the successful reconversion of “former rugby players” in the South West

In front of the entrance to the Ibis Styles, in Castelnaudary (Aude), a player three meters high, frozen in the metal, makes a pass. At the back of this building with its charmless architecture, three other sculpted silhouettes soar towards the sky for a touch. In this new hotel, there are many nods to the oval balloon. Even the decoration of the rooms is no exception: poles are diverted at the head of the bed and balloons are embedded in the walls. The halls of the establishment are dressed in shirts worn by international players.

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Behind this establishment, which also presents itself as a museum, hide, without much surprise, rugby professionals: Guy Spanghero, ex-third row of the Racing Club de Narbonne, and his two sons, also former rugby players, Philippe and Nicolas. “Two lots, ideally located near the highway, were available. I seized the opportunities ”, remembers Mr. Spanghero, who opened his first hotel in 2013.

Insure your back

But this multi-hatted entrepreneur, broken management and management of agrifood and real estate companies, do not go alone in the adventure. Cautious, he leans on Accor to limit risks. “This group is a war machine. It is efficient, has a reservation center and ensures promotion ”, lists Mr Spanghero, who is investing 6.5 million euros in this hotel project, which also includes a pub and a restaurant.

Novice in the restoration, Vincent Clerc, former winger of the Toulouse Stadium, also prefers to ensure his rear. This young retiree from the oval balloon relied on the McDonald’s sign. After several months of training, he is the boss of a first franchise in the Compans-Caffarelli district, in Toulouse.

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Whether fast food or high end, “It is not enough to love good food and bring an image and a name”, warns Hubert de Faletans, president of the catering branch of the Union des trades et des industries de l’hôtellerie de Haute-Garonne. “This professionally demanding profession cannot be learned in two seconds and you have to be present every day. “

“Surf on your notoriety”

“I advise them to put their hands in the sludge before starting, by multiplying the experiences, and to train themselves”, completes Thomas Fantini, business manager and former partner of Clément Poitrenaud, ex-back of Stade Toulouse, in a restaurant between 2010 and 2014 before the player resells his shares.

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