“We want the Canadian market to know us a little bit better than they do,” Tony Cortizas, vice-president of global brand strategy of Meliá Hotels International told PAX at a luncheon hosted by the hotel chain at Toronto's Sassafraz restaurant last Friday (July 15).
The event, which welcomed two dozen travel and lifestyle media, was held to celebrate Meliá Hotels’ 60th anniversary and announce some of the company’s future plans for expansion.
Most importantly, for Cortizas, who is based in Palma, Majorca, Spain, the afternoon was an opportunity to educate travel press about the Meliá brand, which, he admitted, is “something of an unknown entity” in Canadian circles.
“We really wanted to come to Canada and share a bigger and broader story about the company,” Cortizas told PAX.
Meliá Hotels International is one of Spain’s largest hotel operators, currently overseeing 374 hotels in 40 countries on four continents under the brands Meliá, Gran Meliá, ME by Meliá, Paradisus, Innside by Meliá, TRYP by Wyndham, Sol Hotels and Club Meliá.
The chain was founded by in 1956 by Gabriel Escarrer Juliá in Palma, Majorca, where the company’s headquarters are still located today.
“We are geographically diverse – much more than anybody realizes,” Cortizas said. “We have most of Europe and a lot of Caribbean destinations to offer.”
Meliá Berlin in Berlin, Germany (source: melia.com)
Meliá is currently taking its brand to new heights with the launch of 25 new hotels in 15 different countries, adding 6,000 new rooms to its portfolio by the end of 2016.
“We’re not the cheapest, but we really do offer an excellent value when you take into consideration in what we deliver to guests,” Cortizas told PAX, later noting how the emergence of Airbnb, though an industry challenge, gives hotels, like Meliá, an opportunity to rise above by offering guests unforgettable experiences.
“When all you do is offer rooms for rent, you have a problem,” Cortizas said. The key to survival in today’s challenging hotel industry is to offer guests a “lifestyle experience,” and two of Meliá’s brands are solely devoted to delivering just that.
ME by Meliá, for example, offers guest a personalized experience that revolves around art, music, design, rooftop bars and trendy restaurants.
Innside by Meliá, similarly, aims to be the authority on destinations, offering millennial and business travellers experiences based on the amount of time they have to explore with city guides and local restaurant and bar suggestions.
The beauty of Meliá’s brands, said Cortizas, is that, “Not one size fits all. We’re quite diverse.” The takeaway? “Brands matter,” Cortizas emphasized.
Meliá Paradisus in Varadero, Cuba (source: melia.com)
By next year, Meliá plans to add a new Paradisus hotel, five new Grand Meliá properties and seven new ME hotels in its luxury portfolio and 25 Meliá properties and 21 Innside hotels in its upscale category.
Upcoming 2017 locations include Cabo San Lucas, Caracas, Thailand, Bali and, notably, the brand’s first five-star property in Iran with the opening of a Grand Meliá property on the Caspian Sea.
And Cortizas is keen on having Canada’s travel trade involved every step of the way. “Travel agents will always be a key part of our strategy,” Cortizas told PAX.
Agents can learn more about Meliá through Meliá Pro, the company’s travel agent portal, which offers a booking platform, training modules, instant commissions and other agent incentives.
For more on Meliá Hotels International visit melia.com.