Sol Melia adds 10th property in Latin America expansion bid

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MEXICO CITY -- Sol Melia acquired its first Mexico City hotel as part of a larger growth initiative in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Sol Melia's first hotel in Mexico City. The Spanish hotel firm, which operates nine resort properties in Mexico's beach destinations under the Melia, Paradisus and Sol brands, purchased the former Crowne Plaza Reforma Hotel for $50 million in June and renamed the property the Melia Mexico Reforma.

The move is directly in line with Sol Melia's strategy to boost its presence in top Latin American cities, according

The move is directly in line with Sol Melia's strategy to boost its presence in top Latin American cities, according

to Emmanuel Schreibmaier, Sol Melia's vice president of sales and marketing for the Americas division.

"As a major commercial center, Mexico City was a perfect match to cover the capital cities of Latin America and [help Sol Melia to] become a truly global company," Schreibmaier said, adding that the firm has recently opened hotels in Buenos Aires, Argentina; Caracas, Venezuela, and Montevideo, Uruguay.

With Melia Mexico Reforma, Sol Melia increased its lineup in Mexico to 10 properties, the majority of which are resorts geared toward leisure travelers in Cancun, Cozumel, Ixtapa, Los Cabos and Puerto Vallarta.

Schreibmaier said the Mexico City property mainly will cater to business travelers and the meetings and incentives market, but the firm will try to develop leisure business for weekend stays.

"With our connections in the travel industry in the U.S., we are already benefiting," Schreibmaier said, adding that major operators such as Friendly, Funjet, Gogo and Travel Impressions are adding the Melia Mexico Reforma to their winter programs.

He also said U.S. agents are increasingly booking both leisure and business travelers, which bodes well for the new Mexico City hotel.

With Sol Melia's U.S. ties and strong name recognition in the U.S., Schreibmaier said the company expects to significantly boost American travel business at the property.

"Currently, only 18% of the client mix is American, but we can easily adjust this and increase the American share to at least 40%," he said.

The property, located on Reforma Avenue, is ideally situated for the business travel, meetings and incentives, and leisure travel markets, Schreibmaier added.

"It is close to the business center; Garibaldi Square, and the historic area of the city, which is going to be developed very nicely in the next couple of years," Schreibmaier said.

Starting rates, which will range from $90 to $150 per night, are competitive with hotels in the area and represent another attractive selling point, he added.

The five-star property, previously managed by Bass International under its Crowne Plaza brand, was in good shape when Sol Melia purchased it, according to Schreibmaier, but the company will invest about $2 million to enhance the overall appearance of the property over the next six months.

The renovation project entails refurbishing guest rooms, renovating public areas and redesigning restaurants.

Melia Mexico Reforma features 454 guest rooms, including 30 junior suites, four master suites and one presidential suite.

The property also has an executive floor with upgraded services and facilities.

For groups, the hotel is equipped with 22,000 square feet of conference and meeting space accommodating up to 800 people, a full range of audiovisual and videoconferencing equipment and a business center.

Other facilities include three restaurants, two bars, a fitness center and a shopping gallery.

Schreibmaier said Sol Melia is looking to further expand

its five-star Melia brand in other major Mexico cities, such as Guadalajara and Monterrey.

Sol Melia also plans to expand into Mexico's smaller cities with its four-star brand, Melia Confort, currently located in other Latin American cities such as Buenos Aires; Sao Paulo, Brazil; Montevideo, and San Jose, Costa Rica.

Elsewhere in Mexico, Sol Melia opened the 250-room Melia Ixtapa Azul inclusive resort earlier this year and plans to open the 450-room Paradisus Tulum in the Riviera Maya south of Cancun in 2000.

Schreibmaier said a convention center with a capacity for 1,200 people is expected to open at the Melia Cancun by mid-December, in addition to more than 100 new guest rooms.

Sol Melia
Phone: (800) 33-MELIA
Web: www.meliahotels.com

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