F I N C A C O R T E S I N
R E N E Z I M M E R
Interview} Ken Waller
Photography} John Russo
Location} Finca Cortesin, a Preferred Hotel
KW: Can you give us a brief background on yourself and how you found your way to working at the property.
RZ: I was born in the former GDR, known to most simply as East Germany, and grew up near Dresden. Before attending the University of Halle, I first had to complete my mandatory military service, which in those days lasted 18 months.
Then world events took a course that would not only influence but shape the rest of his life. We were all hoping that things would change, but when the change came and the Wall went down, it happened so quickly that few of us were really ready for it.
After several months as a truck driver in the East German mandatory army service, I was suddenly faced with German reunification and the official disbanding of the Volksarmee. It meant that I started my service in one army and ended it in another, which was quite something to get your head around. I simply handed my old uniform in one night, went to bed, and put on a different uniform the next morning. I was with the West German Bundeswehr for the last month or so of my military service.
While still coming to terms with it all, I was suddenly struck by the opportunities presented with all this change. I decided that now I could, I would head into West Germany and try to pursue a career in the next best thing to acting – the hotel industry. And so he set off in an old Lada for Bavaria, where after a fair bit of rejection, I was given a chance to learn the trade at a Relais & Chateau Hotel run by someone who had escaped across the wall a generation earlier. I worked hard, but I learned everything, from how a kitchen works to logistics, maintenance, housekeeping, reception, and all the many parts that go into making a great hotel where people feel looked after.
From here followed a career path that would lead through Cliveden House and The Halkin Hotel near London’s Hyde Park to Salzburg, Belmond La Residencia in Mallorca, and the Grand Hotel Europe in St. Petersburg – both former Orient Express Hotels. It was there that I was headhunted by Finca Cortesin.
KW: Has your role been the same at the property, or have you worked in other roles at the company?
RZ: I am proud to be a caretaker of Finca Cortesin and have been at the property’s helm since its launch. After being called to raise the bar for renowned establishments at Finca Cortesin, I had tried to express my perfectionism and passion for guest service since 2009, ensuring that this serene, nature-filled land estate continues to entice high-end clients from across the globe.
KW: Can you tell us the brand philosophy of The Finca Cortesin Hotel?
RZ: Our main goals at Finca Cortesin have always been sophistication, exclusivity, and privacy, which is reflected in the architecture, design, and interiors of the resort – giving every area a big, bright, and spacious feel.
The key values of Finca Cortesin are to provide exceptional dining experiences, renowned service, peace and tranquillity, and the most important value for our guests: Privacy and discretion. These aspects will continue to be central to our luxury customer experience.
KW: What makes your property different from staying at other resorts in the region?
RZ: Built to the vision of Mr. Javier López Granados, CEO & President of Single Home, it is the product of a labor of love in which he wanted to create something very special. Everybody was chasing modern, contemporary or mock-Moorish styles at the time, yet Javier wanted to design a resort with the feel of a country estate where people could be close to the sea, golf, and all the other amenities of the Costa del Sol, but also find a peaceful refuge surrounded by nature on the edge of where the true Andalucía begins.
It was to be a place where people with busy, demanding lives could come and relax and be pampered with old-fashioned service and care, and so it is. With the vision of Javier, the architecture of Ignacio Sierra and Roger Torras, the landscaping of Gerald Huggan, an 18-hole champions course designed by Cabell Robinson, and the decoration of Duarte Pinto Coelho in the hotel and sisters Ana and Christina Calderón in the rooms something truly unique has been created. We work hard to offer the classic ambiance and service of a true grand European hotel.
KW: What about your property keeps guests returning for multiple stays?
RZ: Our acclaimed, intricate interior design combined with impeccable service, superb food, exceptional spa, world-class golf, and prime real estate makes our Finca Cortesin the epitome of refined yet relaxed Mediterranean living. We are proud to have created a destination that guests leave wishing they could stay forever, and it seems that it works, as we are thankful to have 46% of repeat guests returning every year to Finca Cortesin.
