Spanish chain to open “major hotel” in Iran next year


MADRID, Spain – Spain’s Melia Hotels International is reportedly planning to open a major hotel in Iran next year in what is seen as a fresh sign of growing international interest in the Iranian tourism industry after the removal of the sanctions.

The Wall Street Journal has quoted Melina officials as saying that the 319-room hotel is being constructed in a popular resort hub in northern Iran.

“We believe there is huge potential,” said Gabriel Escarrer, chief executive of Melia Hotels, which operates more than 350 hotels in 35 countries.

Escarrer said the potential in Iran’s hospitality market is too great to pass up. “We’re trying to be a pioneer in this market,” he said. “We started in Cuba 25 years ago. We’re trying to do the same in Iran.”

Melia Hotels is aiming for the “premium segment,” he added. “That’s where we think we can attract the international traveler.”

The Gran Melia Ghoo Hotel is scheduled to open in late 2017 on the Caspian Sea, a popular vacation destination for Iranians, Russians and Turks. It will include seven restaurants, two swimming pools and a spa.

Melia will operate the hotel, but it is not investing its own capital. Rather, a local investor will provide the required funds.

Experts believe that the hospitality market could be one of the first sectors to benefit from the influx of business and leisure travel in a post-sanctions era in Iran.

Several international hotel brands are already developing serious plans to build and operate hotels in the country where the officials say foreign visitor numbers will jump to 20 million by 2025 from five million currently.

French group Accor Hotels, which opened two hotels near the Tehran airport last autumn, is establishing a joint-stock company in Iran through which it will partner with local groups to manage hotels. Abu Dhabi-based Rotana Hotel Management Corp. PJSC has started developing properties in the country as well.

At the moment “there is a lack of hotels, both in terms of quality and quantity, whatever the segment,” Christophe Landais, chief operating officer at Accor Hotels Iran, has been quoted as saying by the Wall Street Journal.

“Accor is on a mission to develop an extensive network of property covering all market segments, from economy to business,” Landais added.