Meliá Hotels International has announced its entry into the Iranian market with the first five-star branded hotel to be managed by an international hotel company, the Gran Melia Ghoo Hotel, located in the largest mixed residential, commercial and hotel complex to be developed in Iran, currently being built in Salman Shahr, a popular holiday destination on the Caspian Sea. The Spanish hotel chain thus takes an important step to becoming one of the leading international hotel groups in Iran, a country which expects to see significant tourism development after the lifting of sanctions that have restricted foreign investment since 2006.
The hotel is part of the “Ghoo, Middle East Diamond” development being built by the Iranian businessman and investor Ahad Azim Zadeh in Salman Shahr (Mazandaran Province), in the north of the country, both a business and holiday destination to travel to every month of the year. In addition to the hotel, the resort will also feature two residential towers, a sports centre, parking and a retail mall – which is already open to the public – all within an area of 180,000 m2.
The Gran Meliá Ghoo Hotel will occupy a 130-metre high tower and will provide 319 deluxe rooms of different types, one of them a Presidential Suite measuring more than 500 m2. The hotel will provide all of the luxury services and facilities expected of a five-star hotel, including seven restaurants and bars, over 1,300 m2 of meeting and banquet facilities, two swimming pools, a spa, and diverse leisure and shopping facilities.
Gabriel Escarrer, Vice Chairman and CEO of Meliá Hotels International, stated that the hotel is an important milestone for the Gran Meliá brand and for the company: “We have always been pioneers in the development of new markets in the travel and tourism industry, so it is a fantastic challenge for us to be involved in a project which is so important for the future of the industry in this country, in a historic moment for the international relations within the area. We firmly believe in Iran’s tourism potential and I am also very proud to have earned the trust of our partners in the management of this hotel, a further demonstration that we are a significant international player for the most prestigious hotel projects anywhere in the world.”
Mr. Ahad Azim Zadeh, CEO of Azimzadeh Carpet and main investor and developer of the “Ghoo, Middle East Diamond”, said: “This is a historical moment for Iran’s tourism, and we are pleased to be a key part of it. Tourism brings social and economic development to a community, as well as people and cultures. Ghoo, Middle East Diamond will mark a turning point in tourism in Iran and the modern and avant-garde hotel & resort’s sector.”
One of the largest countries in the Middle East, Iran has a strategic position connecting Russia and Turkey to the Arab world, as well as being a key hub for transportation between Asia and Europe. Iran has one of the top 20 largest economies in the world, and the lifting of sanctions will now open up a new phase for foreign investment, for which the Iranian government is already implementing strategies to accelerate the development of key sectors, especially oil and gas, technology, and tourism. According to the International Monetary Fund, Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in Iran will grow by almost 4% as an immediate result of the foreign investment the country will receive after the lifting of sanctions.
Tourism is undoubtedly one of the industries with the most promising growth prospects. Iran expects to attract more than 20 million passengers a year by 2025, compared to the current 5 million. This will require the development of additional transport infrastructure and hotel capacity, estimated at at least 150 hotels to cater to the increased demand. The government has recently revealed its intention to acquire up to 160 Airbus jets to add to the Iran Air fleet, and to build more than 500 kilometres of new railway lines every year as well as new highways.