• The hotel company led by Gabriel Escarrer is widely acknowledged for its leading role in the development of the country’s tourism industry;
• Meliá currently operates 27 hotels and is the leader in a market which welcomed 3 million tourists in 2014.
Over 25 years ago, a young Gabriel Escarrer Juliá, founder and Chairman of Meliá Hotels International, travelled to Cuba to offer the support and know-how of what was already the largest hotel company in Spain to boost the development of the tourism industry in Cuba, an island known as “the pearl of the Caribbean”.
A tribute event to the 25 years of Meliá in Cuba was yesterday celebrated at the new Meliá Jardines del Rey hotel, coinciding with FITCuba 2015, the country’s Tourism Fair. During the gala dinner, both the Chairman of Meliá Hotels International and the Vice Chairman and CEO, Gabriel Escarrer Jaume, reiterated their “unwavering commitment to the present and future of the Cuban tourism industry”, in which they expect to remain significant players. For their part, the Cuban authorities recognised the “position of honour” that Meliá occupies in the history of Cuban tourism, and how much a company which has “always been at the forefront of international tourism development” can contribute to the country in a new scenario which opens up with the normalisation of relations with the USA.
Escarrer was dazzled by the beauty and potential of the island, and captivated by the Cuban culture and the hospitality of its people. In turn, the Cubans immediately appreciated the significance of working with a global company with the know-how and international experience that Sol Meliá could bring to the country. Since then, Meliá in Cuba has been a tale of collective success. As Gabriel Escarrer said in his speech,“rather than being a mixed team of Cubans and Spanish, Sol Meliá Cuba was built upon the trust, transparency and commitment of one family”.
The opening of the first hotel, the Sol Palmeras, a quarter of a century ago was commemorated at the Cuban tourism fair. Since its opening, Meliá has continued to develop hotels through a successful formula based on joint ventures, achieving a total of 27 hotels currently operating in the country with a staggering total of 13,000 rooms, over 10,000 employees, and 5 million stays in 2014, 39% of the total for the whole island.
Cuba has always been firmly committed to the tourism industry, an industry which generates wealth and employment, and which in 2014 reached its target of 3 million visitors. Sustainability and environmental protection are important factors in the industry, one of the reasons why the Cubans are grateful and proud to have chosen Meliá, as well as emphasising throughout the celebrations the role of the Spanish company in training and supporting Cuban hotel professionals over the years.