At work with: Christian Kraus and Veronique Polaert, Casa Mae

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This morning we’re in sunny Lagos, Portugal, (relaxing) and at work with publishers and hotel managers Christian Kraus and Veronique Polaert. 

As well as planning the launch of new boutique hotel Casa Mae, to represent its ethos and sensibility, Christina and Veronique have just released the hotel’s very own magazine, a bilingual reflection of the Portuguese craftsmanship that has gone into the hotel. We catch up with the pair to find out whether a hotel can also be a publishing house.

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Where are you today?
C: While we are still finalizing the construction work on our hotel, our headquarters are in a container next to the site… so, this is the less glamorous part. But in the afternoon, we’ll head to our favorite beach bar with our laptops – office with a view, feet in the sand!

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What can you see from the window?
C: At this moment we are watching of our eight metre palm trees being moved over the historic city wall by crane! True story and quite spectacular… hope it holds!

Are you a morning or evening person?
C: It’s quite funny, Vero is the true night owl, and I like to get up at 5am… So, we can work in shifts! It has happened that I was getting up and making coffee just when Vero was just done with her day of work getting ready for bed…

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Which magazine do you first remember?
V: We got inspired by ‘Itineraires d’une cuisine contemporaine’ – the stories are deep and personal, and I love the fact that the magazine is part of an overall concept including a proper place that they have just opened last year in Paris, a beautiful place. Doing a partnership with them and curating events with their chefs and teams in our Casa Mae is actually part of our secret projects.

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What’s your favourite magazine this morning?
V: We have to confess, there is a big shortage of independent magazine shops in Portugal, and I’m missing that a lot, that’s why we want to have a dedicated corner for independent mags in the Casa Mae shop to be able to get all the cool mags down to the Algarve so well, this morning, we are actually reading what’s available down here, i.e. the last issue of ‘Tomorrow Algarve’, a local magazine in English targeted to the British expats community living in the area, nothing too fancy but quite down to earth actually with tips on how to make the perfect bacalhau a bras – whouhou!

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What’s your favourite corner of Lagos this morning?
C: The appropriate answer would probably be something like ‘the Heritage Suite of Casa Mae with the most beautiful light’ or something along those lines…. but to be honest, if I can find one hour to get out on the Atlantic ocean on my paddle board to go around the cliffs, that’s my favorite spot at the moment and the early morning light in Lagos is really special, something with the ocean I guess.

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There’s so many ways to market a hotel – why a magazine?
V: The Casa Mae Magazine isn’t really to market our hotel. In fact you won’t find much about the hotel in the magazine.

While we both had still our banking jobs we were longing for the styles and stories in the self-published magazines to take us away for a moment.

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Now it’s just great to be on the other side of the game and tell all those inspiring stories of our collaboration partners. We enjoyed so much doing those collaborations that we wanted to share our excitement !!

C: We imagine how people sit at all kinds of places and pause for a moment in their daily life to dream about some story in Portugal. And yes, if someone gets interested in the hotel by reading the mag, that is allowed too.

Would you say the magazine is mostly for hotel guests or is it also meant to engage readers that aren’t necessarily going to Lagos?
C: We only very recently started selling copies in Lagos, it is really to be read everywhere, more outside of Portugal for people to get curious about what’s going on in Portugal…

How has the hotel’s sensibility informed the content and look of Case Mae magazine?
V: The magazine is about all the collaborations with designers and artisans across Portugal that are bringing their special touch to the hotel – we wanted to convey this special craft touch in the design of the mag, printed in the oldest printer in Portugal, the sewing is handmade and the way it is put together is very recognizable in Portugal, it looks like the ‘cadernetas’ that were used in schools and for the registries in the old days.

Casa Mae has this old fashioned, crafty feeling in many small details but with its three buildings / three atmospheres, it is very difficult to pin it down to a specific style, it reflects all the different characters of the people that put it together – like the magazine with its 24 stories across generations from the 23 year old ceramist to the 70+ year old carpet maker…

Actually we gathered all of them for a lunch catered by our chef Pedro Limao at our favorite beach bar in Lagos. It was great to see that the Casa Mae spirit working so well, all our collaborators who didn’t know each other before the lunch, connected and some actually started working and collaborating between each other even outside the Casa Mae projects – this is our vision for Casa Mae, to make it a place for creative to get inspired, share and connect!

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What are you most looking forward to this week?
C: It’s going to be a very very busy week for both of us! But for Thursday night our head bartender Tiago is organizing a tasting of the Casa Mae cocktail list, a few drinks combining cocktail classics with herbs and scents of our garden… It’s going to be a bit of a surprise and those are the perks of our new line of business.

What are you least looking forward to this week?
C: Maybe Friday morning? Cocktail tastings tend to have some side effects…

casa-mae.com

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