The Zel brand, led by Rafa Nadal, will have four new establishments: two in the Caribbean, one in Madrid and another in Costa Brava
MADRID, 23 Jan. (EUROPE PRESS) -
Meliá Hotels International is preparing for a very intense 2024. The strength of the tourism recovery, both national and international, and the return of markets such as Asia will lead the Spanish hotel company to boost the evolution of its business, with which it expects to open at least twenty hotels this year, around 4,000. rooms, half of them in the luxury segment.
The president and CEO of the Spanish hotel company confirmed in an interview with Europa Press that the Mediterranean Basin, the axis of the Caribbean, with special emphasis on Mexico and Cuba, and the Southeast Asian region will focus a large part of its growth this year 2024 It also anticipates intense growth in the Middle East region with a focus on two destinations: Saudi Arabia, where it has signed an agreement with the Tourism Development Fund (TDF) for the opening of three hotels, and Dubai.
The company confirms for the next twelve months the general recovery of international markets, especially highlighting the Asian markets, as well as the notable reactivation of the corporate and conference and events segments.
The Balearic hotel company, the largest Spanish chain by number of hotels with 400 establishments in operation or in the pipeline in more than 40 countries, is therefore preparing for a year 2024 of vigorous tourist recovery with no signs of slowdown and during which two of its most important brands highlights, Zel and Me, will have notable growth.
In the case of Zel, the hotel brand born in collaboration between the tennis player Rafa Nadal and the Balearic group Marca Zel, this year it will grow with four new hotels: two in the Caribbean area (Zel Sayulita and Zel Punta Cana) and another two in Spain: the Zel Madrid in the Gran Vía area and the Zel Tossa de Mar on the Costa Brava.
Another of the brands that will grow the most is Me, which plans to open at least four hotels this year: Me Malta, Me Sayulita, Me Guadalajara and Me Lisboa.
Also notable is the reopening of the Torre Melina, the former Juan Carlos I hotel, "which will be a milestone for Barcelona tourism", as well as the signing of a strategic alliance with Summum Hotel Group for the incorporation of two new Meliá Collections.
Escarrer assures that both brands are very attractive and different from those offered by competitors. "They have a very clear positioning and are brands that are highly in demand by both the public and investors," said the president of Meliá in an interview prior to Fitur, the tourism fair that will take place from January 24 to 28 in Madrid.
The hotel company's prospects for this year are quite optimistic taking into account the current reservations 'on books'. The recovery of the corporate and Mice segment is confirmed in a notable way, which registers a growth of 15% over the figures recorded a year ago, as well as the good figures for both occupancy and rates in areas of the Canary Islands, Cape Verde, and the Caribbean and Asia-Pacific.
The year 2023 was the year of recovery in turnover and Meliá trusts that 2024 will be the year of occupancy. The company's average rates are currently 30% above those recorded in 2019, although occupancy still remains four points below pre-covid figures.
This room for improvement would be concentrated above all in Germany, very affected last year by the energy crisis, Asia-Pacific, with a recovery in the Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Australian source markets, and Cuba, very dependent on Canadian tourists. "We anticipate that this year we already have very similar occupancy figures or even slightly above those we had in 2019," said the manager.
With all this, the forecast price increase for this year for the hotel company run by Gabriel Escarrer is in the mid-high single digit range.
Over the next few years, the company will maintain its commitment to the luxury and high-end segment by increasing the inventory of luxury hotels and superior rooms. The forecasts of the third largest hotel company in Europe are that a third of the openings planned for 2024-2025 will be concentrated in this segment.
"Meliá has been able to anticipate this growing demand for a higher level product, where the client increasingly demands services and experiences that are more adapted to their personal needs," said the manager, indicating that this superior service has led to a natural increase in prices. facing a repositioning and improvement of the product.
These numbers suggest that the goal of a gross operating result (Ebitda) of at least 475 million euros, committed by the group's president, Gabriel Escarrer, during his shareholders meeting, will be achieved, which means an increase of 10% the figure registered in 2022.
The company, which has recorded a 2% appreciation in its share price in the last year, also continues with the priority commitment to reduce debt through the generation of operating cash, as well as through other alternatives such as the sale of assets. .
Thus, it will take advantage of the tourism boom to grow hand in hand with investment partners in order to explore new growth opportunities under the 'asset light' (non-asset) model. This roadmap will allow it to enter new markets and strengthen itself in those where it is already present.
At this time, the company has reached an agreement in principle with the Mexican group Gaalata, currently subject to the approval of the competition authorities, by which it would take over 50% of the current Meliá Vallarta, which after a reconversion will begin to be operated under the Paradisus brand. This 50% participation amounts to 30 million dollars (about 27.5 million euros).
Escarrer has also highlighted that they will continue to prioritize their strengths in brand and experience innovation, vacation leadership, digitalization, international expansion and sustainability, keys to the resilience demonstrated by the company during the last year.
Meliá maintains its commitment not only to the competitive, qualitative and sustainable improvement of its hotels, but also advocates for a comprehensive transformation of destinations in terms of quality, profitability and sustainability.
To this end, it has been betting on the conversion of mature destinations for more than a decade and regrets that the European Next Generation funds have been dispersed "in a multitude of small actions with isolated impact", without the driving capacity and transformative potential of the economic model that required by the European funds mechanism itself.
Escarrer describes the Next Generation Funds as a "lost opportunity" for the sector since, in his opinion, the allocation of the 3,400 million has not had a transversal criterion in projects that developed a true strategy that promoted the improvement of quality, diversification and sustainability of the Spanish tourism offer.
"I believe that there is still time and possibilities for the remaining resources to be allocated in the most effective, strategic and transformative way, placing special emphasis on mature and pioneering destinations to which we have to guarantee their competitiveness during the coming years," he concluded. .
Meliá recorded an attributable net result of 95.9 million euros until September, which is 82.2% more than last year, while its income stood at 1,478.3 million, 16.1% more.