The Business Year

Miguel Afonso Dos Santos

MOZAMBIQUE - Tourism

The Daily Tourist

General Manager, Polana Serena Hotel

Bio

Miguel Afonso Dos Santos has a Bachelor’s degree in Tourism and Hotel Management, and later went to Cornell University to study a General Managers Program. He began working as a Assistant Food & Beverage Manager at the Hotel da Lapa before moving up to Manager of Food & Beverage from 1999 to 2004. He then moved to the Hotéis Real Portugal as Operations Manager until 2007 and later became the General Manager at the same hotel until 2012. He finally moved to the Polana Sernea Hotel as the General Manager in July 2012.

How has the hotel fared since the $25 million renovation in 2010? The main property was built in 1922, the Polana Mar wing was built in 1960, and the serviced […]

How has the hotel fared since the $25 million renovation in 2010?

The main property was built in 1922, the Polana Mar wing was built in 1960, and the serviced departments came later. The renovation concentrated on the refurbishment of all of the rooms in the main building and the creation of the Maisha Spa, which is a very important product to capture not only the leisure market, but also to provide added value to the corporate segment—both international and domestic. We also developed the Aquarius Bar, the Varanda Restaurant, the Fine Dining Delagoa Restaurant, and the Polana Bar.

How do you strike a balance between retaining the hotel’s antiquity and also providing modernity to travelers?

The renovations increased the quality, service, and comfort; however, there are people who feel that some changes took away a little of the old glamour. The point is that somebody needed to invest the $25 million, which was a huge investment. If you are a businessperson or you come to stay at the Polana for an extended period of time, you are able to feel all kinds of atmospheres and you see the different décors, meaning that your stay has a different feel. If you stay at the Polana, you can go to the Delagoa Restaurant and enjoy the décor and our fine dining cuisine, which is completely different from the Aquarius Bar, where you can order sushi and listen to jazz outdoors, or enjoy a quick meal in our All Day Dining Veranda Restaurant. From a refurbishment perspective, the objective was to improve not only the offer, but also to gain more space in order to provide added variety and options for the guest.

How are you targeting the leisure market?

We are developing concepts that have already begun to attract more families. We also want to create a kids’ club. We are creating an atmosphere that is more child-friendly and have already developed a Sunday brunch for families and a package to attract people who want to spend time in our Spa while the children are looked after elsewhere. We are working hard to get more of the leisure market, and we will see how the market reacts. The major challenge we face at times is the high price of plane tickets. This causes people to fly to other destinations rather than to Maputo, because it is very expensive to come to this city for a weekend break. We will be working closely with travel agents in specific towns in South Africa, such as Cape Town or Johannesburg.

How are you responding to Maputo’s developing tourism and MICE market?

First, the market will continue to grow because everything is happening in Mozambique and everything is running smoothly in terms of politics. There is a bright future for tourism, especially in the big cities, and there are considerable opportunities in terms of leisure. Mozambique is in the early stages of tourism development, so I think that a plan can be implemented to have tourism with a future. There are many trends that we can identify: people want to go to sustainable countries, experience new cultures, and want by-products that are environmentally friendly but also authentic. On our side, there is a desire to develop more units in Mozambique. We are looking at some properties, but for now we are only looking. We will see what the future brings. We would like to explore the bush and beach market so we can offer the secrets of the city, the country, and the beach. It is part of our mission to assist in developing sustainability in the country and the community.

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