KW: I have stayed at the world’s top hotels, and I must say your property is by far the top of the top. The grounds are breathtaking from the staff, which is on their “A” game at all times, and the suites are simply magnificent. How have you maintained such a high level of consistent perfection in an ever-changing hotel market? Is there a secret to your success?
RZ: We work hard to offer classic ambiance and service that will ensure our guests’ stays continue to be a sophisticated, pampering, relaxing experience and keep our standards up to our guest’s expectations.
At the heart of everything we do at the resort is the emphasis that we put on experience. Whether on the golf course, in the spa, or at one of our restaurants, we ensure that every detail is taken into consideration to ensure that our discerning guests enjoy an experience like no other.
KW: Tell us about some of the unique curated experiences the property offers?
RZ: Finca Cortesin offers 23,000 sqm of manicured gardens, a luxurious Spa & Wellness center offering the very best in Thai treatments, four swimming pools, tennis and padel tennis courts, a spectacular 6,000 sqm Beach Club, exquisite dining options, all in a serene, elegant and refined setting; ARANĪ Yoga & Meditation Center launched back in May 2019; 18-holes World Championship Golf Course designed by Cabell B. Robinson will be proudly hosting next Solheim Cup 2023; Our Golf facilities also boasts a state-of-the-art Jack Nicklaus Golf Academy.
KW: Can you tell us about your dining options?
RZ: All of Finca Cortesin’s restaurants are a sensory delight. Our kitchen team is led by German Executive Chef Lutz Bösing, alongside an expert team of professionals, all imparting their creative flair to contemporary Spanish cuisine. Bösing’s culinary career stretches more than 30 years, 20 of which he spent refining and mastering Spanish gastronomy. Today, his main focus is to harmonize classic traditions with modern concepts in his ongoing search for the best products and “flavors of life.” We have three main restaurants to choose from: El Jardín de Lutz for authentic Spanish cuisine; our signature Restaurant REI offering Asian cuisine, Restaurant and Don Giovanni for award-winning Italian dishes.
We also offer three more casual eateries at the hotel for those who prefer a more laid-back ambiance. The Blue Bar serves tapas and cocktails in the patio lounge, spacious outdoor terrace, and Moroccan and Indian ‘chill-out’ lounges; while our 6,000m² Beach Club, just 1km from the hotel in the Bahía de Casares, offers delicious paellas, the best Mediterranean fare, and poolside drinks right on the beach. The Pool Restaurant offers an air kitchen concept with a daily market menu with the freshest product cooked in a Josper Basque Grill and a Monolith Kamado Grill, the best in Mediterranean cuisine in an exquisite atmosphere at lunchtime.
KW: Can you tell us about your new property in Mallorca? How will this differ from the Finca Cortesin?
RZ: Just a 15-minute drive from Palma, Mallorca, in the foothills of the UNESCO World Heritage Tramuntana Mountains, lies Son Net – a stylishly understated, art-filled hideaway on a private estate dating back to the 17th century. Famous for its history and palatial design, Son Net is nowadays co-owned and managed by our acclaimed Finca Cortesin team and is being lovingly restored and redecorated by the Spanish well-known interior designer Lorenzo Castillo to offer an exquisite and sophisticated retreat with classically elegant bedrooms and suites maintaining the mansion’s original features, such as rustic beams, stone floors, antique fireplaces, original 17th-century interior courtyard and spring-fed well, and a private chapel. The outdoors are breath-taking, featuring a 30-meter pool flanked by private shaded cabanas, surrounded by impeccably tended lawns and flower beds, giving way to the ecological vegetable garden and private vineyard.
Upon grand reopening next Spring 2023, Son Net will also boast an entirely new feature: a luxury Spa & Wellness center with enticing design features such as warm ochre-hued interiors, detailed tiling, and arched windows that offer a serene view over the mountain ranges. The Spa will boast various spaces – including five treatment rooms, an indoor pool, and relaxation areas. It will offer beauty lovers myriad facial and body treatments that promote relaxation, turn back the hands of time, or boost recovery after an active day out.
To find out more about this truly incredible resort, go to http://fincacortesin.com
or visit http://preferredhotels.com