The hotel and catering industry is one of the main economic engines of the country and owes all its drive to the thousands of professionals who are committed every day to making it grow. More than 1.5 million employees are dedicated to this industry in Spain, of which more than half are female talent. This distinctive and differential fact positions the hospitality industry as one of the sectors from which many women are born from which to draw inspiration.
As a prelude to Women’s Day, HIP has made a review of women hoteliers who have become inspirational figures thanks to their dedication, work, passion and determination to revolutionise the hospitality industry through new models, business concepts and strategies that have become a benchmark for the entire sector.
Inspiration based on excellence
Pepa Muñoz’s enthusiastic, restless and self-taught personality has contributed to her projection in the hotel and catering industry, and her creations, oriented towards pleasure and health, have been awarded a Michelin star and a Sol from the Repsol Guide. Her restaurant, El Qüenco de Pepa, has been visited by celebrities such as Jill Biden and her dedication to social impact has led her to become the head of the NGO World Central Kitchen in Spain. She is also the first president of the Federación de Asociaciones de Cocineros y Reposteros de España (Facyre).
Eva Haussman’s informative mission is what defines the profile of the chef and culinary trends consultant, who has specialised in the development of gastronomic concepts and the SSF (Healthy – Sustainable – Happy) philosophy. With a commitment to the industry, Haussman has published seven books as a co-author or gastronomic stylist and has led lectures to guide entrepreneurs and hospitality professionals in their day-to-day challenges. She is the first Argentinean chef to win a Michelin star.
With Latin American origins, but currently based in Valencia, Carito Lourenço offers happiness from her different concepts Fierro, Doña Petrona or La Central de Postres, which in the latter case has won the award for Best Roscón Comunidad Valenciana 2022 in the innovation category. In the same way, with Tándem Gastronómico, he has undertaken a consultancy to guide small and large hospitality companies in their expansion process.
The leaders of the hotel and catering industry
Cristina Oria is inspiration par excellence. The chef and entrepreneur has been able to create a business from her passion, cooking. She currently has four restaurants, four gourmet and kitchenware shops in Spain, a catering company and a website that sends her products, both food and kitchen accessories, all over Europe. She has created her own food and accessories for the kitchen, the table and home decoration. She has also been recognised on many occasions for her career.
Her determination, capacity for innovation and transformational leadership are the reasons why Ángeles Orantes-Zurita, Managing Director of Industrias Cárnicas Zurita, is a benchmark in business management. Orantes-Zurita has promoted the adaptation of the brand to the times of the market, opening its business model to other channels, such as restaurants, through the establishments of La Cueva de 1900, of which she is the CEO.
Beatriz Alonso, Founder & Co-CEO of La Pecera, is an inspiration when it comes to promoting new business groups in the hospitality industry. The brand she co-founded has managed to differentiate itself from the rest of the existing offer in the ice cream market and already has more than ten establishments in different cities in Spain. Elvira Durand, who is at the head of the Le Coq Group, is following in the same footsteps and has been captaining the value proposition of providing “gourmet” grilled chicken for more than 7 years. Le Coq Group now has ten locations in the Madrid region and expects to continue its expansion in 2023.
An unparalleled example of leadership presided over by female talent is that of María Carceller, the current CEO of Rodilla Group. Carceller has spent more than 20 years managing different areas of international restaurant brands, such as Pepsico or McDonald’s, which have raised her as a motivating spirit with which to learn about business management skills and abilities.
María José Michavila, General Manager at Casual Brands Group, the company that operates Taco Bell in Spain, is also in charge of this management. Michavila is a symbol of female entrepreneurial orientation, with which she has achieved the development of large restaurant chains in the country such as KFC or La Tagliatella.
Cristina Serra’s focus on results, creativity, marketing and innovation skills is what has kept her in management positions throughout her extensive career, and what makes her an inspirational profile. Palladium Hotel Group and NH Group are some of the hotel companies that have benefited from Serra’s talent, and she currently provides her strategic vision at Radisson Hotel Group.
The hotel sector is also the one that has embraced Sara Sánchez’s philosophy. The CEO of Rusticae has managed to be a standard-bearer for digital transformation in the club of hotels and other accommodation she manages, contributing to the innovation and resilience of Rusticae’s business model so that it continues to be synonymous with sustainable, quality and technological tourism.
People are what make a hotel a five-star hotel. This mantra is clear to Paloma Arias-Perero, Director of People & Culture at the Four Seasons Hotel Madrid, a great expert in human relations in the hotel context and a motivating figure for all those dedicated to talent management. Multiculturalism, training and adapting to change are of great value in order to offer a quality service, and Arias-Perero has explored these issues as an advisory voice for leading companies of the stature of the Hotel Ritz in Madrid.
Benchmarks in new concepts
Sara Serantes is a case of inspiration for the construction of disruptive proposals. In 2012 she started Sushifresh, using the “dark kitchen” model, without the term hardly existing, and based on “delivery”. This milestone has led to the emergence of the Freshperts group with a wide culinary offer, ranging from Mexican food, poke bowls or plant-based, and a turnover that is growing steadily.
For her part, Minerva Tapial, advisor and CEO of Rosi La Loca World, has been the creator of one of the best-known “Eatertainment” success stories in the city of Madrid. Her commitment to the construction of a unique restaurant, with personality and focused on a comprehensive “customer experience” has led to her having thousands of followers, both physically and on social networks.
Another woman who has an establishment with thousands of followers on social networks, and who has participated in HIP 2023, is Rebeca Toribio. The value proposition of the SuperChulo Madrid restaurant, based on a self-described “Rainbow Food” format, has been a source of seduction for many and has led it to become a trend. However, behind this success lies an unknown story of self-improvement, which has become the springboard that has catapulted Toribio into the hospitality industry.
Daniela Goicoechea is on the same social media path. The current CEO and Co-Founder of Brandcrops, she spent more than six years as Chief Communications Officer at the well-known hamburger brand, Goiko. Goicoechea led the company to become a very viral “Love Brand” while maintaining a purpose, a credible story and a growth objective.
From this Monday until tomorrow, HIP 2023, the largest innovation summit in the Horeca sector being held at IFEMA Madrid, has had the inspiring vision of all these women, who have shared their learnings, successes and improvements throughout their careers. All of this, with the aim of authentically guiding the industry as a whole in its social, innovative, competitive and sustainable transformation.