ACAPULCO, Mexico -- Sol Melia Hotels unveiled plans to boost its
presence in Mexico as part of an ambitious expansion program.
The plan, announced at the 23rd annual Tianguis Turistico trade
show and marketplace, held here in April, calls for an investment
of more than $500 million and encompasses three new resorts in Los
Cabos, Ixtapa and the Cancun-Tulum corridor; a new business hotel
in Mexico City; a new brand in Puerto Vallarta, and expansion and
renovation programs at its existing properties.
"Mexico represents major opportunities for Melia. There is
tremendous growth potential and demand for Mexico," said Emmanuel
Schreibmaier, vice president of sales and marketing for Sol Melia's
Americas division. "Our strategy is clearly to expand and offer
more products for both business and leisure markets."
The first installment under Sol Melia's expansion plan was the
opening last month of Melia Los Cabos All Suite Beach & Golf
Resort, the firm's third property in Los Cabos.
The 150-suite resort joins Melia Cabo Real, next door, and Melia
San Lucas, located in Cabo San Lucas.
The new Los Cabos resort, which sits in the booming corridor
region of the destination, mainly targets golfers and families,
Schreibmaier said, adding that some of the property's biggest
selling points are its easy access to the wealth of golf courses in
the area and spacious suites, the smallest about 560 square feet in
The property aims to set itself apart by offering an upscale,
boutique-oriented atmosphere, John Riba, director general of the
Nightly rates at the new Melia Los Cabos range from $205 to $600
during low season and from $245 to $670 during high season.
The next resort to open under Sol Melia's expansion program will
be Melia Azul Ixtapa, the firm's first property in Ixtapa.
Plans call for a total of 720 guest rooms at the property, but
the first phase of the project, which is scheduled to open at the
end of this year, will contain 320 rooms.
"We believe strongly in Ixtapa as a future destination in
Mexico," said Faustino Martinez, director of Mexico for Sol Melia's
As the biggest problem in attracting visitors to Ixtapa has been
lack of airlift, Schreibmaier said, Sol Melia was in discussions
with a number of airlines during Tianguis, and plans are in place
to boost service.
On that front, Alaska Airlines is among the carriers planning on
augmenting service to Ixtapa. At Tianguis, Alaska Air negotiated a
deal to increase its Los Angeles-Ixtapa service from four times a
week to a daily schedule.
In the Cancun-Tulum corridor, Sol Melia recently broke ground on
the 450-room Paradisus Tulum All-Inclusive Beach Resort. The
property is located in Xca Chel, about 35 miles south of Cancun's
airport, and is expected to open by 2000.
Although specific details are not yet available, Schreibmaier
said the resort will take full advantage of its setting in an
ecological zone in terms of design and offerings for guests.
Aside from the new resorts, Sol Melia is planning to enter the
Mexico City market.
The company currently is in negotiations to add a hotel in
Mexico City geared toward business travelers. The property, to be
built on Avenida Reforma, will have approximately 600 rooms and is
expected to open by 2000.
As part of its ambitious expansion plan, Sol Melia rebranded its
Melia Puerto Vallarta property as an inclusive, the third Melia
property in four years to adopt the concept.
Beyond new projects, Sol Melia turned an eye toward upholding
its position in the marketplace by augmenting existing
An aggressive refurbishment program includes a project at Melia
Cancun, which, according to Schreibmaier, calls for "the addition
of the largest facility for conventions and groups in the
Caribbean." That project is expected to start in two months and be
completed by the end of 1999.
Other properties slated for renovations and expansion are the
Melia Turquesa in Cancun, and Melia Cabo Real and Melia San Lucas,
both in Los Cabos.
Schreibmaier said the initiatives will enable Sol Melia to
diversify its product line and capture its share of emerging
markets. "We are committed to growing in Mexico and creating new
markets," he said, citing golf and incentive segments as important
Schreibmaier said a main marketing goal of Sol Melia is to
become one of the five major players worldwide in the incentive
Sol Melia operates eight properties in Mexico under the Melia,
Paradisus and Sol brands. Locations include Los Cabos, Cancun,
Puerto Vallarta and Cozumel.
Sol Melia, Phone: (800) 33-MELIA