Brothers Charlie and Patrick Hill are the co-founders of Charles Marlow. Their drive, honesty and transparency and commitment to doing business ethically have helped Charles Marlow become a game-changing luxury real estate company in Deià, Mallorca and Ibiza.
I spoke to Charlie and Patrick about how Charles Marlow is responding to the Coronavirus pandemic and their vision for the future.
First of all, what measures have you put in place to safeguard clients?
Charlie: Sales have obviously gone very quiet. Ongoing deals have been paused. Managing the rentals situation has been our priority. As soon as the situation developed, we contacted all the homeowners in our portfolio to ask them to help us put a fair refunds policy in place. They were more than happy to do so.
Patrick: They agreed to allow people to pay final deposits much closer to check-in time. So, if someone can’t take up their rental because of a travel ban that might be in place, they’ll receive a full refund. Now, when someone goes to our website, they’ll see that they can book with us secure in the knowledge that they won’t lose anything if they can’t travel.
Charlie: All the owners responded in a really great way which, we think, reflects the strong relationships we have.
How is the team doing, practically and in terms of morale?
Patrick: In Spain, the situation is very clear, so the team have gone into lockdown and are working virtually from home.
Charlie: Their entrepreneurial mindset kicked in right away. For a couple of days, it was all about what can we get going, what can we work on? This was great but, after all the necessary measures had been put in place, Patrick and I asked the team to slow down and focus on their families. We said, let’s all take care of ourselves and make our communications with each other more about how we’re all doing as people.
Patrick: We spent time last week playing games online together and did an exercise class together this morning. Taking this time out has allowed us to see the situation a bit more clearly and get a sense of what could happen in the next few months.
Things look better in China now. The number of recorded cases is going down. Temporary hospitals are closing because there’s not enough demand. Shops are opening, Beijing Zoo too.
Charlie: We hope that within two to three months, travel will start getting back to normal. So, hopefully, the rental side of our business shouldn’t be impacted too much. If there’s a sudden influx of demand when restrictions are lifted, we’ve got plenty of support to cope. But, right now, as we said, we’re taking it easy and doing things we haven’t had the time to do before.
What is helping you stay sane?
Charlie: Apart from being with my family, I’m glad I have the Charles Marlow team to share my feelings with. Looking inside myself, I’ve wanted to explore my creativity for a long time. Slowing down and becoming clearer is making me more creative. We’re lucky in that working in real estate can be incredibly creative and this is impacting the content we’re producing.
Patrick: I’m not watching the news so much anymore. I’m focusing on the positive and being inspired by seeing communities come together.
I know you’re committed to doing business consciously and ethically. Do you have any thoughts on how the situation could change the way Charles Marlow does business?
Patrick: I’ve been massively inspired by the work of Extinction Rebellion and the way they’re raising awareness of the fact that the way we’ve been living is essentially walking us over the edge of a cliff.
I saw something on social media that said China is seeing the lowest levels of pollution in years, there are dolphins in the canals of Venice, there’s so much beauty in the world. Plot twist: the virus has been us all along. I think that what’s happening can definitely make the world a better place.
And, before anyone writes in, I do know that the dolphins in the canal were Photoshopped!
I’m also happy that the situation is making people aware that they need to support local businesses and be a little more considerate of how they spend their money.
Charlie: As Patrick said, if people are open to shifting their perspectives, we’ll give them the information they need. For some time, we’ve been encouraging the owners of the homes we offer for rent to become greener. We celebrate homes that have solar-powered heating or water filters that mean people don’t need to buy water in plastic bottles.
We’re lucky in that we get to choose the homeowners we want to work with, and we have a strong network of clients so we can be a gently persuasive force for change. For the future, we’re working on a method to rate homes in terms of their green credentials, working towards the point where we can say to homeowners: if you want to be with us, we ask you to meet our environmentally sustainable, regenerative standards.
Everyone at Charles Marlow is sending positive vibes to help you stay safe, well and upbeat. If you’d like to ask us anything or you have a question about the situation in Mallorca and Ibiza, please ask.
Charles Marlow & Bros
Carrer Arxiduc Luís Salvador,
2A, 07179 Deià,