a crowded space. But PREIPER Luxe’s unique portfolio and specific Spanish expertise is helping it to stand out.

“The main difference we are bringing to the market is that we are only here to work for one destination,” he continues. “And in the global scenario, that’s a big difference.

“The main difference we are bringing to the market is that we are only here to work for one destination.”

“Now when we talk to big planners in the United States or anywhere, they easily perceive that we are a company to at least consider when they have business addressed to Spain. And in that sense, this product is working very well and we are very happy with the penetration we are having with the product and with the brand.”

Staying close to the audience is a top priority too, with PREIPER Luxe channelling lots of energy into social media and building up its own hashtag #doyoureallyknowspain. “We want people to ask themselves if they really know Spain,” Rafael says. “We want to be very close to the audience and very accessible.”

Next on the cards is a new experiential business that will work in conjunction with its collection of hotels and give the company an additional edge when working with planners from overseas. “They can be inspired not only about accommodation purposes but also about the rich culture,” Rafael says.

“We are trying to make things very, very easy for people to have all the information they need to create something very special.”

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