No story can be told about Vila Real de Santo António and the hotel without stumbling upon the name Ramirez. When Sebastian Ramirez opened the country’s first factory for the production of jute and canned fish in 1853, he put Vila Real de Santo António on the map as the Portuguese centre of the prominent canning industry. As the pioneers of the fish trade, the Ramirez family contributed significantly to the town’s wealth. Nowadays, the family business – which is the oldest canned food company in the world still in the active – is run by its fifth generation.
Ramirez not only laid the foundation for the Portuguese canned food industry, but also for the country’s hotel business by creating one of its most wonderful gems – the hotel Guadiana.
Manuel Garcia Ramirez commissioned the Swiss architect Ernest Korrodi to design the hotel. The goal was to welcome national and international guests to the city “with glamour and gloria”. He then invited Konrad Wissman to run the Grande Hotel Guadiana. Entrepreneurs from all over Europe, who were doing good business with the city’s flourishing canning industry, flocked to Vila Real de Santo António and stayed at the hotel, building its reputation as a crucial part of the region’s golden era.