Meliá Hotels looks to the new year with optimism, although without neglecting prudence. The Escarrer family hotel chain has presented its growth prospects at Fitur, the international tourism fair that is being held this week in Madrid, where it has revealed a significant improvement in its objectives regarding new openings, which will be between 30 and 35 a year, compared to the 25 that had been done up to now. The consolidation of travel tourism and the return of executive activity are also coming to the fore in their commercial strategy, for which they will reinforce their presence in Latam, Vietnam and the Mediterranean, where they will also launch their alliance with tennis player Rafa Nadal.
Gabriel Escarrer, CEO of Meliá Hotels, ruled out suspicions of a recession in the sector and, on the contrary, was optimistic given the data that the company manages: “At the moment we are not seeing any symptoms, neither in consumption, nor in the appetite of trip, nor in fares”. So far they have 30% more reservations than last year for this first quarter, a figure that is 23% higher than that of 2019. To this we must add the increase in the average rate, which rises 7% year-on-year and that it is already 30% higher than before the pandemic.
The CEO of the chain said that a large part of this milestone is due to the recovery of convention tourism, which grows 30% over 2019 data. Hotels in Mexico and the Dominican Republic are the ones that are noticing this growth the most: after the pandemic and teleworking, companies want to promote a feeling of belonging, and they are choosing vacation hotels”, he assured in his speech. He also highlighted the success of congress tourism in cities such as Madrid, Palma de Mallorca, Seville and Barcelona, as well as other European capitals.
This, together with the return of tour operators and the recovery of air traffic, are encouraging early bookings. The inflationary situation is also altering the habits of travelers, who are now betting on controlling their spending more and looking for more ‘all-inclusive’ offers. As for markets, the British market is showing more dynamism than the German market, something that the chain blames on the consequences of the energy crisis on the German economy.
From 25 to 35 new hotels per year
This improvement in forecasts has accelerated the opening of new hotels, which if before the pandemic there were about 25 a year, that figure becomes the new minimum. Meliá’s forecast is to open between 30 and 35 hotels each year, counting on the fact that in 2022 they will already open 32 under the Meliá seal and this 2023 there are guaranteed 25 inaugurations. In the last twelve months they have signed a total of 33 operations that will provide 8,200 additional rooms over the next two years.
These include emblematic projects in the center of Milan or the opening of its first ME hotel in Malta, designed by the prestigious architect Zara Hadid. They will also expand their presence in the Middle East (Qatar and Saudi Arabia), several countries on the Mediterranean coast such as Albania or Croatia, and will extend their commitment to Africa, with openings in Tanzania or Cape Verde.
The purchase announcement of the old Rey Juan Carlos hotel in Barcelona will be continued with its imminent renovation. This includes the management of the Palacio de Congresos included in the complex, which will be operational before the summer and with which Meliá seeks to expand its offer and diversify its audiences. The hotel will be renovated and its opening will be gradual, although it will not do so before the end of this season. Superior 4-star category and will be complemented by the first urban resort in the city, the Miranda de Pedralbes, aimed at a public seeking more holiday experiences.
New brand with Rafael Nadal
During the presentation, more details of the new brands Falcon’s Resorts and Zel were also revealed, this second fruit of a ‘joint venture’ with the tennis player Rafael Nadal. The first already has a hotel in operation in the Dominican Republic and includes a theme park, leisure and shopping areas. For its part, the commitment to the Mallorcan athlete seeks to position Zel as a Mediterranean brand. It will open its first hotel this summer in Majorca, once the current INNSiDE Cala Blanca is renovated.
The collaboration with the tennis player represents an innovation in Meliá’s brand management, which for the first time will share ownership with the Nadal family. In the agreement, both parties have agreed to the division of the ‘royalties’ corresponding to their image. The commitments acquired imply reaching the figure of 20 establishments in 4 years, between new acquisitions and property reforms. The first of them will be located in Palmanova (Mallorca) and will be 4-star superior, with the intention of opening all year round and facilities dedicated to sports. The second will be in Mexico, with the location not yet revealed.
Escarrer has recognized that the new brands have had “an extraordinary progression in the market”. As an example, he gave the Meliá Collection, launched two years ago, which has added 9 hotels to its offer. For its part, the Affiliated by Meliá franchise network has incorporated a total of 79. Added to this are the renovations carried out during the pandemic years, which have made it possible to include concepts such as sustainability or the circular economy in its portfolio.
Proof of this has been the last hotel inaugurated on the island of Menorca, chosen to locate its first ‘zero emissions’ hotel. The Villa Le Blanc Gran Meliá reduces its emissions by 87% compared to any other, and the materials and products used in its redesign are from local suppliers. The firm has promised to reduce its emissions by 29% in 2025 and 71% by 2035 compared to 2018 data.
Vietnam and Latin America, key markets
Regarding its international presence, it will continue its expansion in Southeast Asia, especially in Vietnam, where it is already the second company in the country with 27 hotels and 7,800 rooms. Half of these, 14, were opened in 2022. This growth will not stop, as they hope to continue adding until they reach 36 in 2025. world: Seychelles.
The ‘Paradisus’ brand will debut in Europe with two new hotels in Gran Canaria and Lanzarote, scheduled to open in March and April, respectively. Tenerife will also debut the Innside Santa Cruz, a purely urban hotel located in a building previously occupied by El Corte Inglés.