The Media That Shapes Claus Sendlinger and His Slow Hospitality Brand
Several years ago, Claus Sendlinger began contemplating ways to address his concerns about overdevelopment in the boutique hotel industry, the one he helped nurture with Design Hotels, an international network of independent, style-focused properties, which he founded in 1993 and led as CEO until 2018. Fascinated by various mindful practices he observed germinating across society—such as the Slow Food movement, adaptive reuse, and regenerative agriculture—the German entrepreneur found himself shifting away from the man-made design and technological innovations that drove his earlier work, and toward a more considered notion of travel. His philosophizing resulted in his co-founding, with consultant Peter Conrads, of Slow, a hospitality venture dedicated to creating places that draw upon their locations’ culture, environment, and history as a means to help visitors reconnect with nature, with others, and with themselves. To bring each property to life, Sendlinger assembles a transnational collective of designers, farmers, artists, chefs, and architects whose work engages with slowness and well-being.
The company’s first project, completed in 2016, transformed an agricultural plot in Ibiza into an elegant, contemporary take on an agriturismo (farmhouse retreat) called La Granja. The working farm practices regenerative agriculture, and teaches visitors how it benefits the planet through workshops and community-based projects. (The initiative is taking a break this year, but plans to reopen in another location soon.) Additional properties include Mexico’s Tulum Treehouse, a five-room guesthouse with an open-air restaurant and ceramics studio, and an ancient grains bakery in Berlin’s Mitte district. Upcoming projects range from a multi-building retreat in Lisbon’s historic Graça neighborhood to a buzzing creative campus (the site of Slow’s headquarters) along Berlin’s Spree River. A blend of artist residencies, classes, exhibitions, and collaborations with area arts and environmental organizations further connect visitors with the literal and figurative landscapes surrounding each property.
Sendlinger eschews online booking and social media, preferring to investigate ways to enhance Slow (an acronym for Sensitive, Local, Organic, and Wise) in the physical realm. We recently asked him about his media diet, which focuses on stories about the built and natural environment and apps that help him slow down.