3 min read

Sustainability is a Way of Life - Quinta Camarena

Together with my husband, I founded Quinta Camarena, which started as a sustainable countryside boutique hotel/guest house where guests would feel as if they were staying at a friend’s place.
Sustainability is a Way of Life - Quinta Camarena

Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in hospitality but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Vera Ribeiro-Camarena, Co-Founder and CEO of Quinta Camarena, located in Cercal do Alentejo, Portugal.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

Together with my husband, I founded Quinta Camarena, which started as a sustainable countryside boutique hotel/guest house where guests would feel as if they were staying at a friend’s place. Today we also curate experience vacation programs related to wellness, sports, nature, arts, and food & wine, and we host events and retreats. Our customers are mostly curious and active travelers that like to explore off-the-beaten-path destinations.

Tell us about yourself

While living in New York, and after years working with the fashion and retail industry, I felt the need for a more sustainable and healthier way of living, to live close to nature, and to work on something that could actually do some good to the world. I always had the dream of owning a hotel, and when I found the property that is now Quinta Camarena, I just decided to jump on it.

We had no previous experience with hospitality and didn’t have enough money, but we decided to invest everything we had, took several loans, worked 24/7 on a strong business plan, and went for it. One month after we started, the pandemic came and destroyed all our plans. But it also gave us the time to slow down, get acquainted with this new region we were living, start thinking locally, and really learn what living sustainably meant.

My motivation is to work on something that I really believe in, creating unforgettable moments for our guests, working with trusted small sustainable producers that supply us with delicious and healthy food, and contributing to unleashing the potential of our region and contributing to its sustainable development.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

Developing a trusted network of small sustainable suppliers that deliver organic and artisanal food. It’s not easy, especially because climate change is causing a negative impact on all organic farming projects, but it can be achieved. Clients really feel the love of the food we serve. We are also very proud of all the sustainable initiatives we currently have regarding responsible water and electricity use, conservation of biodiversity, and others. We can never define ourselves as sustainable; we just need to keep working to maximize the positive impact we create and minimize the negative.

What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?

It’s hard to stop and feel totally relaxed. The brain of a business owner is always on the move. In such a quick-paced, evolving world, there are always unexpected situations to handle and new challenges to face.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

Work on your team management and people skills. You need a good network to create a successful business. Have a good financial plan and some alternative ones in case things don’t go as planned. Be ready to adapt when necessary but stay loyal to your vision. It’s a hard balance to find.

Where can people find you and your business?

Website: https://www.quintacamarena.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/QuintaCamarenaPortugal
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/quintacamarena/
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/vera-ribeiro-camarena-45427a6/

If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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