Founder of Namron Hospitality
How did you end up in Mexico?
I first arrived in Mexico in 2002. It’s such an inspiring country with all its colour, tradition, artisanal heritage, history, and so much more, but it was not so popular amongst travellers back then.
However, I was entirely enamoured and moved to Mexico City. It was in 2005 that I bought an Art Deco home for my family in Roma Norte. I felt such a unique energy here, even though it wasn’t the chic neighbourhood that it is now. I lived there and worked until I decided to turn it into a boutique hotel.
What made you want to turn the property into a boutique hotel?
I've travelled all over the world and have stayed in many hotels, but I've always been conflicted with the monotony. Many high-end hotels have impressive check-in and common areas, yet their rooms are standard. I wanted to feel at home and have a different experience. And so I packed my suitcase, 'La Valise', which means 'suitcase' in French, and unpacked it at my house in Roma Norte.
I decided to skip the overall hotel pleasantries and focus on each room, making them enclaves of privacy and tranquillity where guests could really live for the duration of their stay. While we don't have a restaurant at La Valise Mexico City, we serve breakfast and offer a truly personalised, homely service that's different from standard hotels.
When we started in Mexico in 2014, it was the first small hotel, probably, in the world. We only had three rooms, and I believe we came up with some ideas that people had never seen.
Design and art play a significant role for you; how did you cultivate that interest?
Design and art are some things that traditionally guide French homes, and there is so much to explore in this area in Mexico. I was in awe of such profound artisanal art and design scenes and attention to handicrafts. I was inspired by artists like Pedro Friedeberg and the disruptive and traditional Mexican details to create a layered space.
For each La Valise property, I usually create the layout and formulate the overarching idea. Then, I collaborate with others for interior design and more. I typically don’t work with interior designers. But there are those with genuine taste who will put their heart and soul into a project, all to make the place feel like a home that people actually want to spend time inhabiting.
Your hotels are always local-centric. Why is this display of local culture important to you?
I believe in staying local anywhere I go. I love honouring Mexico’s culture and artisanal craft at all my properties because it’s so special, and this part of the world is now my home. My hotels are a love letter to this beautiful country that has adopted me entirely and wholeheartedly. And I want to offer that same experience to guests that visit La Valise.
Additionally, we have become more conscious in all aspects. I think it’s time for us to source locally for sustainability reasons, and I encourage guests to become meaningful explorers of local culture.
What are your favourite and least favourite aspects of working in this industry?
I love that the hospitality industry allows me to meet many creative and interesting people to collaborate with and dream up new projects in places I would have never imagined. I also love the research process, tapping into local and regional cultures. And, of course, I love the kindred spirits that come and stay with us because there’s always a story to tell. These stories are what I keep with me.
The industry, however, is tricky, too. There are many laws and permits. For example, it took us five years to open La Valise San Miguel, while other properties took several months. I also sometimes get frustrated when deadlines are not met.
How did you decide on the different locations for your hotels and restaurant?
I first started in Mexico City because I turned my own home into a hotel. I had then ventured out to San Miguel de Allende, a colonial city where I purchased a special Pedro Friedeberg intervened property. It was a true gem. However, this project took much longer than expected, and in the meanwhile, I found an opportunity to escape to the Caribbean coastline of Mexico. It was in Tulum that La Valise became a social media sensation, and thus we began expanding to all of our favourite corners of Mexico. You’re soon to meet us in new ones!
What feelings or sentiments do you hope to evoke when staying at one of your hotels?
I hope that every guest staying with us finds a place for contemplation where they can be themselves in every way possible. I want people to feel like they just unpacked treasures from their global travels and are revelling in them at home. But more than anything, I don't want my spaces to take guests 'away from it all'. I want them to be here and present, soaking in every passing moment.
Returning to sustainability, we understand it's an integral component of Namron Hospitality. Could you tell us more about the Tulum Pledge and why you initiated it?
The Tulum Pledge is an eco-conscious pact to respect the precious environment that we live in. Tulum, in particular, is privy to incredible nature, fauna and flora, yet tourists and the hospitality industry often abuse it. I want to create a precedent and union with neighbouring hotels that share a commitment to protecting this paradise! I encourage all guests to sign this pact as well.
Our hotels have eco-friendly provisions, we do not permit single-use plastics, and we source food locally from regenerative, organic farms.
People often talk about 'mindful travelling'. What does mindfulness in relation to travel and tourism mean to you?
Mindfulness should be part of everyday living, not just travel. We must consider how our actions affect our surroundings, environments, local community, and one another. It is essential to take care of the environment and try to act as sustainably as possible. Likewise, it is necessary to travel with an open mind, coming to places to learn more and be part of an existing community.
What are some of your favourite travel destinations? And what has been your most memorable travel experience thus far?
One of my most recent and favourite destinations has been the Mexican Pacific coast, from North to South. I absolutely love all the seaside towns, their laidback energy, and the authenticity. I also love the grandeur of the Pacific Ocean, too. In particular, I’ve spent some time in Puerto Escondido, Yelapa, and also in Baja California. I hope this experience will inspire some new projects as well. Stay tuned!