Rafael Torres, “We have to take courage and be risky”
Country House grabs you from the entrance, the light, colors, peace and the entire splendor it represents. A place to get lost in its golf courses, polo, art school, a hotel, marina and of course the historic jewel Altos de Chavon.
Rafael Torres welcomes us into his office where harmony is breathed and makes you feel as you have been talking among friends. His life took an unexpected turn a few months ago when the Fanjul family proposed the Presidency of Country House Resort.
He has had an exciting career during 19 years in the Melia Chain where he has gone through different positions until reach the top. In his youth, he has not had time to spend many years in the country.
However, we can assure you that the steps taken in the Melia Paradisus Chain Punta Cana with over 2.000 employees and currently at Country House with about 5.000 employees gives him a foresight and knowledge of the country and its extraordinary people. He told us in first person their own experience.
A life dedicated to tourism, were you naturally inclined towards tourism?
It really was by chance. I need to work while studying for personal reasons. I did an internship in 1994 at the Melia Chain, they pushed for me and taught me everything I learned until getting where I am today.
What was your first international destination as a director?
The first one was Cuba, a fantastic experience, was a true master. Then we went to Sardinia (Italy) and then I was about to go to Bali but ultimately the choice was the Dominican Republic.
Does the family always follow you?
Yes, we are always together.
What was your first feeling when you arrived at the country?
I saw a country with great tourism potential and in constant growing. Every day I’m surprised more of the country growth potential, whose wealth used for taking advantages of people talent. We have to keep pushing to go on.
What is the trait you most emphasize the Dominican character?
The simplicity and especially the hospitality, it is amazing.
Do you believe in luck?
If you are proactive and look for lucky surely you will have it. I prefer to die with my boots on rather than dying of boredom. I am very active, make decisions every day and I like to innovate. If it is not like this, all would be too easy.
Comfort is not your thing ...
Not at all. We have to take courage and be risky.
What advice would you give to Europeans who come to the country with huge projects?
This country has a tremendous line of development but not only in tourism. Every day more investors come with large projects, it is a very safe country. I encourage all entrepreneurs to come, there is still much potential and long journey yet.
Is Latin American market booming?
Absolutely, Chile, Peru and Colombia are growing very much and Brazil also, although now is falling slightly. The Dominican Republic has an extremely strategic position to welcome all these countries.
What have been your first projects since coming to Country House?
Many ... first we are working on enhancement the first brand Country House, it has had a historical name very well positioned in the world but we have to improve the whole operation of Country House to reach even future international projects.
We are working with the Ministry of Culture to enhance Altos de Chavon so as to become the place in a “must-see” visit for tourists. We have an impressive amphitheater with 5.000 spaces where we organize concerts with top artists.
Referring to Golf, one of the largest business generators of Country House, we have been selected as the official venue for the Latin American Amateur Championship to be held in January 2016 along with the spreading worldwide. It will be awesome.
According to Real Estate, 50% of Country House is not developed yet. It is building a new direct entrance from the highway which will give us more visibility.
We are working on a project at the beach Minitas which has 400m linear. We will build the most luxurious Beach Club of the country. We are also working on creating an important room for events. In villages many weddings and parties are held and we would like to have a special space, super luxury, within the complex for such celebrations. These are projects that have already developed in the past that’s why this gives me a lot of visibility. And many more projects ...
Do you think to live in Spain again?
Who knows ... but it is not a priori not for now. My family and I are very happy here. I travel there about four times a year. Actually when the Fanjul family suggested to be part of this project, it was a great satisfaction for me and we are all very welcome.
After 19 years at the Melia chain, was the output hard emotionally?
Yes, it was hard, because it has been my home for many years and I have to thank infi nitely Gabriel Escarrer, all he has given me both personally and professionally. Nevertheless, when you look back you realize you’ve made the right decision at the right time.
What things keep you awake?: The future
A dream: See my little son graduate
A trip: to be made India
A book: Don Quixote
A song: My Princess (David Bisbal)
Film: The Silence of the Lambs
What do you hate most in human beings?: Hypocrisy
What do you value most?: Humility
Who do you admire?: My mother
What other profession would you have liked?: Pilot
A hobby: Football
A memory: The birth of my children
A moment: The day I asked my wife’s hand
A mania: Accuracy
A place in the world: Almería (Spain)
A place in DR: Two: Catalina Island and Altos de Chavon
Tags: Foreigners in RD