When we last spoke to Maria Zarraluqui, global development managing director for Meliá Hotels International, last year, ahead of the International Hotel Investment Forum (IHIF) in Berlin, she underscored the big plans for the Spanish hotel chain, including openings in New York and Miami, among other global cities.
For 2016, Zarraluqui said growth would continue to grow in capitals and major cities in Europe, the Middle East and Latin America, "and will fuel growth in resort areas and leisure destinations.
"The goal of development is also to increase our portfolio growth as a lever to generate brand recognition—that is why we are convinced that the openings of Innside New York and ME Miami will be key to our growth in the U.S. and will increase our brand awareness also for our Caribbean properties. We are confident that our track record and know-how on mature resort destinations needs to go a step forward and we expect to operate the first Paradisus, the all-inclusive experience now only in the Caribbean, in Southeast Asia, as well as introduce our Sol brand, which has been highly successful in the Mediterranean, Caribbean and Southeast Asia."
She added that Meliá is currently focused on an asset-light strategy, "structured around a development plan through low-intensive capital formulas, enabling Meliá to become a management company and owner of specific core assets, thanks to strengthening the positioning in the upscale segment or by exposure to high-growth markets."
At the time we spoke to Zarraluqui, she was readying herself to take part on a resorts-focused panel at IHIF. Here's what she had to say about the resorts market at the time. "After some complicated years in Europe for the Mediterranean economies, many resort areas haven’t been able to invest in their assets to keep satisfying their clients. At Meliá, we learned that the resort concept, considered a commodity, needed to be transformed to today's traveler expectations. The transformation had to be dramatic in design, technology, service and experiences. This is the idea behind the evolution of our Sol brand and the creation of the four concepts that suit everybody’s kind of holidays (families with children, families with teenager or even the adults-only experience). This powerful idea and proven record gained us the trust of partners, such as London Regional, Avenue Capital and Starwood Capital, who, together with Meliá, converted and renovated more than 10 of our assets that after rebranding changed their performances figures completely."
2017 should prove to be another vigorous year of expansion for Meliá, touting a pipeline of 18 scheduled openings, including Meliá's first sustainable hotel, Meliá Serengeti Lodge.
Here's a rundown by region:
Gran Meliá Nacional Rio, Brazil (December 2016)
Gran Meliá Nacional Rio will be Gran Meliá's first luxury hotel to launch in Brazil. The hotel will be located in Rio de Janeiro's Sao Conrado neighborhood. the hotel is one of the most anticipated hotel openings in South America. The property was originally built in 1972, and the famous 'Hotel Nacional' will re-open as the flagship property for the Gran Meliá brand.
Paradisus Los Cabos, Mexico (Q1 2017)
Meliá Cabo Real will be converted into Paradisus Los Cabos in a renovation that will see the existing property converted and upgraded. Paradisus Los Cabos will be set on 14.5 acres surrounded by a private golf course (Cabo Real Golf Course), and 25 minutes from San Jose del Cabo International Airport. The resort, the ninth in Paradisus by Meliá's portfolio, will have 350 rooms and suites.
Meliá Cartagena de Indias, Colombia (Spring 2017)
This will be Meliá's fourth hotel in Colombia. The Meliá Cartagena de Indias is an adults-only resort, and will have 154 rooms and suites and a Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course.
INNSIDE Doha, Qatar (Q3 2017)
INNSIDE Doha will be next to the new Qatar National Museum, new Doha Metro station, government and commercial offices, with views of the West Bay skyline and within easy access to Doha's Hamad international Airport. The hotel will have 192 rooms.
Gran Meliá Huravee, Maldives (Q4 2017)
Gran Meliá Huravee will be located on the island of Kalhudiyafushi, 40 minutes from Male International Airport. The hotel will have 95 private villas and 100 rooms, three restaurants, a bar and café, spa facilities, sports centre and several shops.
ME Dubai, Dubai (Early 2018)
Situated in the Opus building, ME Dubai will be located at the heart of the Burj Khalifa District. The hotel is special as it was designed by the late Zaha Hadid. It was Hadid's first project in which she designed all of the interiors and exteriors "to showcase her vision of interconnectedness." The hotel will have 100 guestrooms and suites, a rooftop bar and wellness center.
Meliá Serengeti Lodge, Tanzania (Q3 2017)
Meliá Serengeti Lodge will be Meliá's first sustainable hotel. It will be located on the natural terraces on the southern slopes of Nyamuma, with views overlooking the Mbalageti River. The hotel will be situated in the Serengeti National Park and have 50 rooms, communal lounge areas and restaurants with views of the infinity pool and Serengeti National Park.
Sol Beach House Phu Quoc, Vietnam (December 2016)
Sol Beach House Phu Quoc will be the first Sol Hotels & Resorts property to launch in Vietnam, 15 minutes from Phu Quoc International Airport.
The resort will offer 284 rooms, all boasting private balconies.
Meliá Shanghai Hongqiao, China (Q1 2017)
Meliá Shanghai Hongqiao will be part of an urban complex that will feature a wide range of commercial and entertainment facilities, dining outlets, green areas and high-end residential villas. The hotel will be situated in Hongqiao, an area expected to become the new centre of west Shanghai and a business hub for the Yangze River Delta region. Additionally, the hotel will be near the world's largest exhibition complex, the National Convention. The hotel will have 190 rooms.
EUROPE INNSIDE Glasgow, United Kingdom (Q4 2017)
INNSIDE Glasgow will be located in the old British Telecom headquarters. The building will be converted into a hotel with 175 rooms, restaurant and bar, meeting rooms, wellness centre and car park. The hotel will be situated on Argyle Street, near Central Station.