Salome Gorgiladze: New Lisbon
Salome Gorgiladze can only be described as «Perpetuum Mobile». She is among the young and cool crowd that is setting the capital of Portugal ablaze — once a sea empire, later a fishing country with simple and tasty cuisine and a rich history, and now a fizzing popular destination not at all alien to such concepts as glamour and modern luxury.
While Portugal is increasingly becoming a popular destination for tourists, adventurers and escapists from all walks of life; its capital Lisbon — one of the oldest cities in Europe — can now boast the tag of «glamorous», besides having earned its merit as a «hotspot» within 21st Century Europe. SANA Group Hotels are one of the brands at the forefront of this revolution, and Salome is its masterful captain.
The daughter of diplomats from Georgia, Salome initially planned to continue the family tradition in the diplomatic sphere. She graduated from the Webster University in Geneva with a degree in International Relations and Psychology and volunteered for the United Nations and UNHCR. Her subsequent professional career began at the Global Emerging Markets investment company.
«We funded infrastructure projects in developing countries, supported startups and local governments creating jobs and improving lives of local people, — says Salome. — It was there that I realised how valuable people are for any project. That is why today in SANA Group Hotels we value empathy and individual treatment of all employees in all our teams. This is our modus operandi».
After receiving an MBA, Salome settled in Lisbon. The friendliness of the Portuguese people, their openness, family traditions, wine and delicious cuisine reminded her of her native Georgia. She was simultaneously drawn in by Portugal’s rich history and entrepreneurial spirit, which became especially evident, after Brexit, when many young businesses headed here to develop projects under the sun, and, by the sea.
«It is this special charm that makes Portugal unique and the best country to live in, with its friendly and welcoming society, — enthuses Salome. — I just fell in love with it! It was love at first sight. I didn’t plan to stay long, but here I am happy and fulfilled. Professional and the personal ties I have developed over the years make me feel right at home!»
Unlike the sudden invasion of investors who went to Lisbon after its boom and colourful explosion, SANA Group Hotels had already began investing in the capital for more than two decades. Today, its portfolio includes 16 hotels. It is therefore one can say that SANA Group Hotels did not follow trends in Lisbon, but rather invented them.
Salome began her partnership with SANA in September 2015 as a Director of Business Development and soon became a member of the Executive Board of SANA Group Hotels. It was Salome who played a key role in the creation of SUD Lisboa — the group’s flagship project which opened in 2017. Taking on the leadership and a creative development role, in the space of two years Salome elevated SUD Lisboa to a level of recognition as a worldwide A-lister and one the most celebrated Portuguese brands.
The Epic SANA Lisboa Hotel is the largest hotel in the SANA Group Hotels’ collection — it has 311 modern spacious rooms. It is located close to the Amoreiras shopping center next to the Avenida da Liberdade boulevard, which houses respectable mansions, hotels, restaurants, shops and hotels. According to some ratings, the Avenida is the 35th most expensive street in the world. During the pandemic, the hotel was seemingly quiet, but normally it plays a brilliant host to large conferences and summits. You can invite up to 1300 people into its 1760 sq. m hall.
So after the early flight from Paris I checked in and finally sat down at the Up Scale Bar by the pool at Epic SANA Lisboa. I was drawn to try UpScale Colada made of fresh pineapple juice, coconut ice cream and rum. Then I discovered another attraction — The Scale Lobby Bar. My choice is fresh seafood (they have my favourite pasta with cuttlefish ink), beetroot and orange risotto and a traditional Portuguese dish — cataplana (really wanted to try). After the flight, I didn’t have the strength to fully evaluate the local restaurant Flor-de-Lis. But if the food at the bar, and indeed almost everywhere Lisbon, is so tasty, then «tasty» is a common experience here, which mean visiting Flor-de-Lis should also be tempting for one’s appetite.
The next morning I enjoyed hydrotherapy and jumped into the Turkish bath at Sayanna Wellness Spa. All of its 1700 square metres are modern, ebullient, seminal and beautiful. The warmth of local people is very relaxing too. There is also an additional perk — natural light that lits everything inside the Spa.
B ut the main reason of my trip to Lisbon from the start has been SUD Lisboa. It is the first project of the SANA group outside the hotel business. Salome’s handiwork, who in just two years has managed to add it to the list of the most prestigious venues in Europe.
Formally, the project consists of the three parts: SUD Lisboa Terrazza (restaurant), SUD Pool Lounge (pool) and SUD Lisboa Hall (hall for private events). It feels like a mix of Mediterranean restaurant with London’s Soho House. The rooftop pool is great to relax, meet friends, work, have fun in the evening and look at the Tagus River and the 25th April bridge, which reminds me of the bridge in San Francisco.
I’d call SUD Lisboa — Lisbon’s private club. Cosmopolitan by day and sophisticated in the evening, it is located on the riverfront in Belem, where various startups opened their offices and from where Portuguese sailors set sailed for hundreds of years.
