SPOTLIGHT ON: Ricardo Farinha, Chief Commercial Officer for Savoy Signature

Ricardo Farinha, the Chief Commercial Officer of Savoy Signature, offers valuable insights into the brand’s past and future plans. Beginning as a small family business, Savoy Signature has evolved into a collection of six hotels, each offering distinctive and personalized experiences. With a background in project finance and public-private partnerships, Farinha brings a global perspective to his work in project management and financing at Savoy Signature. He recently shared exciting upcoming projects, including the introduction of sustainable luxury at Saccharum, improvements at Calheta Beach, and a new premium and exclusive service at Savoy Palace. Farinha’s leadership promises to enhance Savoy Signature’s reputation for luxury and innovation in the hospitality industry.

Can you tell us about the story behind Savoy Signature and how the brand came to be? 

The name Savoy started as a tiny family business and has grown into Savoy Signature, creating a family legacy in the art of hospitality and service. Now, Savoy Signature is a growing collection of contemporary hotels and resorts based in Madeira and is widely known as one of the leading hotel groups on the island. 

In 2015, Saccharum and Calheta Beach Hotel, both located on Madeira’s south coast of Calheta, integrated the Savoy seal, marking a milestone in the group’s history. In 2019, the properties were renamed Savoy Signature, creating a signature brand with a collection of hotels. 

The Savoy Signature Collection currently is made up of six hotels, each having the same goal of conveying to travelers the unique location and history while providing luxury accommodations and quality service. 

  • Savoy Palace – Tribute Cosmopolitan Resort, the only member of The Leading Hotels of the World in Madeira
  • Royal Savoy – Heritage Sea Resort
  • Saccharum – Hedonist Design Resort
  • Calheta Beach – Fine Sand All-Inclusive Resort
  • Gardens – Panoramic Adults-Only Hotel
  • NEXT – Connected Sea Hotel

Ricardo Farinha, Chief Commercial Officer for Savoy Signature

Savoy Signature is known for offering unique and personalized experiences to its guests. How do you ensure that each hotel is distinct and offers a differentiating experience? 

To ensure the properties are distinct and offer differentiating experiences, each hotel has its own individual concepts, story, values, design, and audiences. The group’s love for hospitality and dedication to their visitors’ happiness is evident in each property’s portfolio. Each concept has been created to adapt to the needs of the markets of Madeira, as well as to fit each of Madeira’s tourists and trends. Each experience represents the identity and welcomes the spirit of Savoy Signature. Well-being and culture are at the heart of each hotel, from exclusive luxury to family holidays and gastronomy – the diverse range of complimentary restaurants, spas, and lifestyle activities extends far beyond each of the hotels.

Prior to joining the hospitality industry, you worked in project finance and public-private partnerships. How has your previous experience influenced your work as the Chief Commercial Officer of Savoy Signature? 

My technical training and professional experience in project finance and public-private partnerships equipped me with a global view on project management and financing given both the broad geographical scope and variety of industries of the projects I had the opportunity to work on.  

I gained my academic training in PPP at the École Nationale des Ponts et Chaussées in Paris and in Project Finance during my MBA at Columbia Business School in New York City. Afterward, at AECOM – a global engineering corporation, I was based mostly in the New York City office but I also traveled extensively while I consulted for the different projects. The sensitivity to multicultural work environments was key to promoting a global vision within the teams I lead as Chief Commercial Officer for the Savoy Signature collection of hotels, resorts, spas and restaurants.

All the business travel while I worked in PPP and project finance added to my own vast personal travel track record, enabling me to experience different places, airports, hotels, restaurants and spas, which induced a comprehensive insight into the hospitality industry from a customer perspective. Once I decided to come back to Portugal and join the family business, this perspective was key to developing products and services that respond to the expectations and needs of the Savoy Signature guests and clients. As a Civil Engineer by training, I have always been very analytical throughout each experience in the hospitality space, not only from the point of view of customer service but also marketing, branding and general hotel, restaurant and spa management. 

Also, something I carry with me is the willingness to grow my family business and the Savoy Signature portfolio. With my experience from AECOM and Bank of Tokyo, I garnered a concrete understanding of methods and processes from these big corporations that I have replicated in the Savoy Signature organization.  

Can you tell us about any upcoming projects or developments? 

There are a few new projects and developments coming to Savoy Signature, such as the new positioning of sustainable luxury at Saccharum. Starting with adopting sustainable practices and, at the same time, maintaining the service and experience. Savoy Signature’s Chef’s Farm is going to be a central element of this sustainability positioning, with 9.8 acres being put to use to produce goods and supply them to the hotel chain. Second is the investment into wellness and the Saccharum Spa by creating various new initiatives and programs. 

Additionally, the new positioning of Saccharum will include two vectors: barefoot luxury and sustainability. As well as, the improvements of the common areas and the creation of new suites. There will also be changes at the gastronomic level. For Calheta Beach, there will be remodeling of some areas, such as catering and reception. Because this was our first hotel and has an audience that is family oriented, we will be optimizing several common spaces to accommodate more families. 

A bigger project coming is for the Savoy Palace, which will be completed towards the end of the year. It is going to be a new concept that provides a premium and exclusive service to customers, aiming to provide a differentiated experience, favoring personalized and intimate service. The unique elegance and comfort combined with a panoramic view and exclusive amenities are going to give the rooms and suites unique quality. The guests will experience exclusive and private spaces in harmony with a luxury resort’s services and infrastructures, 40 rooms are confirmed to be part of this concept. Additional amenities include an exclusive entrance, almost like a new hotel within the Savoy Palace, an exclusive lobby, a guest experience personal assistant, priority booking in the Savoy Signature restaurants, and Laurea Spa