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by Deanna Ting | March 27, 2014
Mallorca, Spain-based Melia Hotels International, the hotel company behind such brands as Gran Melia, Melia Hotels & Resorts, ME by Melia, and Paradisus Resorts, is looking to expand stateside. Earlier this week, the company announced that it will open its first property in New York City in 2016 and that property is only the beginning, says Denis Ebril, executive vice president of product development in North America for Melia Hotels International.

"Right now, Melia, as a company, has 350 hotels under various brands around the world, but we only have two [Melia Hotel Atlanta and the upcoming 313-room Innside Manhattan] in the U.S," said Ebril. "We're really trying to grow more properties in the U.S. now."

Melia's U.S. growth strategy, says Ebril, is targeted toward major gateway cities that include New York, Miami, and Los Angeles. He added that there's a possibility of also opening a ME by Melia property in Manhattan in the near future.

In the Caribbean, Ebril noted that the former Sheraton Nassau Beach in the Bahamas, a popular meeting property, has been rebranded as a Melia property, the Melia Nassau Beach. When the massive, multi-billion-dollar Baha Mar project is completed in the first quarter of 2015, Ebril said the hotel will be renamed as the Melia by Baha Mar.

Ebril added that the popularity of Melia's existing Caribbean properties, and their experiences in working with incentive groups, is also key to the company's overall growth strategy. "The incentive group business is one the most attractive segments of the market. We're trying to grow our relationships with planners and we are seeing lots of outbound business from the U.S. to our international locations."

Beyond North America and the Caribbean, Ebril says that Asia, especially China, Latin America, Europe, and the Middle East are key areas for new developments.