Design Travel explores the interplay between design and travel. It might be a new hotel for business travellers, an airline collaborating with a world-renowned architect or a product designed specifically to enhance the travel experience. Our brief is to make you want to be there and inspire you to seek out incredible design examples when you travel, or in your own city. 

Stephanie Williams, is an interior designer,  writer and travel communicator. Stephanie was the first editor of Qantas epiQure and her work has appeared in magazines, newspapers, television and online.  She also has a love of fashion design, borne while working for Comme des Garcons

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FREE KICK: Match Made In Lisbon For Cristiano Ronaldo and Pestana Hotels

FREE KICK: Match Made In Lisbon For Cristiano Ronaldo and Pestana Hotels

You might have seen our feature by Emily McAuliffe yesterday, about Ronaldo's Pestana CR7 Funchal (he owns 50% of the hotel brand, man of all trades). Given the success of the Funchal property, Ronaldo and Pestana opened an 82-room hotel in downtown Lisbon, just a stone’s throw from the main square Praça do Comércio. While not as overtly football-focused as the Funchal hotel, the Lisbon accommodation still intertwines subtle sporting references into its contemporary design in a way that can be enjoyed by all. “We always have guests saying that they didn’t expect a football themed hotel to be so tasteful,” comments CR7 Lisbon manager Miguel Plantier. “We purposefully didn’t want the design to be intrusive."

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In Lisbon the reception flows through to a restaurant-cum-sports bar, the CR7 Corner Bar & Bistro, where you can catch the latest game while digging in to traditional Portuguese share plates prepared by chef Rui Martins. A DJ plays in the bar three times per week and a stage is set up on occasion to host events. 

En route to the rooms, guests speed past animated screens of Ronaldo in the lift before stepping out into the corridor to the sound of fans cheering in a stadium. Once inside the rooms, dark walls pair with bright pops of colour, such as lime green armchairs and electric blue bedcovers.

Ronaldo was intent on designing the accommodation in line with his personal style. Therefore the hotels reflect his preference for dark colours and modern features, with casual onsite dining and a mandatory fitness area. “We figured that if we designed hotels that he [Cristiano] felt comfortable in, it would attract the right type of guests. If he’s happy, our target market will be too,” says Plantier.

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The hotels are also designed to appeal to tech-savvy travellers, so rooms are kitted out with high-speed Wi-Fi, Apple TV, Netflix streaming capability, Bluetooth audio and HDMI connections. Suites then come with a PlayStation 4 and virtual reality glasses and games. On top of that, guests are offered a mobile phone that acts as a digital concierge to book tours and the like, and is loaded up with maps and apps, including Facebook and Tinder. Thirty minutes of free international calls per day are also included.

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The Pestana Hotel Group is well known for its exceptional service and the CR7 is no different, with personnel carefully recruited to match the brand. The average age of the obliging and energetic staff is 25 years old and most have lived abroad, allowing them to easily connect with their young, well-travelled clientele.

Like his sporting career, Ronaldo is now taking his hotel business across international borders, with CR7s in New York and Madrid due to open in late 2018 or early 2019. The new centrally located hotels will be the biggest yet, with more than 150 rooms each.

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DESIGN GOALS: Game On For Cristiano Ronaldo and Pestana’s CR7 Hotels, Part 1, Funchal

DESIGN GOALS: Game On For Cristiano Ronaldo and Pestana’s CR7 Hotels, Part 1, Funchal