Creating memorable experiences tailored to the needs of attendees is more than just a trend, and Barcelo Hotel Group and Melia Hotels & Resorts have made significant investments in brand restructures that will deliver even more options to planners.
Barcelo Hotel Group
A complete restructuring not only gave Barcelo an increased footprint in Latin America, but introduced three new brands to its collection: Royal Hideaway Luxury Hotels & Resorts, Occidental Hotels & Resorts and Allegro Hotels. The revamp also included an investment of $120 million in renovations, mostly to the properties that were previously a part of the Occidental Hotels & Resorts chain. One of the most noteworthy renovations happened at the iconic El Embajador, a Royal Hideaway Hotel in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. The hotel was once a hot spot for actors and celebrities, and the renovation will return it to its former glory.
“With this new strategy, we offer a more tailored experience at each of our resorts, along with a higher level of service,” says Juan Perez, senior VP of sales and marketing for Barcelo Hotel Group. “The depth of choices now available to meeting planners has grown exponentially.” Cultural activities abound at Barcelo’s properties. Traditional bachata dance lessons and trips to local rum and cigar factories happen at the Barcelo Bavaro Grand Resort.
Attendees at the Occidental at Xcaret Destination can enjoy complimentary trajinera (riverboat) rides to the adjacent eco-archeological Xcaret Park. Set within an ecological preserve, there are also authentic Mayan ruins on-site, and groups can partake in a Mayan sunset ceremony every evening.
At the Barcelo Maya Grand Resort, Spanish language classes and Mayan coffee demonstrations are on the agenda, and attendees receive a rare bottle of Xtabentun (a locally made anise liqueur) in their rooms. “Experiential tourism is not necessarily a new trend, but it is one that continues to shape the meetings industry,” says Perez. “Creating meaningful, memorable experiences is a key focus for Barcelo Hotel Group and we’re now able to offer a more diverse range of distinctive meetings experiences through our four hotel and resort brands.”
Melia Hotels & Resorts
On Palma, Spain’s, Paseo Maritimo seafront, the new Palau de Congressos de Palma (convention center) and its adjoining hotel, the 268-room Melia Palma Bay, opened this year. The hotel boasts a rooftop terrace and swimming pool, facilities for wellness and an exclusive service called The Level, with 53 rooms and a VIP lounge.
“The latest MICE trends we’re seeing are all about technology, adding state-of-the-art equipment into our meeting space and creating large white walls that can be used for video mapping,” says John Iannini, VP of meetings and events, America, at Melia Hotels International. “Our new interactive group sales space in Paradisus Los Cabos allows attendees to experience an interactive resort map that ‘throws’ images onto a 70” screen for virtual viewing before their actual site visit.”
The Gran Melia Puerto Rico will soon rebrand as the Melia Coco Beach and undergo extensive renovations, including a F&B revamp and refurbished convention center with state-of-the-art technology. The property will also upgrade 120 of its rooms to The Level, including a private lounge and six pool garden villas.
“The resort is their oyster. Groups can work in and customize any space on the property for their needs,” says Iannini. “We have also had a high success rate with group buyouts of resorts in the Caribbean.”