A Decade Of ME

It’s been 10 years since Meliá Hotels International first launched its successful lifestyle brand, ME, reports PressToday’s Ann Ruppenstein, in Spain for the celebrations, and who was told by the company’s Tony Cortizas that the initial concept was all about catering to the guests’ experience outside of the hotel room.

“The lifestyle idea is shrouded in mystery, but at the end of the day it’s kind of presenting a lodging experience that’s about anything but the rooms, really, because the rooms are functional, you must have a good one,” says Cortizas, the vice president, global brand strategy, at Meliá Hotels International, which has more than 370 hotels in 40 countries. “If you’re selling luxury, you must have all the quality linens and mattresses and service and everything that goes with that, but when it comes to lifestyle, this is much more an extension of how I want to live when I stay at a hotel.”

After creating an experiential hotel concept centred around a customer psychographic, Cortizas said the focus at ME was then on developing a level of natural interaction to the point where guests felt like they were talking to their peer, as opposed to staff.

“If it’s a bar in a hotel, that’s no excuse for it being a crappy bar,” he says. “It should be one of the best clubs in the city. It should be engaging to the level of art, it should be engaging to the level of a big name, it should be engaging to the point that it desires important events, so don’t give me a space that’s called a hotel lobby that hasn’t been designed exceptionally. Don’t give me a restaurant that is a breakfast room that is set up with buffet stations designed for functional meals three times a day. I want an experience, I want the best restaurant in the city.”

A decade later, he says the picture of lifestyle is changing dramatically.

“It needs to be far more culturally relevant,” he says. “It needs to be much more authentic, more organic, more sustainable, the champagne parties and the bali beds are still loads of fun and they’re not going away and that was back in the 90s, the aspirational lifestyle… but the younger generations coming through, the millennials, they don’t subscribe to that. They kind of want to save the world, they want something more thoughtful, more intelligent, something more engaging, and they want to discover when they travel… I think one of the things that has made the brand so different, truthfully, and we’re really centred on this, is the European essence of the brand. We’ve always been a bit different.”

It’s this level of difference, service and the amenities available onsite that sets the hotel properties apart from the likes of Airbnb, he says.

“The thing that none of these people has is a venue, none of them,” he says. “They might own a room in the city, or sell a room in a city, but they’ll never have the venue… what we do with our restaurants, rooftops, lobbies, pool experiences, beach clubs, what we do with our venues outside of the actual room [they can’t compete with], because they can compete with a room, but they can’t bring the service and they can’t bring the total experience that a hotel can bring.”

In light of the 10th anniversary of ME, PressToday is in Spain to check out the first ME property in Europe, ME Madrid Reina Victoria, which recently underwent a complete refurbishment across the Radio ME Madrid rooftop bar, the Ana La Santa restaurant (where guests enjoy breakfast), the lobby and its 192 rooms, 12 of which are suites, as well as a signature two-floor ME Suite.

What’s next for ME? Several locations are in the works, including Barcelona and Doha. As for the company’s other brands, Cortizas confirmed a Gran Meliá will be opening in Venice.

Stay tuned for more on the evolution of ME by Meliá in upcoming issues of Canadian Travel Press and Travel Courier.