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Space & Grace

Glyn Thomas revisits Gran Via Casino, Madrid and talks to Carlos Campos

Back in late 2013 we interviewed Carlos Campos on his new role as general manager at the new Gran Via Casino – a beautiful new casino located in a historic building in Madrid. Some 2 years on we catch up to see how he, and the casino, have fared.

Carlos, you have worked at a number of prestigious casinos in Portugal – Casino da Povoa, Casino Estoril, Casino Lisboa and a Casino da Madeira – but is the Gran Via Casino the pinnacle?

All of the projects were and are interesting, but it is obvious that Gran Via Casino and Casino Lisboa, because I was involved since its construction, are right now the pinnacle of my professional life.

When we spoke last the casino was due to open but the beauty of the building was apparent even then. Are you pleased with the work of the Architects, Steelman Partners Europe?

Yes, the work they have done was extraordinary and that is reflected on the beauty of Gran Via Casino. Most of the customers would confirm it is quite an historical building where Steelman Partners have been able to understand, merge and deliver a unique vision for leisure and history in the same location

How have guests treated Gran Via? Is it as much a meeting and dining venue as a casino?

Gran Via Casino because of its loftiness and singularity make the guests to repeat the experience and to become regular costumers of the Casino. We have leisure areas food and music driven heavily demanded by our guests.

Its a small venue so how do you keep the offer to guests fresh and exciting – or is it more a case of good service and customer care bringing guests back?

It is quite a lot of everything. In Gran Via Casino we are constantly improving to adjust the supply according to the guests demands and needs. But we never forget that in this business the service is the most important. The casinos do not sell games, leisure’s, shows and F&B , we sell services, services and not dreams. In order to do so we have developed a strong annual calendar so that we’re able to always deliver new experiences to our guests.

Do you cater primarily for locals or tourists?

The locals are our most representative customers, but we have a great number of visits by guests from everywhere in the world. The split could be fifty-fifty.

You have another casino in Madrid – the Aranjuez – do you work closely with the management there?

Yes, we are permanently in communication, in a way to avoid inertness of customers it is important to communicate directly and regularly, diversify the offers and so give our guests 2 choices of quality in Madrid.

Is there the opportunity for career development / experience for staff in both casinos?

Yes, Grupo COMAR is a company that recognizes the work and provides the development of professional careers to their employees.

Finally, you were busy in the run up to opening before but hopefully now have some free time for leisure. What to you do when not working?

At this moment, my worries about the work are different than back then but still quite exhausting and don’t allow me to have leisure time in Madrid. During my week-time I live and breath work, I don’t know how to be in a project other way, but in my rest days, whenever my Job allows me, I go to Portugal to spend time with my family.

Discover the history of the Gran Vía

To show the history of the building that now houses the Casino Gran Via the Comar Group have painstakingly created a photographic exhibition. This record of the life of the Madrid street from its early years is within the casino itself.

‘Memoirs of Gran Vía’ comprises 175 snapshots of historical character with some of them taken in the late nineteenth century. All of them are distributed in 15 areas of the Casino with a different theme. On the ground floor are generic pictures that symbolize the spirit of the exhibition as a whole; in the Game Room, a corner where you can see vintage pictures of the daily life of Madrid is located; on the staircase there are several views of the Gran Via.

The first level court area hosts photos that reflect the construction of the Gran Vía; in the Electronic Roulette area are photos of Montera street - almost unrecognizable due to the passage of time as well as images of places near Gran Vía, including the Puerta del Sol, Plaza Spain and the Alcalá Street.

Going up to the second floor, on the staircase, atrium and in the Bacarrat area the Casino has military / political photographs between the sidewalks of Gran Vía, while the Circle Restaurant shows kings from different eras. The Champagne Bar Bulle features the Puerta del Sol. The visitor can finish the tour in the Poker Room, a tribute to the Cibeles and Neptune.

Access to the exhibition is free, you only need to go through the check-in Casino Gran Vía. In addition, each photo has included a QR code which, from a smartphone or smart device, anyone can download information from each work. It’s a great opportunity to taste the restaurants and entertainment of different areas of the building and finally, why not try your luck?