NEW YORK CITY — Aside from any one amenity, the main feature ME Cancun wanted to include in its resort when it officially launched its new all-inclusive plan January 1 was its existing customers.
Judging by some very positive preliminary feedback from repeat customers, coupled with strong occupancy projections for the next three months, its safe the say the Spanish hotel company has succeeded.
Travel Agent sat down Monday with Sol Melia Hotels & Resorts’ Tony Cortizas, vice president of marketing, and Alexander Hugot, who heads the company’s Europe division, and got the latest on ME Cancun’s transitions as well as the company’s other hot topics of late.
The company announced late last year it would launch the new plan at ME Cancun along with some new features.
So far, so good.
Cortizas said in November — when bookings were first being taken for the all inclusive plan — and December, occupancy ranged between 60 and 70 percent. He says, however, that January, when the resort officially celebrated the transition with a “rebirth” party, February and March are expected to be much higher. But the positive feedback from existing customers is what means the most to Cortizas.
“In essence, the perception of the existing customer was the most important thing,” Cortizas said, “and the feedback so far has been very strong."
The main reason for that, according to Cortizas, is that the property, unlike most all-inclusives, doesn’t think it is important to get caught up in what is included in the plan. Instead, ME Cancun’s all-inclusive business model, dubbed “Complete Me,” is a more flexible all-inclusive.
In fact, there will still be an EP aspect to the hotel, Cortizas said. Also, the restaurants will still be open to locals and tourists who aren't guests at the hotel at a cost. Cortizas says there was a “constant demand” for an all-inclusive plan at the hotel.
Although this isn’t expected to be a trend for other ME hotels, Hugot did note that if the company ever does consider it again, it could at least hang its hat on the fact that its first endeavor into the all-inclusive world was a success.
“It shows the possibility of being flexible,” Hugot said. “It opens up the possibilities for an expansive plan.”
ME Cancun's 419 rooms will now allow guests to choose from an array of packages as part of the new "Complete ME" concept. The hotel's basic offering will focus on traditional amenities found at all-inclusive resorts, such as unlimited food and beverage service, complimentary pool access, YHI Spa's fitness center, WiFi and all in-room amenities including iPod docking stations and more. Guest rooms on The Level, the hotel's premium collection of accommodations, will offer elevated privileges and amenities that will be part of The Level package. Here, guests will enjoy services such as private VIP check-in, exclusive use of the 10th floor's Living Room lounge, exclusive concierge services and 24-hour in-room dining at no extra cost.
Besides the ME Cancun news, the company’s busy year also included other announcements such as the upcoming opening of a “ME by Meliá” hotel in London just in time for the 2012 Olympics, the opening of a new Vienna property in 2013 and the opening of the company’s first U.S. hotel in Atlanta.
In September, Sol Meliá announced the Spanish chain will open an “ME by Meliá” hotel in London, in time for the 2012 Olympics. The second hotel for the Sol Meliá chain in the capital, the “ME by Meliá” property will reside in the City Bank building, formerly owned by Ania, a subsidiary of the BBVA bank. Situated next to Convent Garden and Trafalgar Square, the building has 10 room floors and four underground floors on a triangular piece of land that also once the site of Casa Marconi.
Designed by Norman Foster, British architect and winner of the Pritzker Prize for architecture, the hotel will have 157 rooms, a 730 m2 Convention Centre and a selection of restaurants and bars. Other features will include a "The Level" floor, as well as a lounge for leisure and business guests, with views of the city and a distrubtion of internal spaces.
“Art, music, culinary experiences. If these are the things you are looking for, then you come to this property,” said Hugot.
The rapidly expanding brand recently announced the ground breaking on their new ME Vienna hotel. Construction has already begun on the Austrian property that promises spectacular views of the Danube river. Designed by renowned French architect Dominique Perrault, ME Vienna will be located close to the UN headquarters and become the city’s newest visual landmark as the city’s tallest building. The 253-room resort is slated to open by 2013.
Lastly, ME Hotels’ parent company, Sol Melia, has officially landed in the United States with its first property on American soil, the Melia Atlanta. Formerly operated by Marriott as the Renaissance Atlanta Hotel Downtown, the 502-room property marks the beginning of Sol Melia’s strategy to develop additional properties in the continental U.S.
Located at the edge of Atlanta’s downtown business district, Melia Atlanta is perfectly suited for business travelers and leisure guests. The property will undergo a $35 million renovation that will be completed in 2013.