Spain’s largest hotel group expands in the GCC

By: Editor In Chief
Tue 6 January,2015

Marko Janssen, General Manager, Melia Hotel Dubai

Filed Under: Business & Development

Marko Janssen has been with Melia Hotels International for over 15 years, coming most recently from Melia Zanzibar in Africa, where he has successfully repositioned the property and took over the pre-opening. He has now been assigned to lead the Dubai team, which is the flagship hotel of MHI in the Middle East.


Prior to MHI, Marko Janssen had worked with other global chains as well such as Maritim Hotels and Marriot where he held a number of management positions. Hailing from Germany, Marko brings with him a wealth of experience with over 21 years in the hospitality industry and out of this he has been General Manager for 13 years. His strong leadership and strategic management skills, and extensive background in operations is certain to drive more business for the property and for the brand.


Founded in 1956 in Spain, Meliá Hotels International is one of the largest hotel companies in the world and the largest hotel chain in Spain, with over 350 hotels in 35 countries under its 8 brands.


What has been your experience so far since you arrived in Dubai to manage this hotel?


It has been quite a challenging and fulfilling experience at the same time. Coming from Meliá Zanzibar in Africa, operating a full day service, all inclusive, 40 acre resort, the experience is completely different from leading a business driven hotel like Meliá Dubai.


In Africa, one of the major challenges was sourcing supplies from outside the country to the resort, which you need to plan very carefully and well in advance but in Dubai, pretty much everything is accessible. It does not make it a walk in the park though.


Dubai boasts a lot of potential as a business and commercial district even so now with the Expo 2020 vision, however it is an incredibly competitive market with about 130 hotels with 32,142 rooms to open by next year. I enjoy working here a lot. This city is very fast-paced, dynamic, and the business is very aggressive. You always have to be innovative, and always have something new to the market otherwise, you will be left behind and your share in the cake will be taken by your competitors.


How successful has this hotel been in terms of its operations?


It has definitely not been an easy ride but I am proud to say that we have been able to capture an incredible share in the market. We have been very successful, overachieving our quality results, and at the same time have increased our Revenue Per Available Roomby 13% which is astonishing.



What is it that people will experience here that sets you apart from the rest of the hotels in Dubai?


Meliá Dubai is a very special hotel. Here, we play with all the five senses. As you come into the hotel, you would smell the distinct fragrance of Blue Velvet, a signature aroma that we have as a brand standard in every Melia hotel. Then you go out into the lobby and your eyes wander around the visually entertaining surroundings. You’ll see the massive 40 feet metallic sculpture of Albanian artist, Helidon Xhi Xha and several unique art pieces we have imported from all over the globe to compliment the avant-garde and stylish look of Meliá Dubai.


Each of our restaurants and bars cater to every palate – from celebrity chef Sanjeev Kapoor’s Signature restaurant which serves progressive Indian cuisine; Gourmet pub grub in Quantum Sports Bar; Azalya, our All Day Dining restaurant; Asian cuisine at Alfonso X Sushi & Cigar Lounge and then Spanish grills and tapas in  Estrellas Rooftop Bar.


The YHI Spa is a brand creation by Meliá Hotels & Resorts. Here we have skilled therapists from all Southeast Asia and Morocco. Each guest experience is bespoke, as we let our guests choose from our aroma and music menus before they start their spa treatment.


Lastly, we have a Guest Experience Manager that makes sure each Meliá brand standard is met and guest concerns are attended to immediately. She pays special attention to quality and exceeding our guests’ expectations all the time.


What other projects do you have in the pipeline for the Melia Group?


We have a lot of ongoing projects all over Latin America, Asia and Europe with the Arabian Gulf as a natural focus for the expansion of our luxury hotel brands, and Qatar, a growing influence in the world, will be an exceptional location for business and for our positioning as a leading hotel management company.


As a matter of fact, Meliá Hotels International will be opening the new Meliá Doha in January 2015 which will be our third hotel in the region. We are now operating in 43 countries and this agreement enhances our positioning in an emerging hotel market in the GCC.


The spacious hotel set over 62,000 square meters has 280 rooms, with 37 suites ranging from Executive to the spectacular Royal Suite, and will offer a wide range of international and specialist restaurants, separate spas for both men and women, pools, and a gym.


The 41-floor Bin Samikh Tower, which will host the new Meliá Doha, is located in West Bay, the most prestigious district in Doha. It was designed to house a five star hotel of the highest standard, competing with luxury international hotel brands in the West Bay area.


The signature in Doha was made by the Chairman and CEO of the prestigious real estate firm Tamniyat Qatar Real Estate Investment, His Excellency, Managing Director, Dr. Braik Saeed Al Marri, and the Vice President and CEO of Meliá Hotels International, Gabriel Escarrer, accompanied by his Executive Vice President of Hotels, André Gerondeau and Vice President of Expansion, María Zarraluqui and in the presence of the Spanish Ambassador in Qatar, Carmen de la Peña Corquera.


How do you see the future of the Tourism sector in Dubai, especially now that Dubai will be hosting the 2020 expo?


The demand will increase and due to its strategic location the demand towards the destination will increase as well, either from GCC travelers or from the main feeder markets. Our focus is on the key markets in the GCC with two new openings in the region planned to open in 2015/2016. With the new Meliá Doha scheduled to open in ‎January 2015 in West Bay by Qatari developer Tamniyat, Meliá Hotels International will debut with another luxury Meliá brand in the GCC. Also, ME Dubai has been also announced to open in 2017 in Burj Khalifa District.


Meanwhile, we keep a permanent team and focus on the area, as we believe on its potential regarding in-bound and out-bound tourism, and on our brands, as the perfect choice for the demanding GCC countries’ customers. Our excellence as hotel managers and our commercial muscle are key features for Arab investors, and therefore, we find fertile ground here for our expansion.