Interview with Mr. Joan Malé, owner and founder of the Hotel RiomarOn the opening of the new website of the Hotel Riomar, we had the idea to know what happened before, during and after the construction of this Hotel. Two families (Male - Gardella) were involved in this project with enthusiasm and force. For this reason, we proposed to Mr. Joan Malé, head and founder of the Hotel, to tell us about those small details that make strong any first idea, those adventures that took place in Sant Martí d' Empúries or the reason for the name "Riomar". All this and much more will be explained through this interview. 13-12-2015 | 21:29:08 | Autor: Mercè Malé GardellaSant Martí d'Empúries. Last Monday, 7th of December, beside the fireplace, comfortably installed, we had the opportunity to interview Mr. Joan Malé, owner and founder of l'Hotel Riomar. We transcript the interview below.
—Senyor Joan, can you tell us about the history of the beginnings of the Hotel Riomar?
—The beginnings of the Hotel Riomar date back to the 1960s. My family ran a small hostel-restaurant in Sant Martí d'Empúries, which had previously been a grocery store. My mother, Paquita Ros, was an excellent cook. People from all over Catalonia visited us with the wish of eating the baked cuttlefish and the Rice Casserole that my mother cooked with great pleasure. She was the soul of the little hostel-restaurant and she encouraged us to build the hotel.
—Tell us about the touristic boom that took place at the end of the Franco dictatorship.
—The construction of the Hotel Riomar began at the end of the sixties, on a land that had been devoted to rice harvesting, precisely when the Franco dictatorship was dying. It was a good moment to start touristic businesses because many foreigners arrived here to enjoy the sun and the beach at a good price. At the same time, there were not much hotels or hostels. In many villages of the Costa Brava, some families used to hire the rooms of their own houses to deal with the tourist boom. Times were changing. We passed from a society where all was a sin or forbidden to breathe the air of freedom in a short period of time.
—Was it easy to start a business like that?
—The beginnings were very hard and complicated. There was little money but we had enough commitment and enthusiasm to start a project that would change our life. We had to rely on banks, relatives and friends to finance the hotel project and to cope with the expenses. Almost all of our profits, at the end of the season, were invested in expanding our facilities and improving our services.
—The hotel Riomar was build in different years. Can you tell us about these different periods?
—The construction of the Hotel started in 1969. Year after year, we used to add more rooms, more services and it was not until the beginning of the eighties, when we opened the Annex Solivent building and the Bar-Terrassa. The pool and an apartment block (named "Els vents") were inaugurated at the nineties. Don't forget the leafy garden, one of the strong points of the Hotel Riomar. It has grown all over the years and during the summer shows all its splendor.
—Services that were not in the village were included in the planning of the Hotel Riomar?
—We always wanted to give personalized service to our clients, away from the crowds. Sant Martí d'Empúries is a place where you won't find discos, or busy roads and at night you can rest and sleep. Many customers come again because they receive a friendly service and because they find peace and quiet. We are specialized in family tourism because children have space to run and play. We also accept pets, without any additional cost.
—Geographically, how do you see the situation of the Hotel, and how did you find the name of "Riomar"?
—We are in the area of El Riuet, an ideal beach for practising windsurfing and kitesurfing, very close to the village of Sant Martí d'Empúries. This place has always been characterized by the tranquility and beauty of the landscape. The fact that we are between a beach and a river, the Vell river, gave me the idea of choosing the name of Riomar.
—Could you explain any story before or after the 92 Olympics?
—At the beginning of the 90s, we had the idea of organizing a barbecue with "sangria" and dancing, at the bar-terrace of the hotel. The idea was so great and successful that we continue on doing it, every Tuesday, in July and August. In the off-season, especially during the month of September, we do a giant outdoor paella. We know for certain that customers love eating a good dish of paella in the shade of the leafy mulberry trees, on the terrace.
—Mr Joan, what was the secret that has captivated your guests? What has allowed you to retain the loyalty of your customers?
—We can say that the construction of the Hotel Riomar would not have been possible without the confidence of all those clients that spent their holidays in this beautiful part of the Costa Brava. Before, children, teenagers and old people used to enjoy the pool and the beach. Nowadays, they are more interested in electronic gadgets, computers or mobile phones and, therefore, we offer Wi-Fi zones in some spaces to take advantage of these new technologies.
And thus ends the interview to Mr. Joan Malé, who invites us to visit the Hotel Riomar, to know and enjoy its more than 1,500 square meters of extension. You will not regret!