Behind The Brand: Sean Moriarty on family life and bouncing back after lockdown.
Sean Moriarty, CEO of luxury resort Quinta do Lago, talks to ParentFolk about family life, travel, and how he’s preparing the resort for the big come back.
Moving to Portugal from Ireland three and half years with his young family, Sean Moriarty was jumping into a demanding and varied role as CEO of one of the most exclusive resorts in Europe. Situated in the Algarve region of Southern Portugal, nestled within the privacy and security of the Ria Formosa nature reserve, Quinta do Lago has become synonymous as a luxury family destination focused on wellbeing, fitness and the great outdoors. We caught up with Sean to talk family life, lockdown living, and how you prepare a resort like QDL for a big come back.
How does Portuguese life suit the family?
My family all moved out with me to Portugal, we now have three children, a son, Bobby, and two daughters Emma and Kimmy. They love the climate here in Portugal and really appreciate it, especially when they go back to visit Ireland and have to layer up with jumpers, coats, scarves and gloves!
Your main role when you joined Quinta do Lago as CEO was to change the demographic of the business for a new audience, how has the role the developed over the last few years?
When I moved here, I was tasked with building on the resorts amazing offering, expanding and changing the demographic of the business for a new target audience. My role is extremely versatile looking after multiple different companies such as real estate, guest services, golf,marketing, and of course hospitality.
I favour a very flat structure which means I am involved from the top to the bottom of the business.
I have lots of time with the team, and really value these one-to-one meetings, as they enable me to get to know my employees and really encourage them to grow within the company. Some meetings are KPI driven, others have more of a free agenda where the team can speak to me in confidence about anything from their personal life to work challenges or their goals.
What does today look like for you?
Today I am focusing on getting the teams ready for action once the Covid-19 lockdown has lifted. I have broken the company into various task force teams which are led by younger members of the Quinta do Lago staff body and are focused on compiling new strategies that will become the future footprint of our business.
I’m also meeting with our task force teams to speak about our social media, our ‘We-Are-Back’ campaign, and our goals. We are extremely aware that we need to be ‘on the button’ engaging those people who are ready to travel, can travel and want to travel.
How does Quinta do Lago differ to other resorts?
It’s one of the most exclusive resorts in Europe. Due to its private location nestled in the Ria Formosa nature reserve, it really appeals to families, friends and individuals alike. Quinta do Lago has stuck to its master plan now for nearly 50 years, which means that we have a huge appreciation for the natural surroundings of the 2,000 acre natural park boasting gentle hills and lagoons. Instead of high rises we have a private beach connecting guests to the Atlantic Ocean.
At Quinta there are never any mass gatherings or queues into private restaurants. We offer clean living and this year we are focusing more than ever on sustainability. This means that we are getting rid of single use plastics, refurbishing our golf courses by implementing more eco-friendly initiatives, and really concentrating on the importance of the environment we live in.
The Magnolia Hotel is a boutique hotel that appeals to families. Why does it work so well for both parents and kids?
The Magnolia is a one of a kind. A truly unique design boutique hotel bringing a taste of Palm Springs to the Algarve. Offering an unbeatable location in the heart of Quinta do Lago, The Magnolia Hotel provides an idyllic base to sample world class golf, shopping, beach and nightlife.
The hotel features 7 cottages in the grounds too, perfect for families. The heated pool, colourful in house restaurant, cinema, gym and spa make a stay here relaxing. We make everything as accessible as possible, and regularly offer special ‘Kids Stay & Eat For Free’ packages during peak periods.
How has being a father influenced the offering for families staying at Quinta do Lago?
I’m extremely lucky to have children that are happy to give me an opinion! My eight year old son is a mini marketer and I actually think of him as the mini CEO of the whole resort. All my children have given me ideas, visions and a focus of what is needed for families.
Personally, I know what it is like to have to entertain three young kids and this has been a huge influence over what we have implemented at the resort. Children cannot do the same thing repeatedly because they will get bored, so we ensure that there is kids’ entertainment on every single day, both during peak and off-peak periods. For example we offer picnics in the park, movie nights, celebrity soccer camps, pool parties, family brunches and fun runs. We have built our resort around kids being active and this is something first-time family guests also comment on.
Having previously visited the resort a few times, we know first-hand how much emphasis is placed on dining. How is having your own source of sustainable seasonal produce helping during Covid-19?
Before we were placed under locked down, numerous residents returned to our resort because this is where they feel most safe. Residents also informed us that the Quinta Farm was also a huge factor in their move- people like to know exactly where there food is coming from. More than ever before fresh food and produce is being appreciated, and even now, the farm is providing the fruit and vegetables being used in our smoothies at PURE, which is still open for takeaway.
We want to continue this journey of sustainability and fresh produce and are continuing to develop and grow our farm as a result.
Quinta do Lago has a real community spirit, the resort seems to work seamlessly from a guest perspective, what’s your vision for moving the resort forward in the next year?
When we launch our ‘We Are Back’ campaign, people will see that we are more focused on customer service than ever before. Right now, our task forces are getting people involved in shaping our company for the future. These task forces give everyone in the company, right from junior levels, the chance to share their ideas and then out them into action. Our employees act like entrepreneurs, they have got real skin in the fame and are extremely involved in keeping our company current. When our guests return, they will instantly feel this pride, passion and excitement about our new offerings, our new packages and programmes.
JUST FOR FUN
Favourite Quinta do Lago spots? The Campus and the adjacent Dano’s Sports Bar & Restaurant is a top favourite because I’ve been part of them from the concept. The Campus is one of the few places I’ve been which always has an atmosphere. I’m also huge fan of Bovino Steakhouse.
Favourite family hangouts? Casa do Lago and The Shack – both ideal family venues. You’ve got access to the manmade beach or lake which means you can sit and enjoy a meal with friends with kids happily playing in earshot.
Favourite resort dish? Currently my favourite dish is the halloumi casserole which is available at Dano’s Sports Bar & Restaurant.