AFP, Published on Thursday, December 15, 2022 at 3:01 pm.
Spanish tennis star Rafael Nadal announced on Thursday that he has formed a hotel chain with the Melia group, one of the giants of the industry, with the goal of opening around twenty businesses in five years.
Named Zel and inspired by the “Mediterranean lifestyle”, this chain will come to light in 2023 with its first hotel in Mallorca, an island in the Spanish Balearic archipelago, where the 36-year-old tennis player is from and where Melia is located. It was established in 1956.
The leading Spanish hotel group, which holds the Grand Slam record and operates more than 400 properties worldwide, is a joint owner of the company but did not specify its shareholding structure.
“The goal is to have more than twenty hotels in the next five years,” Rafael Nadal said at a press conference in Madrid, telling them not to set “boundaries”.
According to Melia, the chain will specifically target countries in the Mediterranean basin such as Spain, France, Italy or Croatia, as well as “high purchasing power leisure destinations” such as the Caribbean, Southeast Asia and the Middle East.
However, it will also be present in major tourism capitals with planned openings in London, Paris and Madrid.
These openings, highlighted by the group’s CEO Melia Gabriel Escarrer at the press conference, will initially be 80% through the rehabilitation of existing businesses that will “go through a profound transformation” to gain the “Mediterranean spirit” of Zel.
But Mr Escarrer, also from the Balearic Islands, said the goal is ultimately for the majority of hotels to be built specifically for Zel (“sky” in Majorca, a variant of Catalan spoken in Majorca).
Melia CEO emphasized that “what we want” is to emphasize “Mediterranean culture”, especially the sense of “well-being”, “gastronomy” and “party”, it is “very attractive” for customers.
Questioned by journalists, Rafael Nadal assured his side that this project was not the end of his sports career. “I’m definitely not in that mood,” he said, adding that he wanted to make sure his retirement from the sport was “as late as possible.”