Gonçalo Menezes

David Bell

Creative Art Director – Inspire Capital

Gonçalo Menezes, aged 44 is a passionate surfer with a background in architecture and business communication.

He has been with Inspire Capital since 2016, where he is now Creative Art Director and was heavily involved in the launch of Hotel Immerso in Ericeira, opened in 2022 along with his aunt and uncle. Inspire Capital in an investment firm with a diverse portfolio of interests spanning hospitality, rental accommodation, agriculture and sea farming.

Gonçalo also has his own surfboard brand, Guzo Surfboards, launched in 2010, for which he handcrafts and decorates bespoke surfboards.

Read more about Immerso here

Cédric Etienne

David Bell

Interior Architect

Cédric Etienne, an interior architect, understands the challenges of living in a fast paced society in which the speed of data overloads our lives where more and more is happening in a shorter time.

In response, he is dedicated to creating immersive narratives that engage our senses and inspire us connect with stillness.

Born in Belgium in 1980, Cédric pursued interior architecture at the Faydherbe Academy in Mechelen / Belgium and completed his master’s degree at Politecnico di Milano in Italy.

During the initial years of his career, he gained extensive experience in the poetics of space, working with luxury brands like Giorgio Armani, Yves Saint Laurent, Dior, and Chanel.

A meditation journey brought him to a vipassana retreat in Japan in 2015, where he embraced silence and discovered the concept of ‘Ma’—the pause in time or emptiness of space.

This journey inspired Cédric Etienne to dedicate himself in creating contemplative atmospheres and infusing stillness into our daily lives.

After a few years of research and development, Etienne launched the brand Corkinho in 2017. Numerous trips to Portugal exploring the harvest and production of the material corkhad offered him enough knowledge and stable relations to set out on an entrepreneurial quest of bringing this natural material into contemporary interiors. With its granular texture and warmth and its inherent sound absorption properties, cork would become the essential fundament to design calming interiors and noble objects.

Based on a personal wish to slow down and to travel inwards, Etienne has built up a creative studio around the philosophy of shaping dialogue between silence and space. Studio Cédric Etienne takes a modern-day obstacle serious by proposing interiors, objects and rituals which cater directly to the senses and remind us of the present moment.

Today, stillness is the signature of Studio Cédric Etienne. In 2020 he has established the first still room in a maritime heritage building located in Antwerp’s harbor. Influenced by sacred architecture, still rooms invites to seek inner peace and harmony, using natural materials and elemental structures to provide a poetic atmosphere for meditation, recharge and comfort.

Through his creative practice, Cédric Etienne specializes in crafting tranquil environments in collaboration with architectural studios for various projects, including residential, office, and hospitality spaces.

Cédric Etienne’s signature language not only cultivate a dialogue between architecture and inner space, it inspires to elevate our perception of conscious presence.

Alastair Leithead

David Bell

Portugal trainee, freelance journalist & eco-luxe entrepreneur

After many years as a BBC foreign correspondent, Alastair Leithead is now permanently based in Portugal as a tourism entrepreneur and journalist, currently producing a wine/travelogue podcast on the Alentejo region. He writes blogs both on the challenges of his is new off-grid life in the countryside and on Portuguese wines. He and his wife Ana are building a small rural tourism project called Vale das Estrelas in Odemira.

He spent the spent the academic year 2019-20 as a JSK (Knight) Fellow at Stanford University, researching digital storytelling during a sabbatical from the BBC. His last posting was BBC Africa Correspondent, reporting widely across sub-Saharan Africa for their TV, radio and digital outlets.

In 2018 Alastair produced the first Virtual Reality documentary for BBC News, taking viewers on a journey up the Blue Nile through Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt to cover the story of the dam Ethiopia is building and its regional repercussions. The film won awards including a Rose D’Or. He also produced a VR documentary series on the Congo River.

Alastair has focussed on big theme reporting such as Africa’s population growth and radicalisation and militarisation in the Sahara and specialised in conservation issues, such as the connections between wildlife crime, corruption and state capture. In 2017 he won a Foreign Press Association award for his coverage of the Chibok girls’ release in Nigeria.

Prior to Africa Alastair was the US West Coast Correspondent, based in Los Angeles for four years, covering breaking news and features from across the US as well as Mexico, Colombia, Brazil and Argentina. He travelled from LA to report on the outbreak of civil war in South Sudan, the war in Libya and to cover the super-typhoon in the Philippines for which he was nominated for a 2014 Emmy award.

