Cesar Martinez Torrecillas

Welcome to an exclusive interview with Cesar Martinez Torrecillas, the General Manager of Ngorongoro Lodge, situated in the heart of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Tanzania. With over 30 years of experience in the hospitality industry, Mr Martinez shares insights into the journey that led to managing this prestigious lodge, its recent renovations, sustainable practices, community engagement, unique guest experiences, culinary delights, and personal reflections on living amidst Tanzania's natural wonders.

COULD YOU SHARE WITH US YOUR JOURNEY IN THE HOSPITALITY INDUSTRY AND HOW IT LED YOU TO BECOME THE GENERAL MANAGER OF NGORONGORO LODGE?

It is a pleasure to say that this year I can proudly say that I have been a part of Melia Hotels International for 30 years. From the exotic Dominican Republic to the wild bush as General Manager with Melia Serengeti Lodge and now in a Cluster position with our newest lodge, Ngorongoro Lodge Member of The Melia Collection.

I started in the Food & Beverage department and worked my way to where I am now. For some people when they reach a certain position, they “relax”, but that’s not me. I like to be 120%, every day. I am sure my team can testify to it. Ha-ha.

THE LODGE UNDERWENT A FULL RENOVATION TO BECOME AN EXAMPLE OF THE AFRICAN MODERNISM ARCHITECTURAL MOVEMENT. WHAT WERE THE INSPIRATIONS BEHIND THIS RENOVATION, AND HOW DOES IT ENHANCE THE GUEST EXPERIENCE?

We were presented with a unique challenge: refurbish the first-ever built lodge at the rim of the crater, maintain the structure, of course, and achieve the standards of a 5-star property like The Melia Collection, always seeking the highest levels of sustainability. There was a stage where we were around 500 people focused on the pre-opening of the lodge. Record time to open a property in the history of Melia.

One of the key points during the renovation was to ensure all rooms had a wide and direct view of the crater. We offer the possibility to wake up and feel immersed in a “painting”. Now, that’s luxury.

Another important focus was to ensure the building was less disruptive to nature, integrating the lodge and the materials into the environment as an important part of our building storytelling.

For me, another very important part is the staff areas. As an anecdote, we rebuilt the staff accommodations rooms to ensure they all had the necessary space to feel “like home” at 2000 feet in the wild.

NGORONGORO LODGE

NGORONGORO LODGE IS SITUATED IN THE HEART OF THE NGORONGORO CONSERVATION AREA, A UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE SITE. HOW DOES THE LODGE CONTRIBUTE TO PRESERVING THE NATURAL ENVIRONMENT WHILE PROVIDING LUXURY ACCOMMODATION?

As a recognized brand within the country, there are many measures we can take to contribute to preserving the natural environment and cultural history of Ngorongoro. To start with, we have a very strict no-plastic policy which is achieved by producing our own still and sparkling water in-house, achieving water quality standards higher than the top water brands in the country. We have a waste management procedure in which all our organic waste is composted and reused as natural resources.

A very important measure to keep our crater unique is making sure no plants, that are not originally from the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, are introduced into the crater. The unique fauna & flora of the crater is one of the long-term goals.

Apart from the in-house measures, we are open to collaborating with many local organizations that seek sponsorship to fight different natural environment issues.

MANAGING A PROPERTY LIKE NGORONGORO LODGE REQUIRES A DEEP UNDERSTANDING OF THE LOCAL COMMUNITY AND ITS NEEDS. HOW DOES THE LODGE ENGAGE WITH AND SUPPORT THE SURROUNDING COMMUNITIES?

Ngorongoro Conservation Area is one of the very few natural protected areas where human settlement is allowed: The Masais.

In our experiences, we offer our guests the opportunity to visit a local Boma, a typical Masai village, and learn all about their culture firsthand. Also, part of our staff is Masai, and as a measure to maintain and promote their heritage, we encourage them to participate in the lodge's daily life and with the guests.

NGORONGORO LODGE

WITH ITS EXCLUSIVE VIEW OF THE CRATER, WHAT UNIQUE EXPERIENCES CAN GUESTS EXPECT DURING THEIR STAY AT NGORONGORO LODGE?

