✅ Marc Rahola, CEO and Founder of OD Group. A holding company of companies comprising the OD Hotels and Ryans Hotels&Apts divisions. (Hotels), The White Angel (Real Estate), Ocean Almond (Agriculture), and Ocean Group Capital (private equity funds).
A professional from head to toe. Entrepreneurial, charismatic, talented, and all-rounder.
▷ Why Hidden Icon?
Marc Rahola fits the profile of Hidden Icon perfectly. He is a tireless worker, with enthusiasm, a nonconformist who loves his work, knows how to adapt, and bets on what he believes in.
He worked in the family business Palladium Group, from a young age he started to know and to train in the profession, starting as a receptionist. And he always had a dream: to create his own company.
He wanted to do the big jump and do what he considers vital: get out of the comfort zone. So he took a step forward and bet on his dream. He bought and rehabilitated in Ibiza, his first hotel, the “Ocean Drive” in Marina de Botafoch. He was followed by OD Portals in Mallorca, OD Talamanca, OD Can Jaume in Ibiza, OD Barcelona… This was followed by other companies within the OD Group. OD Real estate, its big entrance in the real estate sector, and Ocean Almond – an almond growing company in Lleida -, show the versatility and wide business vision that Rahola has.
▷ In a Snapshot
The differential value of OD Group is the opening of its hotels in strategic locations that have been part of the history of the place and they open during the twelve months of the year with an agenda of events for the local client of the city and/or tourist.
They are true luxury hotels, far from the concept that has been given in recent years to luxury in hotels, pomposity, overload. Their luxury is the location in privileged spots where space and light are the protagonists.
We’re lucky enough to have a few minutes of conversation with Marc Rahola. He tells us about his work at OD Hotels during the confinement, his recommendations of “hidden” places to enjoy the island of Ibiza, as well as the new initiative together with Concept Hotel Group that our Hidden Icon, Diego Calvo, recently told us about, the Ibiza On/Offspring Calendar Festival, a project that aims to extend and deseasonalize the visits to the Pitiusa island.
1.- CREATIVITY. What have you done to keep it active during this confinement? Have new ideas come up, new projects?
Yes, in fact, we are working on new projects. We working on a new “Ocean Drive” that we will open in Madrid next year, and we are also working on a project in London, and pre-defining the concepts obviously for this season. Therefore, we are working harder than ever. Creativity, to the fullest.
2.- YOUR BASICS. Playlist, book or films that go with you
My playlist is formed by the nineties bands, from Garbage, Nirvana, Pixies, those are my bands, my musical childhood.
Book, I’m reading right now “Why countries fail”, I see it as dramatic but in a positive way I can know why… (laughs)
During this confinement I have seen a series that I have loved, “Peaky Blinders”, if it is not one of my favorites, I dare say it is among my three favorites.
3.- OD HOTELS. Strategically located hotels, you rebuild and bring back to life buildings with their own history. Why did you bet from the beginning on that value of renovating old buildings?
Because I’m one of those who believe that there was a history, an interest before we wanted to make a hotel, and, in those kinds of locations (obviously we looked for them on purpose), usually they are areas that at the time, were the center of the city.
For example in Miami, it is a building from 1926, which at that time, was like buying a cathedral in Barcelona… We are rebuilding it and it has a real value, and strategic value, it is in the middle of downtown.
In London, we have taken an abandoned building, which is in Camden Market, once again, a place that is being revitalized. Camden used to be the old royal stables, and now it is one of the most emblematic markets and a must-see in London. It was a building that was closed, that belonged to the police, where they kept the police cars. Imagine the history that it has… It is in those processes that we understand that there is an interest in the city, an interest in being able to build a history, and an interest that is real, not that it has an artificial concept.
4. – OD. It is one of the Spanish hotel groups that has been able to adapt to the market and give another concept and style to the hotels. You make your own stay in the hotel an experience for the client who is staying as well as for the local public who is visiting you. Your famous brunch, Burger meets gin, Hola Sundays… Why did you focus on creating events that can involve both tourist and local clients?
