Meliá Hotels: Spanish Hospitality & Affordable Luxury are a Hit with U.S. Planners

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Gran Melia Rome

Gran Meliá Rome

For U.S.-based planners, the three relevant Meliá Hotels brands are Gran Meliá Hotels & Resorts, Paradisus Resorts and ME by Meliá. The Spanish hotel group is exceedingly popular in Europe, Mexico and the Caribbean, and it has always placed a priority on the corporate group market.

We spoke with John Iannini, CTC/CIS, senior director of sales for meetings & events in Atlanta, to see what’s shaping up in the upscale travel arena. He spoke about the unique voice of each brand and what types of U.S. groups they attract, beginning with Gran Meliá.

“Gran Meliá hotels are our traditional hotel products,” says Iannini. “It’s a brand that resonates strong with corporate groups from the USA or overseas because of our luxurious but affordable accommodations.”

The 110-room Gran Meliá Rome Villa Agrippina opened last year within walking distance to the Vatican. It has 110 rooms and Iannini says it’s a stellar experience for small groups. For larger groups, check out the 201-room Gran Meliá Don Pepe in Marbella, Spain.

“It’s an exotic beachfront resort that gets a lot of group business from the U.S. and Europe,” says Iannini. “Also, the Gran Meliá Palacio de Isora (Canary Islands) is a resort that we opened about four years ago with two ballrooms. For groups looking for a little bit of cachet, this is the property to choose. We are a Spanish company, so it’s a much more authentic experience.”


On the incentive side, the all-inclusive Paradisus Resorts was an early adopter of the luxury all-inclusive concept and the VIP hotel-within-a-hotel concept. Their “Royal Service” rooms at all of the resorts feature private check-in, pools, restaurants, lounges and high-end room amenities and furnishings.

We especially like the food.

“Within the Paradisus brand, what really sets us apart with our hotels is our gastronomy,” says Iannini. “We educate the customer on our dining style; it’s not typical buffet-style cuisine. There are 10-14 restaurants on each property and each has its own entrance, look and feel. The cuisine is so important to us. We do seasonable menus and the environment goes with the cuisine that you are eating.”

Paradisus has also partnered with Michelin 3-star chef Martin Berasategui, who’s branded four restaurants so far in Mexico and the Dominican Republic.

“It’s on a very exclusive basis for groups,” says Iannini, explaining that planners can incorporate them into dinearounds. He adds that the North American feeder markets make up over 70% of group business at Paradisus.


This is a brand that shouts its edgy style and hipness from the rooftops for various budgets, ranging from ME Cancun to the brand new ME London.

“The ME brand is our experiential brand,” says Iannini. “It’s the brand that resonates with groups that like to work hard and play hard…. We see a lot of corporate business from the entertainment and music industry. What’s important to the ME brand is that there’s a lot of connectivity between property and the guest rooms.”

Iannini explains that the ME experience is “very trendy in design” with a great mix of visitors and locals in the bars, restaurants and pools. It’s a huge trend among Millennial attendees who seek a hyperlocal, authentic cultural experience above all else. And there’s no better way to achieve that than meeting with local residents in places they like to visit.

“We have guest DJ’s and a lot of entertainment,” says Iannini. “Groups always love to escape to those events in between meetings.”


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