This year will be an exciting one for Meliá Hotels International (MHI), Europe’s third largest and Spain’s leading hotel company, with a pipeline of 18 scheduled openings, including MHI’s first state-of-the-art sustainable hotel, Meliá Serengeti Lodge.
Founded in 1956, MHI has grown from one hotel in Mallorca to an international company boasting more than 375 properties in 42 countries worldwide.
Melia Doha is now open, Innside Doha will open in third quarter of this year and ME by Melia will open in Doha in 2019. Apart from the successful Melia Dubai, the brand is quite keen on its early 2018 project ME Dubai, designed by the late Zaha Hadid. An interesting seaside resort in Iran is on the cards, two hours away from Tehran on the Caspian Sea, and meant almost entirely to cater to locals.
On the sidelines of ILTM Cannes, TTN spoke to Enrique Ortiz, regional vice-president EMEA, for more insight into its Middle East plans.
ME Dubai will have 100 rooms and 14 outlets. How do you plan to make that work in a city that already has a legendary food and beverage scenario?
We are in the last phase of the development of the food and beverage part of the hotel. We want that hotel to become the epicenter of Dubai, DIFC is a good reference, where there are so many restaurants and bars. One day you experience one restaurant and another day you try something else. I cannot disclose the names yet, since we haven’t signed contracts but I can promise that like in London, we will bring the top brands. As a brand, ME seeks out the top speciality restaurants around the world. One of them will definitely be Michelin starred. Three of them will be operated by the hotel and the others will be operators.
ME Dubai, slated for an early 2018 opening, is a special project for the company and the Arab world. Situated in the striking Opus building, ME Dubai will be located at the heart of the up-and-coming Burj Khalifa District. Designed by the late Zaha Hadid, the hotel will become an architectural icon in the Dubai skyline.
ME Dubai was Zaha Hadid’s first project in which she designed all of the interiors and exteriors to showcase her vision of interconnectedness. The hotel will boast 100 guest rooms and suites, exclusive international food and beverage outlets, serviced apartments, a rooftop bar and wellness centre.
Size of the room?
The smallest room is 40 sq m, which is much bigger than what you get in Burj Khalifa area.
Learnings from Melia Dubai?
We have learnt the importance and relevance of GCC market. When we started out in Dubai, we didn’t have the experience of these markets. We have had many clients coming to our properties in Europe and we have learnt over time, about aspects of culture and religion.
Another aspect is about retaining talent. In Europe and America, staff are very loyal to us and very engaged, but here in the Middle East there is a lot of competition. But we are giving our staff great opportunity, for example staff at Melia Dubai are waiting for opportunity to move to ME Dubai.
What are the plans for your Innside brand?
Innside Doha will be the first Innside in the Middle East. Innside has more potential of growth in the coming five years. We see 100 Innsides in the next five years. In the Middle East, we have one in Doha and Dubai. It is more of an urban concept so we will look to open in every capital city in the GCC.
Is there a chance of a resort in the Middle East?
Why not? We have been managing our operations from Europe, but little by little we are empowering the team to manage the operations locally. We see the opening of ME Dubai as a huge opportunity for our growth. It will change the image of our brand in the region.
Gran Melia Hotel in Iran…
Meliá Hotels International has announced its entry into the Iranian market with the first five-star branded hotel, which will be managed by an international hotel company, Gran Meliá Ghoo Hotel. The property will be located in the largest mixed residential, commercial and hotel complex to be developed in Iran, which is currently being built in Salman Shahr, a popular holiday destination on the Caspian Sea. The property is good for weekend breaks. About 99 per cent of the customers will be from the home market.
The owner is one of the most established and inspiring businessmen in the Iranian carpet industry. We are a family-run business as well, and it works perfectly for us to build relationships with owners of hotels. We like these kind of adventures, going to new places. In other international hotels, you talk to an executive, but in our case, you talk to the actual owner. And that makes a lot of difference.
By Rashi Sen
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