CEO Today - March 2022

TRAVEL & LIFESTYLE 114 long period of growth. Having said that, the changes produced in society and the travellers’ habits and expectations will make it critical for companies to adapt to the new ecosystem: more sustainable companies and destinations and digital immersion, not only regarding digital distribution, sales and marketing, but creating a digital or hybrid guest experience at the hotels as well. I also think that travellers will demand brands that have “soul” and strong links with destinations too. To be ready for these post-COVID challenges, Meliá Hotels International has been working throughout the pandemic crisis in adapting our strategy, leveraging on its high degree of digitisation and its leadership in distribution, implementing a more digital and efficient operating model and strengthening our sustainable strategy & performance. Currently, we have launched our roadmap towards recovery, which also focus on more flexible growth, enhancing our management and franchise models and creating a value proposal to add independent hotels and small hotel chains to our portfolio, by providing not only a strong management system and distribution but also new branding solutions such as the “Affiliated by Melia” hotels or the “Meliá Collection”. Normally after major crises, there is a consolidation in the market, and we certainly believe that at this time there are many opportunities for alliances and for new forms of cooperation, through which independent hotels or small family groups can benefit from competitive advantages of the big chains like Meliá. Meliá Hotels International’s expansion plans are very exciting – please tell us more about them. After two years of slowdown in hotel openings, due to the general delay in the new hotel projects brought up by the COVID crisis, our company has announced more than a dozen new openings for this year, mostly in resort destinations, with a special focus on the Mediterranean area, the Caribbean and Southeast Asia. Expansion will continue to be another of the company’s great strengths in 2022. Despite the pandemic, the company managed to sign agreements for 21 new hotels and open 13 hotels in 2021, including such iconic hotels as the new ME Barcelona. In 2022, it expects to continue to grow, including thementionedParadisus PlayaMujeres in Mexico, the Gran Melia Zhengzhou (its seventh hotel in China), the Gran Melia Nha Trang (Vietnam), the Melia Chiang Mai (Thailand), the Melia Trinidad Peninsula (Cuba), the Sol Marina and Blue Sea Beach Affiliated by Meliá (both in Crete in Greece), or the Hotel Las Arenas Affiliated by Meliá (Benalmádena, Spain), among others. “All of them - said Escarrer -

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