SUD Lisboa is unquestionably the most fashionable place in town, where Valentino, Monica Bellucci, Madonna, Michael Fassbender, Cindy Crawford, Julio Iglesias Jr., Cristiano Ronaldo and many other millennial celebrities relax and unwind. Thus, I’ve decided to take a deeper look into the iconic projects of SANA Group Hotels.
«By being memorable, luxurious yet relaxed, trendy and elegant, SUD Lisboa pays special attention to customer service whether it is modern cuisine full of authentic flavours and aromas, entertainment (a celebrated DJ every night) or an ability to innovate, – reveals my energetic guide, Salome. – All these elements make SUD Lisboa one of the best places to feel special in Lisbon».
Admission is by reservation only. Service is so immense that if I asked the bartenders to stand on both sides, strip to the waist and fan me with feather fans, I had an impression that they would run to look for the fans hidden behind the counter. Their friendliness and sincere desire to help seem to be encoded in their warm Portuguese blood.
I didn’t have the audacity to order a feather fan, but to melt my heart completely, Salome asked the bartender to design and conjure up a «Russian Roulette» cocktail. The secret mixture was infused with strawberries, champagne and some other freshest local fruit. I just loved how refreshing it felt!
Oh, and did I mention the light in this city? During a gentle Lisbon sunset, the famous local bridge, reminiscent of the Golden Gate in San Francisco, can be observed from SUD Lisboa in all its beauty, drowning within the gold of the sun and the bluest water. All this romance combined with cocktails and light snacks is perfect for a modern wedding. The banquet space is 1,700 sq. metres and accommodates 1,700 guests. If someone was going to get married from our editorial office, I would recommend a wedding here — in SUD Lisboa.
It is unique and feels fresh. It’s also perfect for corporate presentations, events for prestigious brands like OMEGA, HBO, Formula 1, which are often held there.
Time to move to the next point of my exploration of Lisbon under the wing of the SANA Group. It is the Epic SANA Marquês hotel. This is a new hotel in the SANA collection, which will open in the very near future.
Its interiors incorporate a combination of SANA luxury and trends. One can see a lot of light, polished surfaces, natural materials and interesting luminescent and light patterns, including in all 379 rooms. Again, Epic SANA Marquês focuses not solely on tourists, but also business clients who come here to work and relax. There are 18 conference rooms, and a conservatory with intimate corners for discussing sensitive matters. There is also a traditional spa and fitness. All of this in the heart of the city, not far from the very same boulevard Avenida da Liberdade, where boutiques, such as Dior, marry within a metropolitan nirvana.
An important attraction of this new hotel is cuisine. To contrast local food that is insanely delicious but also easily available everywhere, Epic SANA Marquês has two new exotic restaurants: Japanese (on the roof) and Italian (on the ground floor). Both offer excellent service and food prepared with quality local ingredient. In the Italian restaurant, they prepare your order right in front of your eyes. So I finally managed to figure out how to make the perfect pizza and pasta dough.
Another highlights my Lisbon adventure – Fifty Seconds, the Michelin restaurant founded by the most celebrated chef of the Iberian Peninsula – Martin Berasategui. The restaurant is located on the top floor of the Myriad by SANA hotel. local version of the famous Dubai sailboat.
To get to Fifty Seconds one needs to spend 50 seconds in the elevator. Hence, fifty Seconds.
Inside, if you ask for a table with a view of the tranquil waters, you will always succeed, simply as each table here has an amazing aquatic view. It is a beautiful view with unique reflective lit magic.
I was lucky to visit during such beautiful weather, and at my table I remembered a quote from the French poet Arthur Rimbaud: «I found it – eternity. This is the sun, merged with the sea». And great food, one would add!
In Fifty Seconds the most memorable encounter is the menu. It is made not according to the principle «everyone orders for themselves», rather than consisting of trial menus, when you order a set of 20 dishes to enjoy and share. My personal highlights were: ice cream with liquorice; jalapeños and cucumber mayonnaise; local lobster with carrots; grapefruit and coffee emulsion; and local shrimp with black garlic and lemon puree.
I have to say cuisine here is both visionary and cosmopolitan.It is a full astronomic immersion that enriches the palette and finally – the soul.
EPIC SANA Lisboa
Address: Av. Eng. Duarte Pacheco 15, 1070-100 Lisboa, Portugal
Phone: +351 21 159 7300
Address: MAAT, Pavilhão Poente
Av. Brasília, 1300-598 Lisboa, Portugal
Phone: +351 21 159 2700
EPIC SANA Marquês
Address: Av. Fontes Pereira de Melo, 8, 1069-310 Lisboa, Portuga
Phone: +351 21 006 4300
Fifty Seconds Martin Berasategui
Address: R. Cais das Naus Lote 2.21.01, 1990-173 Lisboa, Portugal
Phone: +351 21 152 5380