Q&A with Roberto Contreras – DC Partners

For Roberto Contreras, CEO, DC Partners, community is everything. It impacts how hotels are built and experienced. Hotel Business spoke with Contreras about the company’s projects, how it honors the communities it builds in and how sustainability impacts the design process.
—Abby Elyssa

How did you get your start in hospitality?
Our first hotel project was the Thompson San Antonio, located on the historic Riverwalk, steps from the San Antonio Museum of Art, historic Alamo and the Tobin Center for Performing Arts. The mixed-use development also includes The Arts Residences. Prior to that we were focused on high-rise condominium developments.

What projects are you working on right now? What are you excited about?
The Thompson Houston welcomed its first guests in February. Like the Thompson San Antonio, the hotel is part of a mixed-use development, The Allen, which includes retail, restaurants and luxury residences. It is the first hotel/condo in the city of Houston in more than two decades. We are now looking forward to our next mixed-use project, in Fredericksburg in the heart of Texas Hill Country, that will also include a mix of boutique hotel, retail and residential.

What project are you most proud of? Why?
The Allen is our largest project to date and is in our own backyard. Thompson Houston is the centerpiece of the six-acre, mixed-use development. It emanates a bespoke richness defining a truly unique identity. We have great views from every floor, guestroom and amenity levels. We paid very close attention to the finishes and mid-century design that define the Thompson Houston experience.

The 7th-floor lobby was designed to take advantage of the great views. The rooftop infinity pool is the first all-porcelain pool. The interior is clad with custom designed large format porcelain panels. There really isn’t anything else like it. The one-acre pool deck also has a large green space to integrate with the neighboring Buffalo Bayou Park.

The hotel will have three on-site restaurants with three additional restaurant venues in the retail pavilion and expansive indoor and outdoor event spaces that take full advantage of the views.

Why are local communities so important to you?
The DC in DC Partners stands for “Developing Communities.” It is our core mission. For us, what is most important is the location and the positive impact on the community. We are very intentional in the way we do things. Everything from the architecture and design to the retail tenants and experiences we offer are designed to bring value to the area. The Allen is as much a destination for out-of-town guests as it is for local Houstonians.

How do you honor the community and its people through your various projects?
We are committed to being a community partner. The city has made a substantial investment in the expansion of Buffalo Bayou Park. It was a key factor in the location. We’re big fans of the Buffalo Bayou Partnership and the work they have done. We worked with them and community stakeholders to develop a property that would serve as an extension of the park and a catalyst for additional development in the area.

Thompson Houston offers an entirely new experience while still feeling very local and connected. The Thompson brand is renowned for its dynamic mix of global sophistication and hyper-local immersion. That was very important to us.

How do you remain mindful of sustainability when developing your projects?
We want our developments to stand the test of time, both architecturally and by the materials we use. Large-format porcelain tile was used throughout the Thompson Houston from the guest baths; the lobby fireplace; the three-story staircase and 50-ft.-tall center column; and the interior of the pool and pool surround. This material is the most sustainable and durable on the market today. It significantly reduces waste compared to natural stone and is completely recyclable.

What’s the best advice you’ve received and how do you apply that to your work?
Guests experience your hotel from the inside-out. Architects always focus on the exterior of a building. Our process is to design the building from the guest’s perspective. It’s critical to see it from the inside out. The design of the lobby, the guestrooms and the dining venues all should be seen from inside looking out to maximize the space and the views. This also includes how guests experience the outdoor spaces as well. The outdoor space is very open and has incredible views. The experience is one of a kind.

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