Source: eKapija | Monday, 12.03.2018.| 15:20
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Belgrade gets its own Mama Shelter – Hotel guests to be provided with table soccer, open air film screenings and other entertainment

Mama Shelter Belgrade interior
Mothers always welcome us with coffee and dessert, a table set for a scrumptious meal and various home-made delicacies...

Outside of family homes, this kind of warm and welcoming ambiance is present in the French hotel chain Mama Shelter, one of whose hotels officially opened for guests in Belgrade on March 8. Mama Shelter Belgrade is located in the city's center, on the topmost (fourth) floor of the Rajiceva Shopping Center in the Kneza Mihaila Street and has 125 rooms.

Family home-like experience – this is what sets apart Mama Shelter hotels. The brand's philosophy is to take care of its guests as if they were visiting mother's home, providing top quality service and avoiding cliches.

Each Mama Shelter hotel is characteristic of the city is located in. The Belgrade hotel, for example, offers stuffed cabbage leaves and other traditional Serbian dishes.

The concept made quite a boom in the tourism market in 2008, when the first hotel opened in the 20th arrondissement of Paris. Mama Shelter is now present in Marseille, Lyon, Bordeaux, Los Angeles, Rio de Janeiro. The brand was founded by the Trigano family – father Serge and sons Benjamin and Jeremie, who visited the Serbian capital on the occasion of the hotel's opening, and not for the first time either.

Our portal had the opportunity to talk with Jeremie Trigano about the new hotel in Serbia, the secret of the success of the Mama Shelter Brand and their further plans.

Belgrade as new Berlin

Casually dressed in jeans and sneakers, Jeremie Trigano leaves an impression of a relaxed person, as befits the brand itself. He says for eKapija that what attracts him to Belgrade is the openness, the nightlife and the great potential. He liked the city and its people at first sight, so there was no doubt that a Mama Shelter hotel would be established there.

– Our idea is to go to new cities, such as Belgrade, which is a “new Berlin” for us. You are close enough to Paris and Istanbul, the location is great, which is especially attractive to us. Belgrade is a developing city with a lot of potential, and we are an urban hotel brand and we expand to places with their own history which have a lot to offer. We want to attract people from other countries, but also to welcome local guests – Trigano points out.

He explains that, before they opened the hotel, they visited various places in Belgrade, watching what people ate and drank and which clubs they visited. Based on this, they concluded that Serbs like coffee, cocktails, kebabs...

– We take this into consideration, because we want to provide home-like ambiance to guests arriving to Belgrade and make them feel at home. We want to give good suggestions to our guests when it comes to local restaurants, antique shops and other places the citizens of Belgrade shop at, which is why we've also designed a city guide at Mama Shelter, where foreigners will be able to discover hidden places in Belgrade.

Mama Shelter cofounder Jeremie Trigano and Mama Shelter Belgrade General Manager Dejan Majic
While showing us the hotel Jeremie tells us that he realized during his earlier visits to Belgrade that such a hotel didn't exist there and that the city needed it. Wherever he stayed, he says, he mostly wanted to “die of boredom” by 9 pm, as, aside from rooms, hotels offered barely anything.

– Hotels usually have a lobby and then rooms on floors, whereas we have a large bar and a restaurant with a lobby, and then conference halls too. The bar is located between the restaurant and the loft. The loft section features tables for up to 8 people, and the restaurant can have as many as 60 people dining at the same time. Other hotels don't offer this.

Four conference halls are located right next to the restaurant and can take in 4 to 80 people.

As Trigano says, 50% of the total number of guests of this hotel chain are business clients, which goes for both local and foreign tourists. Some of the clients of Mama Shelter in the world are designer brands Hermes, Adidas, Nike, pharmaceutical companies and many others.

Restaurant as main business

The restaurant at Mama Shelter Belgrade offers local specialties, pizza and many other international specialties. Cocktails, wine and good coffee are also their assets, our interviewee believes, whereas the prices are decent, according to him.

The special characteristic of this hotel, he points out, is that the restaurant is their main business, generating 56% of the income.

The restaurant takes up 2,000 m2, has 230 seats indoors and around 100 outdoors.

– Our aim is to animate people and have the place be lively. We will therefore organize various programs, from yoga and Sunday brunch to evening DJ parties.

At Mama Shelter, you can also play table soccer or table tennis, watch movies under an open sky, but also enjoy a good night out.

Our interviewee says that he “can't discuss” the investment in the hotel itself, as it's an Israeli investment, but notes that EUR 18 million was invested in a shopping center with a hotel.

The arrival to Belgrade, he says, happened at the right time, as the middle class is beginning to grow, and their target group are not the rich, but the upper middle class.

A total of 86 people work at Mama Shelter, and the number will reach 105 when the weather clears up and the garden opens.

New hotels worldwide

Our interviewee also announces a further expansion of the hotel chain. In two months, a hotel will open in Prague, then another one in Toulouse in October, and then next year in Lille, Lisbon, Sao Paulo, London and another one in Paris.

The plans for 2020 include the opening of hotels in Luxembourg, Dubai, Santiago and another one in Rio de Janeiro.

– We are not planning to open another hotel in the region for the time being. The one in Belgrade is important to us, as we are oriented towards cities and urban locations, which why we've chosen the capital of Serbia.

Everyone's welcome at Mama Shelter, Trigano concludes – whether arriving by car or by bike, with a child or a dog, for tea or for coffee, pizza or stake, an overnight stay or team building...

– There's room for everyone. The aim is for Mama Shelter to be like a second home for guests. Hence the name, as it's always the mom who loves us and provides for us.

Our interviewee also revealed to us the secret of the young hotel brand's incredible success, which he says lies in teamwork and satisfaction. Happy guests, happy employees, happy mama – is their motto.

Sanja Sojic
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