Despite spending most of his time catching waves on his surfboard and riding the streets of Lisbon on his Vespa, Rodrigo Machaz is actually one of the slowest guys in the game. Just look to the logo of his Memmo hotels portfolio and you’ll see his spirit animal: a content-looking chameleon, a creature known for moving only a pace or two quicker than the tree it calls home. “But occasionally, they change their scenery and their colors follow,” exclaims Machaz. “And this is me. This is my approach to life, business, and hospitality”. Meet the Lisbonite who's a walking testament to the saying “slow and steady wins the race”.
Well, in 2007 I moved to Sagres, one of the Algarve’s quieter areas, to open the Memmo Baleeira. This move gave me the opportunity to live for the first time in touch with the ocean, the surf, and nature, while also allowing me to bring up my kids in a very tranquil atmosphere. It was love at first sight with the hotel, the locals, and the region, and I immersed myself fully into the area. But the real upheaval came in 2015 when I moved to Lisbon to open Memmo Príncipe Real. It was a tough call after nine years of pure Sagres—it was paradise!—but this move gave me the opportunity to open our first five-star hotel and at the same time to feel all the changes and beats of a “new Lisbon”. I found my life. I thought it might be the wrong move, but I stepped out of my comfort zone, overcame the challenge, and now Lisbon has Memmo Príncipe Real. And then in 2018, I decided to move again with my family to a village near Cascais, back close to the ocean and the mountains but still just 30 kilometers from Lisbon. After living in the vibrant but intense, crazy-beautiful city for three years, I felt a need to rebalance my life—a need to disconnect to reconnect.
If you don’t turn a page in your life, your book will have just one page. And I learned that growing is always a challenging process, but results are often worth it. I went through these phases, and Lisbon is going through one at the moment. It’s fantastic. A few years ago, things were empty, but now there’s life. As long as we remain sensitive to the setting, it will be a fruitful development.
The flavors, the sounds of a new place, the people you meet—these are the things that stay in your memory and this is why I travel. This is also what good hospitality is about. It’s about giving people something more than the moment that they’re in, and about giving them memories. And the Portuguese word for memory, "memória", is what inspired our name.