Hotelier Tomás Beltrán’s Forward-Thinking Approach

Born and raised in Bogotá, after high school, Tomás Beltrán headed straight to Melbourne, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in business entrepreneurship before returning to Colombia in 2005 to work in the family business. But two years later, after his childhood friend Juan Felipe Cruz returned from studying hospitality management in Switzerland, the idea to open a hotel began to take root. “We started fantasizing about the possibility of building a hotel brand that could showcase local creative talent,” says Beltrán. “We thought the city needed to open itself to the idea that hotels could be fun and have spaces for locals to enjoy.”

In 2013, after six years of careful research and planning, the pair finally opened the doors to Click Clack, a hotel in Bogotá’s upscale El Chicó neighborhood. With the help of their in-house team and guided by local firm Plan:b Arquitectos, the property was designed with a distinct façade clad in panels laser cut with a roadmap of the city. The interiors, meanwhile, take their cues from the simplicity of Scandinavian design with custom, locally made furnishings mixed with pieces from the likes of Patricia Urquiola. The highlight, though, is the hotel’s vertical garden, which is the largest in the country at more than 5,300 square feet.

A vertical garden at the Click Clack Hotel Bogotá is the largest in the country

This focus on live greenery is also a feature of the group’s second hotel, which opened in Medellín in 2019. The property is home to more than 45 native plant species, while the rest of the design—the handiwork of the same team as the first location—follows the aesthetics of its sister hotel, but here, locally made and designer-crafted furniture is mixed in with Beltrán and Cruz’s own commissioned creations, such as a Dada-inspired replica of a Leica camera lens reinterpreted as a bedside lamp. “We knew we needed to create a real personality and named our design language Dada Humor,” explains Beltrán. “We enjoy giving [objects] new properties, so we created a few, playing with scale, material, form, and function. Just like with the concept of retinal art, we wanted to reflect irony, humor, and ambiguity.”

More than 45 native plant species animate the interior and exterior of Click Clack’s Medellín hotel

As for what’s next, Beltrán says that while the events of the past year have been difficult, “it has also been a time of amazing intellectual growth.” The outcome is a new focus on transformative experiences, with a recently launched Sleep Lab that tackles the business of obtaining better quality sleep through different methods—from using technology, such as sleep analysis devices, to enhancing nutrition. The plan is to introduce more wellness-related experiences like positive psychology, exercise, and meditation at its properties. “We are exploring the intersection of design, art, and wellness in a whole different way,” Beltrán explains.

Beltrán adds that they would like to expand the brand both locally and abroad over the next five years with at least three new properties—all of which will continue Click Clack’s thoughtful design ethos and forward-thinking approach. “Experiences have to go beyond offering comfort and entertainment. They need to be transcendental,” he says. “We want to become [not only] a cultural epicenter for people to show their work, but also a place where they can find creative inspiration from trends we discover.”

The public area of the Medellín property is brimming with greenery

This article originally appeared in HD’s May 2021 issue.

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