25hours | Interview

"We are starting a new era"

Christoph Hoffmann, CEO and co-founder of 25hours.
Stephan Lemke, 25hours
Christoph Hoffmann, CEO and co-founder of 25hours.

25hours recently opened its 13th hotel in Florence. We spoke to the co-founder of the company, Christoph Hoffmann, about the background of the project in Tuscany.

Christoph Hoffmann, the hotel in Florence is the first 25hours to open after the peak of the corona pandemic. Is everything running as before or have planning and opening changed?
Christoph Hoffmann: The planning has been delayed. During the hard time of the lockdown, the construction site was paralyzed. But from an operator's point of view, this was rather positive, as we can now ramp up the hotel in a good amount of time. A big challenge is the local market, which is very different from Berlin or Hamburg. Florence only has 400,000 inhabitants and the inhibition threshold to visit a local hotel is quite high. We try to arouse interest with events. With the restaurant and the bar, we have already found greater acceptance.

How were the first days after the opening? Is there already a great demand?
The house is not yet full, but things are looking up. The demand comes from the neighbouring countries Germany, Austria, Switzerland and from the 25hours cosmos. We are still missing the international target groups, the Asian target groups are completely missing out, the US market is hesitant. We have taken our time on the economic level, that we don't have to have a crazy occupancy from one day to the next.

The design follows Dante's poem "The Divine Comedy." There are rooms in heavenly paradise or blazing hell. How is that received and which category is more in demand?
It's a very different 25hours and it was a challenge to implement the 25hours idea that does justice to the grandeur and history of Florence. We try to give every guest the opportunity to choose their own room and currently there is more interest in the Inferno. The rooms are more spectacular with the extreme colors and heavy velvet curtains than the soft and light Paradiso rooms. For longer stays, some change camps.

What are the expectations for the hotel as a whole?
We are entering a new era of city hotels. It is clearly more driven by leisure and recreation. It is definitely no longer a business hotel, unlike Cologne, Düsseldorf or Frankfurt. It's right in the centre of the city with lots of monuments, we have a small pool and cooperate with wineries. The hotel is an urban leisure product. We want to do this even more in the future. The market is changing.

How are the preparations for the second new opening this year in Dubai going?
The hotel is going to be amazing, the opening is planned for December. The 434-room property is also Leisure-driven. The roof terrace is 2000 square meters, we have a huge pool and a restaurant there. It is our first 5-star hotel, so we can position ourselves better in Dubai. Overall, it will be an extremely exciting project.