Interview- Isabel Llorens & Carlota Mateos, co-founders of Rusticae and Pleneat
Carlota Mateos and Isabel Llorens have been a reference point for entrepreneurship in Spain for more than 20 years. Since its inception they have not stopped demonstrating their professionalism in the best way, through success. Rusticae, a consolidated company within the luxury tourism sector in Europe and Latin America, redefined the concept of boutique hotel, through its exquisite selection of charming hotels or in its own words "those little jewels, those personal projects, those wonderful people who support them, that dream come true that is every Rusticae establishment.
“ Pleneat", their new business adventure, seeks to revolutionize the catering market for companies and individuals.
Today, we are fortunate enough to be able to talk to them so that they can tell us their secrets for success
What motivated you to create Rusticae and what were the biggest difficulties you faced?
In those times, rural tourism accommodation began to emerge and multiply all over Spain without order or concert, so that the client who risked trying his luck with rural tourism was at risk of making the right choice, since it was never clearly defined whether the accomodation he was choosing was a rural house, a hostel, a shared rental house, a small charming hotel, etc. Faced with that mare magnum that brought users head first, we saw that there was a need to organize and differentiate those establishments as a private initiative since the public administration was not reacting.
We had the experience of having managed a small rural hotel with a lot of charm, and thanks to this we dared to set up a company that would organize and represent high-end Rural Tourism accommodations that bet on a concept that united the best of hotel tradition with the art of "receiving at home".
There was not yet among the public the habit of traveling to small hotels that in reconverted historical buildings, of an exquisite decoration, of a familiar treatment and that offered some services of hotels of four stars. Over time, habits have changed and the demand for this type of accommodation has grown profusely. We were at a time when the only alternatives in Spain to mass and conventional tourism were Paradores and Rusticae.
We had no institutional support except for a small and very grateful help of 500,000 pesetas from the Chamber of Commerce of Madrid. Rusticae was born within the rural tourism of the time that was very disorganized, ie, it accommodated all types of accommodation located in rural areas, without distinguishing between a rural hostel or a charming hotel with high levels of quality and service.
There was no reliable source of information to group the tourist offer segmented by levels of quality. The sector suffered from a quality mark that combined the best of rural tourism and gave them an identity and prestige that was recognizable nationally and internationally.
The regulation of the rural hotel industry at national level was totally heterogeneous and given that the competences in this matter are deferred to each autonomous community there was no homogeneous management of the rural tourism offer and therefore equal quality standards for all.
At that time there were only tourism stars, who value more measurable issues and infrastructure without delving into intangible issues or customer service. In short, quality standards were needed to serve as a guide and reference for this hotel group.
On the other hand, the hotels began to become aware of the need to associate in order to compete better, unity is strength. They were associated with small local groups that nevertheless could not offer them clear identity traits or prestige at a national level.
They needed a brand that represented them strongly and communicated the traits and values shared by all these hotels. A small and independent hotel has more difficulty to promote itself individually than under the protection of a club or quality brand.
In addition, there was a strong guild isolation since they are scattered and geographically isolated and this has always made it difficult for them to relate, exchange experiences and establish alliances among themselves. On the other hand, there was no support either for entrepreneurship or for women, and really everything went to lun
- How did it transform you as women and entrepreneurs?
The transformation is profound, but the most important thing is that if you believe in the idea, in the project and pour all your passion, you persevere and develop a little resilience you are always transformed. The potential of women has been important because our sensitivity and ability to move us with the beautiful things of our sector has made us an authentic company that takes care of its customers and all the small details.
- Let's talk now about your new company, Pleneat. We are living in an environmentally critical moment and we are wondering if Pleneat is your answer and personal action in favour of a more sustainable, responsible and conscious industry and consumer society. Tell us how the idea came about.
Our goal is to expand ECO food to a large number of people in the city and that this consumption promotes the production and transformation of ECO products in the countryside. In short, we are a triple-impact company (social and environmental) because:
- Bringing health to the city
- We help fix the rural population
- We produce cleanly for the planet
The idea arose from the need of the main promoter, Juan Vila Nota, for the countryside to give organic food to the city in order to fix the rural population, improve the environment and people's health. He opened an organic restaurant in Madrid (Azca) a few years ago: the restaurant Nest. The restaurant model served to initiate the project and learn: how the ecological menu was received by the population working in offices, ways of cooking with eco products, management of ecological suppliers ... and also served to realize that the traditional hospitality was not the model with which to grow. It contained too many variables that were not related to eco food in everyday life. A restaurant involves a strong investment in a single menu, the location.
The idea arose to create a central kitchen that would supply multiple corners within companies. A model that could give thousands of daily menus with an infinitely lower scheme of staff, investment and operating costs and whose social and environmental reach has no comparison. The project that emerges is PlenEat, a pioneering company and currently unique in the format of corners to companies as it offers home-cooked food, seasonal and 100% Ecological (or Bio) at competitive prices and with a very pleasant atmosphere. PlenEat also calls itself the "Campo-Ciudad" project because its main objective is to expand ECO 100% food to a large number of people in the city and that this consumption promotes the production and transformation of 100% ECO products in the countryside, thus boosting rural development and generating a virtuous circle.
To whom is it addressed and what are the services offered by Pleneat?
Our client is the company that wants to take care of its employees and have a healthy proposal and echo of food in their canteens. We offer to manage their canteens to give them breakfast and lunch, catering for their business meetings or special events and vending machines not only for companies but also for airports, gyms, hospitals, etc.
You define the project as 100% Eco. What does this eco-commitment consist of?
100% Eco, what does it mean for us? Our nutritionist, Maria Kindelan, designs recipes and weekly menus that are balanced, healthy and with a great nutritional design. We cook taking care of health beyond the ingredients:
- 100% certified eco products (except wild fish)
- No bisulfite, no heavy metals
- Seasonal Products
- Meat in its right measure
- Use of super foods (turmeric, chia.)
- No fried Not refined (sugars, flours, etc.)
- No saturated or hydrogenated fats
- No reuse of oils Microwave,
- Teflon and Aluminium Free
- Can you imagine an industrial fabric formed 100% by companies that bet in a clear and transparent way to develop their services and structure in a sustainable and committed way both socially and environmentally?
We believe that this is the trend and the only possibility of living in a more balanced and respectful world.
What values do you think are fundamental to transmit to young people to face a future, a priori complex, in the most humane way possible?
Honesty, transparency, social and environmental responsibility, perseverance and a balance between masculine and feminine.
We know that you are lovers of decoration, what do you think of Ekohunters?
It is a very interesting project, very much in line with the values of Rusticae and PlenEat. The decoration is fundamental in the hotels that are part of Rusticae and we think it is fundamental that besides contributing to beauty and comfort it is also respectful with the environment.
Thank you very much Carlota and Isabel for sharing and giving us the opportunity to bring our readers closer to your universe.