Now this is the part where we stand out. The Melia Collection defines itself as “Handpicked hotels with charm” and I think that is a great claim to explain what we do. We offer our guests all the luxury facilities of a 5-star lodge but also add all the warmth and flexibility of a Spanish brand.

Apart from the tailor-made experiences that we can prepare, with a bit of time of course, haha, guests can enjoy a private bush lunch in the middle of the crater surrounded by nature with the best taste, a Balloon Safari ride across the Ndutu Area, Rim walking safari accompanied by our professional nature guide, romantic dinner with the most exclusive views to the crater and fire ambience, couples massage with the ultimate natural products, an infinity swim in our heated pool with views to the crater, and much more!

THE LODGE OFFERS A VARIETY OF DINING OPTIONS, INCLUDING A RESTAURANT SPECIALIZED IN WORLDWIDE SUPREME GRILLED MEAT CUTS. COULD YOU TELL US MORE ABOUT THE CULINARY EXPERIENCE GUESTS CAN ENJOY AT THE LODGE?

We have three F&B Outlets at Ngorongoro Lodge: The Crater Bar, Crater Lounge and The Crater Grill. All of them under our unique culinary concept: The Crater: An Extraordinary journey.

With a carefully designed menu, we cover all local and international needs with a special touch and modern presentation: At The Crater Bar guests can travel through an exclusive sip from our local cocktails selection Boma Boost, to the most premium selection of South African Wines. The Crater Lounge where our guests can enjoy a full breakfast before starting their safari experience!

The Crater Grill, our A la carte restaurant, is the perfect option for guests looking to make the most out of their stay: Lobster Carpaccio, Tomahawk Steak 1,5 KG, or our famous white chocolate cheesecake is only the start to an unforgettable culinary journey.

And the most important ingredient: all of them with views of the crater.

As exclusive news to LUXE, we are currently finalizing our Crater View Point, our newest 180° terrace with views to the crater where we expect outside guests to come and enjoy lunch in our location.

NGORONGORO LODGE

LIVING IN TANZANIA MUST OFFER A UNIQUE PERSPECTIVE. WHAT ASPECTS OF TANZANIAN CULTURE OR DAILY LIFE DO YOU FIND MOST INSPIRING OR INTERESTING?

The balance. It’s a country that can take you to the deepest levels of empathy while giving you the courage to overcome almost anything.

From being really stuck in traffic surrounded by tuk-tuks and Dala Dala’s, to feeling like the only human in the world while observing the migration in the bush.

For us, it’s also very important to see what the client sees. New eyes always offer us the chance to see our home in many different ways, and the learnings that come from it.

TANZANIA IS KNOWN FOR ITS WILDLIFE AND NATURAL BEAUTY. CAN YOU SHARE A MEMORABLE WILDLIFE ENCOUNTER OR A FAVOURITE SPOT IN THE NGORONGORO CONSERVATION AREA THAT YOU PERSONALLY ENJOY?

Linked to what I was saying about feeling “alone” in the middle of the bush, many of my best memories happened there, especially at the start when I had more time to be adventurous, but I still get some anecdotes from time to time. A few weeks ago we had a big male elephant that “visited” us at the lodge. He walked around the outside areas for a few days giving us his best looks haha. After many years in hospitality, I assure you that this is a type of guest I never expected!

NGORONGORO LODGE

WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT BEING THE GENERAL MANAGER OF NGORONGORO LODGE, AND WHAT KEEPS YOU MOTIVATED IN YOUR ROLE?

The challenge and everything that comes with it. Staying creative, aiming higher, keeping the people motivated, or learning new things about the area and the country.

It’s a combined feeling you don’t get everywhere.

IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE YOU WOULD LIKE TO SHARE WITH OUR READERS THAT THE INTERVIEW DIDN’T COVER?

Well, I hope you come to visit us one day and make lifetime memories with us.

As we say in Tanzania, Karibu!

NGORONGORO LODGE

As we conclude this insightful interview, we extend our gratitude to Mr Martinez for sharing his expertise and passion for preserving the natural beauty and cultural heritage of Tanzania through the remarkable offerings of Ngorongoro Lodge. We invite readers to experience the unparalleled luxury, warmth, and adventure awaiting them amidst the breathtaking landscapes of Ngorongoro Conservation Area. Karibu!

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