This was born in 2006 when we opened the first “Ocean Drive’ in Ibiza. The idea I had was that to do something with talent, we needed to have talent. And there is nothing more important to retain talent than paying for twelve months. So I decided to open a year-round hotel in Ibiza. From that bet obviously to give it a content I started to work with all the local processes both summer and winter and from there, I opened the doors of the hotels, because nowadays, hotels are so exclusive, and above all, that wave of exclusive hotels that there has been in recent times, and that hotel was a one that wanted to be inclusive.
From the first day, that the hotel was a space, totally open to people, where it converges, let’s say the ” local “, the neighborhood, with the ” global “, the customers that we have and this confluence generates a value.
From there, obviously improving the events and ideas, as we were shaping our vision and commitment to hospitality and that has been moving to all the hotels we have opened
5.- MEDITERRANEAN. What do your hotels in Ibiza, Mallorca, and Barcelona have in common and how do they differ?
The hotel in Barcelona, Ibiza or Mallorca are hotels that I try to achieve a very minimalist design, quite simple, in the sense that they are always very classic pieces. I am very inspired by the Bauhaus process or by the minimalist design of people like Mies Van der Rohe or Le Corbusier, etc… that make me work with natural materials, such as wood, as they are a series of fundamental elements, but they have that point of timeless in the sense that it is contemporary, but it is not a thing of a WOW effect of today and that passes tomorrow, and at the same time converging with the typical materials of each of the regions.
To give you an example, in Ibiza, we have worked with the typical stone from Ibiza to build the walls and all the elements that are typical of the construction of the island, or in the case of Majorca, we have done it with a typical type of brick of one of the most important vaults of Majorca and not only this, All the bathrooms have been made with pieces made in Mallorca to really generate a confluence of temporary, minimalist elements from northern Europe with Mediterranean elements that all come together in a very austere way because, for me, luxury really is space and light.
All that is what people are looking for, light, space, and elements that really enhance that, is design.
6.- COVID. How are you facing the post phase and the opening of your hotels? Have you offered something different or have you scheduled new events, any news you can tell us about?
We are working so as not to have to give up many of the concepts that we normally do, understanding that, there is the COVID, and that obviously concentrations must be avoided a lot, so we must have table distances, we must really provide all the elements that the Government has advocated and we are implementing them.
But we still understand the hotel as I have said, we will not stop making exhibitions, music in our lobbies, and attending both gastronomic and musical events in our facilities, so that in no case go against any measure and is always, completely well provided for the health process to which we are now obliged.
Obviously, there are many aspects that we will have to improve and work on, but for the moment with a lot of enthusiasm and a lot of desire because in the end I am a hotelier, and what I want is to open hotels, not to keep them closed.
7.– IBIZA ON/OFFSPRING CALENDAR FESTIVAL. A project that, together with Concept Hotel Group (as our Hidden Icon, Diego Calvo, told us), you have launched and that so far has been joined by 50 companies from Ibiza. How do you think it will provide visibility and how will the public respond, coming to the island beyond the summer season and after the closing of the clubs? What are the challenges and opportunities that you see?
Well, I’m very interested in the fact that the local is what defines us, and the global is where we are competing. And to work the local, you don’t define it, you define it with your competitors.
Each one with its own angle transmits a different content and texture, and in the end, visitors are shared. A client comes to your hotel or goes to someone else’s, but in the end, he goes to a restaurant, goes to a cafeteria, to a gastronomic activity that can be developed in a festival, goes to a sports event, etc..
In these moments of anxiety (let’s say) there has really been capacity and empathy with the different companies, to understand this process, but one thing is to understand it and have very good ideas and another is to translate it into reality.
What the Ibiza On/Offspring Calendar aims to do is to make that tangible gesture, of course, we are going to extend the season, but how do we do it, how do we transmit it, and why do we say that this can be done?
That calendar, those activities, are what we are working on, filtering, my marketing department along with the Concept Hotel Group, and thanks to them, we are having great support because it really is an incredible initiative for the island without profit, and really encourage that there are texture and a local effect as you can have anywhere in the world. Well, Ibiza is the same. Therefore we have been working on it with all our enthusiasm, with all our desire.
And we are really amazed, and pleasantly surprised every day of the people who join and with the excitement that they do.
Follow the activity of the Festival in our agenda
8.- PUBLIC. By lengthening those summer months and reviving the city out of season, perhaps it will be positive and bring a new audience to the island?
