Liran Wizman on specialising in hospitality, creating perfect spaces and introducing two new hotels to the Sircle Collection

By Chantelle Billson | 23 Mar 2022 | Travel, Leaders, Design

The hospitality entrepreneur tells Tempus why he was drawn to invest in hotels, what it takes to create a perfect space and why he chose the locations of Lisbon and Berlin for his two newest properties.

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Hotelier Liran Wizman has spent much of his life investing in real estate in order to create hotels that embody his love of city spaces. The 45-year-old, who spends his time between his home in Amsterdam, which he shares with his wife and three children, and the locations of his European hotels, is rarely in one place for long, but he wouldn't have it any other way.

"I love to travel and I love cities in general, especially London, but only for a while", he tells Tempus. Wizman's expertise in the hospitality industry can be seen in the Sircle Collection, which he founded in 2011, and which in November last year, celebrated a decade of running across Europe. 

It includes Sir Hotels, Max Brown Hotels and Park Centraal Hotels, and the hospitality entrepreneur is now working on opening two new Sir Hotels, within the next two years, to mark his collection's 10-year anniversary. Joining the already existing Sir Hotels in Berlin, Ibiza, Hamburg and Barcelona will be Sir Frankie in Berlin and the yet-to-be-named Sir Hotel in Lisbon's Barreiro Alton region. 

The Lisbon hotel will be designed by Spanish architectural designer Lazaro Rosa-Violan, while Sir Frankie will be created by Berlin-based designer, Werner Aisslinger. Both hotels will feature luxury elements such as guest rooms with garden areas in Lisbon, but it is Sir Frankie in Berlin which could perhaps encapsulate the ultimate in luxury, boasting an outdoor pool, spa, gym and co-working area, to name a few of its features. It will also become the biggest Sir Hotel to date.

Due to the pandemic, Wizman's travel was substantially halted, and the slower pace of life inspired him to introduce Sircle private member's club to his Sir Victor hotel in Barcelona. This luxury addition brings exclusive areas and offerings to members and will be expanded across his hotels in Amsterdam and Vienna this year, and the two new Sir Hotels. 

Here, Wizman talks about how he has come to specialise in hospitality, his passion for creating hotels, the newest additions to the Sircle Collection and how he creates perfect spaces. 

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How did you get to where you are today?

As a 20-year-old lawyer in Tel Aviv, I went with a group of investors from Israel to invest in real estate deals all over Europe. An Israeli bank told us of opportunities that were in Germany and Amsterdam, so it started as an investment in properties with this group of people and I was there as a representative owning a small part.

Part of those investments were small hotels in Amsterdam and very quickly I understood hotels were something you can really make a difference with in terms of investment and money-wise. With an apartment or office you cannot really improve it much but with a hotel, if you give it attention, love and care then you can turn it around and make a good business out of it, so I was drawn to buy smaller hotels and collect people to invest in them. Hotels also offer an aspect of creativity, and you can bring your personality to them, so it was not purely for business reasons. I was personally drawn to hotels where I could express myself as I grew up around my mother who is a painter.

What does your collection offer to guests?

I love to look at my places not as hotels but as a collection of places that are in the city. A hotel is just part of the component of the collection of places, so I never look at it as if I have a hotel in Barcelona but instead, we have a place that is part of the city. The hotels are not outsiders that have come into the city.

My ambition is that a person would say they came to the places that we have and they didn't want to leave. One of the most important things is to connect and feel the place is part of the city itself. In our places, you feel that when you come to Sir Hotel or Max Brown you come to the city, you will immediately be connected to the right places, be in the right place. We offer a service called Sir Explore where friends of the brand will give you an experience. For example, in Amsterdam we have a lady that knows all the old bars and clubs and can take you on a tour of the city from that point of view. 

Tell us about the creation of your Sircle member's club? 

I feel it is something we have been doing for years and now we have wrapped it in a more organised way so that members get exclusive social places where only they can be. It has been two years in the making in response to the pandemic which accelerated and put the spotlight on a lot of the things we already did, but we saw we could do more. 

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Can you explain how you create a perfect space? 

A room shouldn't be trying to reinvent the wheel. It should not try to impress too much, be overly busy or use gimmicks. I feel a room needs privacy, openness and it needs to be a calming, relaxing and super comfortable place. Comfort is key and even if we're making a Max Brown as a three-star hotel you will still get a Four Seasons bed. 

In public spaces, I think the flow and how it connects people is most important. The design itself is a matter of taste - different people like different things. I have been in places where I didn't like the aesthetics so much, but I felt very comfortable because of how the room was arranged. Public spaces need to be very open so people can see each other and connect, but you should still have some places to hide. 

How do you ensure your places fit into the locations? 

It's part of our DNA to start with a blank canvas. We are a team and we are collecting the individuals that can help us to create the spaces. In Vienna, for example, we commissioned a local artist who created exclusive pieces for the rooms. There are more than 400 pieces of art, sculpture and painting there that have been created by local artists. 

Another element is the X BANK shop in our W Hotel in Amsterdam where we sell items made by Amsterdam creatives and it's a huge success here. We love to do it to be part of the fashion, art and design world and give the podium to local designers. We want to expand the concept to our other locations. Currently, in Barcelona, we have a small shop.

Why did you choose the cities of Berlin and Lisbon for your new Sir Hotels? 

Once Berlin's mayor [Klaus Wowereit] said something nice about Berlin, he said, 'we're poor but sexy' and it's true, but Berlin is really developing. It's a strong big city and I see Berlin and Lisbon as two cities which are increasingly being discovered by the international traveller on a bigger scale in the last ten years. They are two beautiful cities.

In Lisbon, the Portuguese have a real sense of design and you see it even in small café's, which don’t need a lot of money invested in them but the Portuguese have a touch. I went there and fell in love with Lisbon, I decided for our brand and myself I would like to spend more time in this part of the world - there is a lot of creativity, amazing artists and people want to be there. 

The same is true of Berlin in a different way. It's not the same weather, but it's very diverse and creative and very non-German in a way. It's much more open and international, but of course, It's one of the biggest German cities. The history of both cities is magic, plus one of the first hotels I brought was in Berlin in 2003.