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Joao Sousa conquers hotel market with Conquistador Palace, your next vacation destination
The former world No. 28 opened the family-owned luxury hotel in his home town of Guimarães earlier this year, blending sport with history for guests and fans alike.
Published Dec 14, 2022
WATCH: Sousa reached two ATP finals in 2022, finishing runner-up to Casper Ruud in Geneva before Roland Garros.
Looking for a tennis-themed vacation with a Portuguese flair? Look no further than the Conquistador Palace, run by former world No. 28 Joao Sousa.
Like all elite tennis players, Sousa has spent the bulk of his life hotel hopping, making the 2019 Australian Open men’s doubles semifinalist as much an expert in amenities as overheads.
“That experience lent itself to every detail of the hotel,” Sousa told me in October. “Everything I’ve ever wanted from a hotel stay is present for my guests, and that’s why our main objective is for them to feel like they’re at home.”
The Conquistador Palace is the culmination of a six-year labor of love for Sousa, who bought the centuries-old estate—which was initially completed in 1823—in his home town of Guimarães with his family before fashioning it into a luxury hotel.
“Because it’s in the city center, it becomes part of the city’s heritage. It was part of our vision to restore the building as much as possible to how it looked before, so that took a lot of time, effort, and work to replicate its original style. Every detail took time to work. We have paintings and murals on the wall, and all of that required patience for it to come together exactly as we envisioned.”
The COVID-19 pandemic delayed the hotel’s grand opening by a year, but the Conquistador Palace has put up a strong showing in the 12 months since it began welcoming guests, many of whom have followed Sousa through his 15 years on the ATP tour.
“They’ve enjoyed being able to see my trophies, which we feature in all of our rooms,” said Sousa, who has won four ATP singles titles and completed a ninth season ranked inside the Top 100 in 2022.
“The building itself It offers a lot of history within its walls, and with the themes of the room and the artwork throughout the hotel, it all tells a story to our guests. We find that they feel really special to even be able to stay in such an old building with such immense history, and we’ve been able to blend that history with my own tennis history and my career. That makes it even more special.”
Most special of all about the family-run business for Sousa was his ability to give back to a home town that sees him as a sporting hero.
“It’s always special to spend time at home because they recognize my work, firs in tennis and now what I’ve been able to do for the city with the hotel. Every time I come to the city, the people are coming to see me and like to be around me. I try to make time to give autographs and be among the fans, especially the young ones.”
Though the winter weather in Guimarães makes the Conquistador Palace a tough sell as an off-season destination, Sousa is optimistic he can host his colleagues in the spring when the tour returns to Europe.
“I’ve already had some players tell me they’d like to stay!”