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Melia gears up for Me London opening

27 Jul 2012 by BusinessTraveller

This autumn sees the launch of Melia Hotels International’s “Me” brand (styled ME), with a 157-room Foster and Partners-designed property situated on the corner of the Strand and Aldwych.

The hotel occupies the former Citibank building, with the adjacent restored Marconi House (the original London home of BBC radio) housing 87 new apartments.

It’s the first time Foster and Partners has created both the interiors and exteriors of a property, with a design which “plays on the idea of light and dark”.

A dramatic nine-floor pyramidal atrium soars from the first floor lobby up to a skylight (see image at the bottom of this article), and dark corridors give way to “crisp white bedrooms” with white leather walls, black lacquered cabinets and backlit Onyx shelves.

Facilities include Stk steakhouse by New York firm The One Group, Italian restaurant Cucina Asselina, hotel lobby bar the Marconi Bar, and rooftop bar and terrace Radio.

The Me brand debuted in Los Cabos, Mexico four years ago, and has since added properties in Cancun, Madrid and Barcelona.

Despite issues including a fire last year (see online news June 14, 2011), and a recent delayed opening (see online news July 17), the flagship Me London will now have its soft launch in late August, with an official opening on September 1.

Properties are also under development in Vienna, Caracas, Sao Paulo and Paris, and Gabriel Escarrer, CEO of the family-owned Spanish hotel group Melia Hotels International, said that Me is a brand suited to “main capital cities”, citing Rome and Berlin as possible future destinations.

“I don’t see it as being a brand with 100 properties,” said Escarrer. “More like around 30.”

When asked about the type of guest typically staying at a Me property, Escarrer said it was a case of “psychographics rather than demographics”. He said that the aim of the Me brand was to create “places to see and be seen”, and said that the offering sat in the same competitive set as the trendy W Hotels (Starwood) and Andaz (Hyatt) brands, but with “added Latin passion”.

Me London will be joining the long established Melia White House close to Regents Park, part of the group’s core Melia brand. Escarrer said that while expansion in Europe remained “interesting”, Melia was focussing on new locations in Latin America and Asia, with the latter incorporating not just China but also Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and Indonesia.

He said that the US was also an extremely important market, with up to a third of revenues coming from North American clientele. The group currently has Melia hotels in Orlando and Atlanta, and Escarrer said that it would look to add properties in “seven or eight” US cities, with New York, Miami, Washington and LA on the hit list.

Melia is also bringing its Innside by Melia brand to the UK, with a 208-room hotel located within Manchester’s First Street North development (see online news January 19).

Purchased by Melia in 2007, the Innside brand currently has nine properties across Germany, but there are plans to expand the offering internationally, with hotels under development in Lisbon, Barcelona and Vienna.

Escarrer compared Innside with that of W Hotels’ sister brand Aloft Hotels, saying that the product is “not limited service, but not quite as full service as other brands”.

For more information visit melia.com, and for a look at new, refurbished and forthcoming properties in London, see Capital Investment in the July / August 2012 edition of Business Traveller.

Report by Mark Caswell

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