From February 2009 to May 2011, Alastair was the BBC’s Asia Correspondent, living in Bangkok but reporting across East Asia. He travelled undercover in what was then Burma, reported on the violent standoff on the streets of Thailand, and was first on the scene in some of the small coastal towns worst hit by the Japanese tsunami.

Alastair lived in Afghanistan for two and a half years covering the war. In 2007 he won the Bayeux Television Award for war correspondents, was shortlisted for a BAFTA in 2008 and a Royal Television Society Award in 2007. Alastair lived in Miami in 2005/6, covering the southern States. He weathered Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, worked in post-war Iraq and worked in South Africa from 2001.

Alastair Leithead was brought up in Newcastle upon Tyne where he attended the Royal Grammar School, and received an honours degree in Geography from Manchester University. He began journalism on the Newcastle Evening Chronicle and quickly moved into broadcasting with the BBC on radio and regional TV and as a producer in London before becoming a foreign correspondent.

José Gil Duarte

David Bell

Managing Partner – Horwath

José Gil Duarte is the Managing Partner of Horwath HTL, Portugal. Horwath HTL is the global leader in hotel, tourism and leisure consulting, covering every aspect of hotel real estate, tourism and leisure development.

A hospitality and real estate specialist, based in Portugal, with over 30 years’ experience in professional business strategic advisory services and general management in a wide range of institutional investors, family offices, public authorities, independently-managed and publicly-listed international companies.

With his motivation and work ethics, José Gil has been leading a multidisciplinary team and shows a portfolio of unique projects. Being Founder & CEO at Essentia, he has been providing key service lines such as Planning & Development, Asset Management, Tourism, Valuation and Transaction Advisory. Currently, José Gil shares his expertise as Managing Partner of Horwath HTL Portugal to serve the dynamic Portuguese market.

Jo Littefair

David Bell

Co-founder, Goddard Littlefair

Growing up in the countryside into a farming family, it was the women in Jo’s life who introduced her to the art of sewing, upholstery-making and the craft of working with fabric. It was her desire to see the world that sparked a lifelong love affair with travel and exploration.

Combining these two passions led Jo to study textiles design at university and for her to go on and work in the hospitality industry, first of all on super yachts in the Mediterranean and later in hotels, spas, luxury residences and restaurants and bars.

A seasoned FF&E designer, Jo established her eponymous studio, Goddard Littlefair, with husband and business partner, Martin Goddard in 2012. Since its inception, the studio has established one of the most covetable portfolios in the industry working with the world’s leading hoteliers and operators, including Waldorf Astoria, Four Seasons, Raffles and many more.

Jo’s approach to her work infuses a deep curiosity for new experiences, cultures and a profound respect for the history and style of a property. Working with her 70 strong, multidisciplinary team across studios in London and Porto, Goddard Littlefair has been awarded countless industry awards and accolades. In recognition of her outstanding contributions to the industry, Jo was honoured with the ‘Interior Designer of The Year’ award at the Brit List Awards in 2019.

Renowned for her expertise, Jo is frequently called upon to contribute to articles sharing her thoughts on the interior design industry, future forecasting trends, and how design can influence wellbeing.

Rodrigo Machaz

David Bell

Founder & Managing Partner – Memmo Hotels

The hospitality industry is part of Rodrigo Machaz’s genetic make-up: as the grandson of one of the founders of the Tivoli Hotels group, he was born and raised in it. With a degree in business management and a postgraduate qualification in hotel management from Cornell University, his professional career has always been linked to the hotel industry.

He spent his early career in several hotel companies, holding various positions with Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts and as European manager for Business Development with the multinational Swisscom, for hotel chains such as NH and Hilton.

His ambition to create his own project, as well as his passion for the sea and surfing, took him to the Algarve, where in 2007 he resolved to put the knowledge he had acquired into practice and carry on the family tradition – starting Memmo Baleeira, in Sagres, the first hotel of the Memmo brand.

Since 2008, he has been both Managing Director and Managing Partner of the Memmo group, which stands out for its collection of memorable hotels: Memmo Baleeira in Sagres, Memmo Alfama andMmemmo Príncipe Real in Lisbon, and the soon-to-be Memmo Pául do Mar in Madeira – the Memmo group’s latest acquisition.

