This is the first post in a 6-part series covering our site inspections at three Chic Outlet Shopping Villages in Madrid, Dublin and Paris. The luxury shopping venues located just outside the city limits offer customized, full-service programs for international groups. There are nine Chic Outlets in Europe.
Trendy Camper Shoes are a notoriously expensive purchase in the US, especially for men. Here at the Camper outlet at Las Rozas Village, located 30 minutes outside central Madrid, the most expensive mens shoes run about $140 (US), well below the $200 price tag in America.
The savings on luxury brands are only part of the experience at Chic Outlets. The shopping malls, for a lack of a better term, are completely unlike anything stateside. The ambience is decidedly upscale, comfortable and absolutely spotless, with several excellent bistros and full-service restaurants at each.
And because of the village’s semi-remote location, the only people at the villages are people who made a dedicated trip to come shopping. You won’t be bumping into any rowdy kids here. Furthermore, group attendees are driven to the villages in a luxurious, new all-black coaches or luxury black sedans/SUVs.
Business is good. June 2013 welcomed a record number of international arrivals, in part due to new partnerships with area DMCs and PCOs. Chic Outlets also boosted its sales force up to 14 international reps specifically to help attract more MICE business.
“We offer tailor-made programs for US groups beginning with a VIP welcome reception,” says Marcelo Molinari, tourism director at Las Rozas. “The hospitality experience begins in the coach with special treatment and a VIP card for additional discounts at the village. We can also always customize the village with company colors and logos.”
Molinari says groups typically come from the tech, finance/banking, pharma, insurance and cosmetic industries, working with DMCs and PCOs in both Madrid and Barcelona.
Groups are welcomed at all of the villages in either a VIP suite or one of the restaurants where they’re introduced to the executive staff. We enjoyed a wine, cheese and olive tasting while Molinari and Mercedes Blanco, business development manager, discussed the many attributes of Las Rozas for groups.
There are about 200 brands represented at Las Rozas, with about 40% of those based in Spain. Chic Outlets offers the services of shopping concierges who can assist attendees on their retail journey. Molinari says it’s very important to have shopping guides fluent in all of the languages represented in any group. The guides can tell attendees where the best deals are, which stores just received a new shipment, and who the hottest local designers are.
“American visitors love the local designers from Madrid and Barcelona because of the vibrant colors,” says Blanco. “And it’s always fun when everyone is done shopping, and we all sit around with a glass of wine and some nice food while comparing what everyone purchased…. We try to customize the shopping experience for our groups too. For example, the Russians love accessories.”
The other more experienced American shoppers in our group said that the prices for US brands like Coach and Michael Kors were about 30-40% lower than what they would pay at home. An iconic full-length Burberry ladies trench we had our eyes on was marked down from $1,200 to $800. The same jacket is listed for $1,495 at Burberry’s website.
Just walking around the mall between all the stores is fun for window browsing and people watching. There’s such a wide range of brands and price points offering something here for any male or female attendee. And everyone we met in both the shops and restaurants spoke fluent English.
At the end of the shopping promenade at Las Rozas Village, there’s an open terrace facing the mountains suitable for cocktail receptions for 300 pax. It’s a wonderful spot to enjoy the outdoors before heading back into Madrid’s intoxicating metropolitan glamour.