Meliá International is spreading its wings beyond its typical Spanish, Latin American and Caribbean roots to tap into the luxury market. With premium brands like Gran Meliá, ME by Meliá, The Meliá Collection, and Paradisus by Meliá, the Spanish company is poised to compete with the big hospitality names based on the other side of the Atlantic.
Americans, especially, will begin to see the Meliá name appear in more places, and with the Meliá Rewards loyalty program, they can take advantage of points and elite status privileges, too.
CEO Gabriel Escarrer explains how the Meliá brand is positioning itself on an upward trajectory to grow into and succeed within the luxury marketplace.
Why did Meliá decide to move from business and all-inclusive brands into the premium luxury space?
For many years, the company has been evolving, working hard to improve its positioning in customer experience, brand attributes, talent management and employee relations. Our current brand architecture includes four luxury names (Gran Meliá, ME by Meliá, The Meliá Collection and Paradisus by Meliá) and four premium brands, two of which are new.
Among the premium brands include the well-known Meliá Hotels & Resorts and Innside by Meliá, which has opened one of its first properties in New York. The two recently announced brands include Falcons Resorts by Meliá, jointly developed with global entertainment company Falcon’s Beyond, offering a one-of-a-kind “resortainment” hospitality experience and ZEL, jointly developed with tennis legend Rafael Nadal, to create a unique hospitality experience focused on classic Mediterranean character throughout various global destinations.
These new premium luxury segment brands already represent 65% of our total hotel and resort portfolio. After the pandemic, travelers are seeking more added value, exclusivity and personalized experiences, and this can only be delivered by high-end brands.
What challenges exist for opening new premium luxury hotels in today’s environment?
Differentiation is key. In today’s market, luxury and exclusivity no longer have one single meaning. Today, luxury is defined by freedom, space, nature and personalization. Melia’s vision of luxury meets diverse needs whether that’s a safari lodge in the Ngoronogoro or the Serengeti, an urban resort in Rome, or the brand’s first energy-efficient, carbon neutral resort in a Biosphere reserve like Menorca.
What do you believe customers are looking for when booking luxury hotels?
Traditionally, luxury travelers look for exclusivity and quality. Post-Covid customers are still looking for that, but now they are seeking more amenities in safety, more spacious offerings and hotels that are sustainable in their operations and offerings. They are also “traveling with purpose” and looking for certain values that provide a positive impact to the world, whether that be socially or environmentally.
Many of the luxury hotels in the portfolio are also part of The Leading Hotels of the World. This helps to elevate their standing in the market.
Are there any plans for the MeliáRewards Program?
Our priority for the more than 14.7 million MeliáRewards members is to strengthen engagement with them and find ways to improve their satisfaction. The brand is focused on consumer behavior and data trends, especially by building a closer relationship with top-value customers.
For example, within the latest brand Falcon’s Resort by Meliá, MeliaRewards members will soon be able to link their rewards points to BeyondME, a new fan loyalty and online game platform that will enable individuals of all ages to connect, personalize and be rewarded for their engagement across both digital and real-world experiences across the resort brand. Using the game platform, they earn experience points through different activities around the resort, which they can then redeem for discounts and upgrades. The new smart device is also something they wear and acts as a key to the room as well as the ability to charge things to the room, too.
Are there plans to expand more into the United States?
There is already a property in New York, INNSiDE New York NoMad. After the pandemic, the brand is refocusing efforts toward growth in the Caribbean and southeast Asia. The United States is not far behind as the brand can offer great value, especially in leisure markets.
What are some of the newest properties?
The most recent and significant luxury milestone is the opening of Villa Le Blanc, a Gran Meliá Hotel, in Menorca, Spain. Located on a biosphere reserve island, the hotel is an energy-efficient and carbon-neutral destination hotel, with the goal to serve as an international benchmark for environmentally friendly properties. It was built with an environmentally responsible design and architecture using energy-efficiency systems and processes like air-crossing and patios that avoid the use of air conditioning in common areas, fans in every room, photo-voltaic systems and biomass to produce green energy, geothermic for heating and a responsible waste management system.
The decarbonization project resulted in the hotel showing a lower emissions footprint by 87% compared to before. To support the community, the property doubled its staff island suppliers for food, retail, fashion and art.
You’ll also find the brand in Tanzania with The Meliá Collection Ngorongoro and Meliá Collection Serengeti Lodges, and another key growth in Paris, where two new additions include The Meliá Collection Maison Colbert and The Melia Collection Villa Marquis. There’s also the Palazzo Cordusio, a Gran Meliá Hotel in Milan, in one of the best-known Renaissance buildings in the city, plus two Spanish additions with Paradisus Salinas and Paradisus Gran Canaria, the product of a reconversion of pre-existing hotels on the islands of Lanzarote and Gran Canaria. This is a milestone expansion marking the all-inclusive Paradisus brand’s arrival to Spain.
Other scheduled openings for 2023 in the premium and luxury brands will be ME Malta, ME Lisbon, ME Guadalajara in Mexico, and Gran Meliá Nha Trang in Vietnam.
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