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Hotels & resorts
Rupert Murray
020 7921 8010
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Sol Melia bids to bolster
brand with luxury hotel
Spanish hotel operator Sol Melia wants its brand to emerge from the shadows of its tour operator
partners. Rupert Murray reports from its newest and most luxurious property in Tenerife
he Sol Melia group faces two major Sol Melias. This is just lesson one among many
challenges: the global economy to be taught to the UK trade in coming months.
and the lack of understanding of its Cortizas says he places great importance on
brands outside Spain. educating the trade through fam trips, training
Until the recent crisis in the world economy and roadshows. His priority is the luxury sector,
the group was very clear about its number one widely regarded as recession-proof. The group’s
priority – enhancing the brand’s reputation. upmarket offering is split into Gran Melia
It is a little odd perhaps that a 52-year-old Hotels & Resorts, ME by Melia and Paradisus.
company in whose hotels Brits have been
staying in their thousands for many years has Tenerife template
so little brand presence in the UK. The most recent addition to the Gran Melia
It is the 12th-largest hotel group in the world brand is in Tenerife: the Palacia de Isora. A
and the largest hotel resort great deal of time, effort and
group in the world, with 315
Sol Melia brands
money was spent on this
properties in 30 countries. hotel, which launched in July,
So why do British travel ■ Gran Melia Hotels & Resorts and the group considers it to
agents and consumers not ■ Paradisus Resorts be the flagship for the Gran
know Sol Melia better? ■ ME by Melia Melia brand – a showcase of
Marketing vice-president ■ Melia Hotels & Resorts what is to come.
Tony Cortizas feels the role of ■ Innside Premium Hotels Next year Shanghai and
tour operators has been a ■ Tryp Hotels Crete will become home to
significant factor. ■ Sol Hotels the next two Gran Melias,
“The operators were left ■ Sol Melia Vacation Club and Cortizas promises they
to carry the message to will be impressive properties.
“Operators will
agents and the consumers The family business, which
continue to be
themselves, and they put their own brand was started by Gabriel Escarrer Julia in 1956 at
first,” he explained. “This has resulted in our the tender age of 21, still relies heavily on the
important to us, but
individual brands being lost. Operators are very Spanish, UK and German markets, in that order,
they have messed
important partners and will continue to be, but with Russia growing quickly.
they have messed up our branding.” Cortizas says finding new customers as well
up our branding”
as welcoming the old ones is key at a time of
Tony Cortizas
Brand building economic uncertainty.
The former Sandals man said Sol Melia had now Last month Sol Melia revealed its profits for
taken up the fight for brand clarity itself so that the first nine months of 2008 were down 41.7% Some tightening of belts and a more cautious
in future travel agents and the general public on the same period in 2007 at ¤80 million. approach to expansion is hardly surprising in
know what it means to stay in one of their Sol Melia blamed the drop on the strength of times like these.
various brands of hotel. the euro, the bankruptcy of UK operators and But the Palacia de Isora signals a bold long-
Perhaps the most widespread misconception various airlines, and the general state of the term approach to brand building and an inten-
is that there is such a thing as a Sol Melia hotel. world economy. The group has been forced to tion to introduce a level of luxury unparalleled
There are Sol hotels and Melia hotels but no rein back its programme of upgrades. in the company’s half-a-century history.
30 05.12.2008
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