Also under development is a new property in the Algarve countryside, Memmo Arade (42 rooms) and three new properties in Lisbon: Memmo Convento de Santa Mónica (122 rooms), Memmo Dominic (15 rooms) and The House of Memmo at Príncipe Real (12 rooms).

Mark Eacott

David Bell

Global VP of Design – Ennismore

Mark joined Ennismore in 2018 from Los Angeles as part of the Accor acquisition of the SBE Lifestyle Brands. Bringing with it his in-depth knowledge of the SLS, Mondrian, HYDE, and Delano legacy brands, Mark was part of a small team based out of Singapore, instrumental in the growth of Ennismore in Asia-Pacific.

Now under a global role from Dubai, Mark co-leads the Ennismore Global Design Team with Charlie North. Working as a ‘hand-to-glove’ link between the Ennismore brands and regional design teams, Mark is responsible for hi-level design-direction along with defining the design and product strategy for Ennismore brands, ensuring they remain future-proofed and true to their unique brand DNA and purpose.

Prior to Ennismore Mark spent more than 19 years working in London, New York and Shanghai, training under renowned architects, designers, and hospitality groups such as Soho House, OMA, Richard Rogers, Softroom, HBA and Philippe Starck’s YOO.

Juan Sainz de los Terrero

David Bell

Director of Design - Hilton Hotels

Juan Sainz de los Terreros is an Architect and Interior Designer with over fifteen years of professional experience in shaping the landscape of hospitality. He currently holds a leadership position in the design department of Hilton Hotels, overseeing projects in Northern and Western Europe as well as North Africa.

From a family with a long tradition of architects among its members, Juan began his professional career at the studio of Manel Brullet, winner of several FAD awards and director of the Barcelona School of Architecture. From Manel, he learned the true craft of architecture by participating in various hospitality, health care and educational projects, such as the renovation of the well-known Hospital del Mar in Barcelona.

In 2012, Juan met Jaime Beriestain, a renowned Chilean interior designer based in Barcelona, and decided to join his studio as director. Highlights from this period include the opening of Beriestain’s own flagship store in Barcelona, and the completion of the hotels Almanac, Sofía (now Park Hyatt), Room Mate Gerard, and H10 The One in the same city.

Other notable projects include the Hyatt Regency in Nice, the Hilton Tangier, and the Radisson Blu in Casablanca. Alongside the hospitality projects he also develops high-end residential projects in Barcelona, Geneva, Santiago de Chile, Doha, and the Bahamas, among others.

Following the completion of the Canopy by Hilton Madrid Castellana hotel in 2022, Juan made the leap to the major hotel industry, joining Hilton Worldwide EMEA as Director of Design. In his current role, he is responsible for achieving the highest standards of design across Hilton’s diverse portfolio, driving innovation, fostering creativity, and integrating ESG principles into all facets of the design process.

Gonçalo Pessoa

David Bell

CEO – Sublime Hotels

Gonçalo Pessoa, born 1974 in Lisbon, Portugal. After high school, followed an Aerospace Engineering degree at Instituto Superior Técnico that I never finished due to a sudden love affair with aviation. Joined TAP Air Portugal in 1998 as an Airline Pilot and left just after COVID as a senior long-haul Captain to focus myself 100% in my other passion: Hospitality business. In 2001 I fell in love with Comporta and decided to buy some land for a family summer house that finally became a small boutique hotel in 2014 with only 14 rooms: Sublime Comporta. This project kept on growing until its reality today with 23 rooms + 22 villas and several facilities. Today Sublime Hotels also operates a lovely 15 rooms hotel in central Lisbon, has under construction another 43 Villas in Comporta and other 2 projects in pipeline for Portugal’s best locations…

Ana Ortega-Miranda

David Bell

Senior Director Design & Project Management – Marriott International

Ana has been involved in the development of hospitality projects for more than 15 years on projects within Europe and North  Africa.

At Marriott International, Ana leads the team that oversees the new developments, renovations and interior design work in Marriot’s properties in Southern and Easter Europe

Her focus is on upper and upper upscale properties with a range of brands that includes the business-friendly Courtyard and millennial brand Moxy, core brands Marriott and Sheraton, to the personality-driven Autograph Collection.

Working for Marriott Global Design  over the last eight years, Ana has had the opportunity to develop spaces that can give travelers at every level the unique experiences they didn’t even know they wanted.

Ana has a passion for traveling and, together with her work, has given her a true appreciation for the importance of cultural authenticity and thoughtful and innovative design.