On the grand stage of life, rarely do we encounter figures who skillfully juggle such different areas of interest and, at the same time, leave an indelible mark in each field
The overall image of businessman Petrică NEGREA’s activity over the past 20 years illustrates his remarkable ability to turn every adversity into an opportunity and every failure into a valuable lesson. From the lyrical stage to the boardroom, from the metropolis of London to the splendor of Bucovina, his story brings a rarely seen mix of art and business.
Upon returning to Romania, he channeled his energy and resources into developing businesses in the hospitality industry, laying the foundation for tourist complexes in the Bucovina region. In our interview, he elaborates on this subject.
Mr. Negrea, could you provide us with an overview of your activities over the past 20 years? What major milestones do you consider to have marked this journey?
Twenty years are not few for a person’s life. However, my feeling is that these years have passed in the blink of an eye, as if it were yesterday.
My academic journey began in 1994, culminating in 1999 with my graduation from the “George Enescu” Academy of Arts in Iasi. During this period, I was employed as a tenor at the “George Enescu” Philharmonic in Iasi.
After graduating in ’99, I left for London, a metropolis I had visited during my student years. It was a radical change for me because there I encountered the hard work in the construction industry, which I had not been familiar with until then.
Being a passionate connoisseur of lyrical art, my path led me to the London Philharmonic Orchestra. After a while, I had a meeting with the director, who informed me that they were opening a position for competition. Everything aligned so favorably for me that I not only won the position but also worked for 3 years at the London Philharmonic Orchestra.
So, 20 years ago, I was in the UK, I was an entrepreneur in the construction industry, and at the same time, a student. The years have passed quite quickly, beautifully, and with many accomplishments.
How did you manage to transition from the artistic field to the business world?
While in London, I directed my attention towards the construction industry, with my brother working alongside me. As progress was rapid, we expanded, and with increased responsibilities, I decided to give up music in favor of business. It is well-known that you cannot do anything properly if you are only half-dedicated, and music is no exception. With this mindset, we built a solid business.
In 2005, I returned home for good and laid the foundation for our first tourist complex in the Bucovina region, in the town of Gura Humorului. This was the Toaca Domain, spread over several hectares, consisting of two hotels on the same property and an events hall known as “7 Izvoare Toaca Events.”
Toaca Bellevue Hotel is located on the highest plateau in the town of Gura Humorului, with a panoramic view of the surroundings and the ski slope.
After 7 years, by chance, I climbed to the peak of Rarău in the mountain range of the same name, where I was impressed by the beauty and wonders created by God for all of us. There, I noticed a dilapidated, abandoned cabin, which saddened me. At that moment, I felt a strong desire to transform that place, making it worthy of Bucovina, honoring the region and Romania.
We made extensive investments in completely refurbishing the cabin, renovating the rooms, parking, kitchen, restaurant, and the list goes on. From this perspective, Alpin Rarău Hotel, with a history spanning over 100 years, was developed by us in such a way that it transformed from a simple cabin into a true hotel. At present, the hotel has a capacity of 94 accommodation places distributed over 6 levels.
Alpin Rarău Hotel is situated in the heart of Bucovina, at an altitude of over 1500 meters, at the foothills of the famous “Pietrele Doamnei” (The Lady’s Stones). Completely modernized, the hotel offers rooms and apartments built to high standards, a restaurant with traditional and game specialties, a grill terrace, a terrace with fresh trout products from our own trout farm, and, of course, an unforgettable view.
The next passion project is the third complex we are currently working on. It is located in the Voroneț area, very close to the iconic Voroneț Monastery. With God’s help, we plan to inaugurate it in 2024. This hotel features a restaurant and two pools, and what sets it apart is the balneotherapy area. All of this was made possible with God’s help, careful planning, and a competent team of specialists alongside me.
What other passion projects do you have in progress?
First, I should mention that I was born in the commune of Cornu-Luncii, in the village of Brăiești. Therefore, I especially want to revive the traditional taste of the area through dishes and products made according to authentic recipes. We are already producing such products, and the next objective is to open three new locations (in our venues), specifically targeting tourists passing through Bucovina.
In addition to my activities in the hospitality industry, I inherited my passion for agriculture, animal husbandry, and livestock breeding from my parents. Currently, I am a breeder of sheep for meat and milk, as well as cattle for milk and meat. I value this sector because I believe that everything begins with working the land.
You are a successful businessman with extensive experience in the hospitality sector. What kind of preparation was necessary to reach this level?
Over the years, I have taken several courses in the hospitality sector. I wanted to put my acquired knowledge into practice, and in this regard, I worked in the Brasov area to gain an understanding of how this sector operates from the inside. For more than a month and a half, I learned through practical application. I firmly believe that until you feel and understand the hospitality industry, you cannot achieve excellence. I had a similar experience abroad when, without notifying anyone, I worked in Spain, where my main goal was to see how things were handled outside our country.
The conclusion I reached after these experiences is that Romanians approach difficult problems ingeniously, but the biggest challenge is the labor shortage. After all these experiences, I realized that it was necessary to take things to a new level, so I enrolled in a master’s program in tourism, taught in English. This English-language master’s program meets the need to acquire tourism competencies aligned with international standards, competencies that I use in my current work.
For me, success means dedicating yourself with passion and love to everything you do, always trying to see the positive side of things.
What advice would you give to young entrepreneurs?
I believe that the first step on the path to success is discovering one’s own vocation. I recommend that young people explore as many diverse fields as possible from a young age by participating in courses, practicing sports, and engaging in artistic activities such as music or painting.
With over two decades of experience working with people and numerous encounters with young people, I can say with a clear conscience that Romania is a country of opportunities that deserves to be explored and capitalized on. After working for so many years, I have seen many young people choose to build their careers abroad or stay abroad permanently, and apparently, I did the same up to a point. It is true that the world is vast and filled with fascinating places, but Romania undeniably has its own treasures waiting to be discovered and utilized.
First and foremost, I believe that our country is a top destination for investments. Nobody should underestimate the power of innovation and technology that can be implemented here.
We, Romanians, are known for our hospitality, for being open to new things, for helping each other to grow. Romania is a country with an impressive cultural and natural heritage. I want to encourage young people to see Romania again as a destination for the future. I am convinced that here they can find opportunities to develop and fulfill their dreams. Romania needs enthusiastic and innovative young people to become an even better country or, perhaps, most importantly, to bring our brothers and sisters from the diaspora back home. So, never forget that endless opportunities await you in Romania!
How do you manage to balance your professional life with your family life?
Maintaining the balance between professional and family life is often a challenge for many entrepreneurs. In my case, the secret lies in good organization and efficient delegation. I have managed to build a valuable team of specialists. I strongly believe that a successful leader is not just someone who gives orders but rather someone who builds a team around them that values, supports, and respects them.