Following their reunion over a “good drop of wine” one winter not so long ago, longtime friends and business associates Christian Zenka, Stephan Gerhard, Christoph Hoffmann, and Kai Hollmann embarked on a joint venture and hospitality experiment. They drew upon their own respective careers and put their heads together to create Bikini Island & Mountain Hotels, with their first hotel in Port de Sóller, Mallorca, being an exercise in “come as you are” hospitality.
SG: Well, the one thing that glued us together as business associates is that we’ve always been going against the grain, whatever position we’re in. We’ve all had similar paths through the hotel world but none of us want to be squeezed into a box. I guess that’s what we’re trying to deliver with Bikini—to give guests this feeling of unimpeded freedom and independence that we’ve all enjoyed throughout our lives.
CZ: Despite the fact that we have our feet on the ground in business, we’re all free spirits at heart. We all experienced the hippie movement in our own ways, and that definitely filtered into each of our consciences and careers. We’re trying to take the liberating essence of the hippie movement and recontextualize it for the traveler of today.
CH: And what we don’t want is mass tourism. We just want people to come and experience the natural beauty that Mallorca has to offer. The mountains, the sea, the beach…
KH: Perhaps, but it’s a crowd of people who know what they’re doing! Although we all have very different personalities, we also each bring something unique to the table. Stephan Gerhard brings a wealth of business knowledge, having founded the Treugast Solutions Group [one of Europe’s leading consultancy corporations in hospitality, leisure, and tourism] and Christian Zenka has always been on the cutting edge of what’s hot, having opened South Africa’s first wine estate hotel back in the 1990s. Christoph Hoffmann, meanwhile, is responsible for the successful expansion of 25hours Hotels group, which involves scouting the world for exciting opportunities and jumping on them.
CH: Kai Hollmann, of course, made a name for himself as the youngest hotel director in Germany at the age of 24. I think that’s why we all work together so well as a team, because we all have our own strengths and they all play off each other perfectly. We all trust each other to make decisions as well. And that goes beyond the four of us: We give our designers and other creatives a free reign if they understand our ideas. It allows everyone to contribute with their own strengths, and I think it’s resulted in a more well-rounded hotel.