We are living in a situation where the lights of the world have been turned off, and they are being turned on again, and when they are turned on, let’s hope that it will be as soon as possible.
And the issue is, in the end, why I choose you and not another, why I pay this and how I value you, really is to put back on the table, the values that define us, that is fundamental, so when you are able to put that clear, you can extend the season, you can do it and this movement generates a resilience that is born to stay: not only to say extend the season now but to generate new content both in spring, as in autumn each year.
That’s why it’s called Ibiza Festival Calendar On/Offspring, so in the end, you have to use this situation of promoting and generating, and therefore it’s very open and obviously filtered, in the sense that it can’t be done with just one player, but there have to be all the possible textures to really generate a wealth of content.
9.- PROJECTS. With confinement, are your next openings frozen, how are they going to happen?
The projects continue, we continue with great enthusiasm. The openings are following their schedule and for the moment OD Saint Tropez will open its doors to the public in June 2021, OD Madrid in September 2021, OD Miami in June 2022 and OD London at the end of the year 2022.
10.- HIDDEN ICON. This initiative aims to put a face to the entrepreneurs behind the islands’ businesses. People with successful or emerging talent who have a dream and bet on it. You came out of the big family business and managed to raise your project… and see it grow. What would you recommend to people who have a dream and are afraid of it, to take the initiative and start it up?
Fear is great, but it’s also fucked up, to put it clear…(laughs)
It’s fabulous because it makes you feel alive again, it makes you question yourself, it takes you out of your comfort zone, and it makes you want to move forward and become passionate and engaged with life again. But you have the bad part which is that if fear paralyzes you then you stay where you are.
That is, in the end, everyone is afraid, both those who do and those who do not. The issue is how you interpret it.
So for me, it serves to ask myself if I know how to do something if I can really develop something on my own, and make progress of my own, and when I’m doing it, my question is always and constantly if I can improve in some aspect, or if I can do something else …
My proposal with myself is to get out of my comfort zone, but on the other hand, my wife is not so happy with these processes that I do (laughs).
That is what makes me continue to be passionate, and although it sounds sentimental, to feel butterflies in my stomach again, to feel that one has things to do and to develop. That’s why I started to do my own project, I really wanted to see where I could go on my own, that’s the truth.
11. OD RECOMMENDATION. We know that choosing is always difficult, but what do you recommend our readers to do when they visit an OD Hotel?
I would recommend, enjoy the city or space where you are that really is what you came for.
We, OD Hotels, are ambassadors of knowing how to recommend what they can do, what they should visit… But when you want to be relaxing in the hotel, one of our events, like the Hola Sundays, is a fabulous event, it’s like a vinyl market, with a masterclass for the youngest DJ’s, to teach again how to play with vinyl and not only the electronic part, these are things that I love because they move the city, like Barcelona, or Palma, or Ibiza, local people who go to see it, experience it, and it’s amazing how they converge with the customers, and how they enjoy it and how they talk about it.
And as a great foodie, like an OD burger, there is nothing, I recommend everybody to try it.
✨ Hidden Tips
Marc Rahola Matutes knows the island of Ibiza perfectly and tells us his recommendations to enjoy the Pitiusa island: his hidden places and hidden gems.
Where to go: Cala Conta (Cala Comte), Ibiza.
It is a place that makes me fall in love. In fact, we are doing a luxury real estate development with OD Real Estate, because the light there, the sunset you can see, I have not seen it anywhere else in the world. And I’ve traveled a lot in my life…
It’s an area I love to go to, almost more in the winter than in the summer.
What to do: Eat at El Chiringo in Cala Pada.
I’m not much of a crowd or big places, I like that place because it hasn’t become a massive place yet, and I love to go and enjoy it with the whole family.
Hidden Place. Formentera is my place of constant escape, when I’m here in Ibiza during the whole season, at least at the weekend I go by boat, and this escape generates light and huge internal tranquility.
Another recommendation in Ibiza, to see is to go to visit, Dalt Vila, breathe and visit the Punic museum. Ibiza is one of the cradles of the Phoenician art, and that a museum that is not known for the public in general, and that for me is of obligatory visit, to be able to know that great culture in Dalt Vila.