Meliá Hotels International has become the first five-star branded hotel to enter the Iranian market.
Managed by international hotel Company, Gran Meliá Ghoo Hotel, the property will be located in the largest mixed residential, commercial and hotel complex to be developed in Iran, which is currently being built in Salman Shahr, a popular holiday destination on the Caspian Sea. The Spanish hotel chain takes an important step in 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. Iran expects to attract more than 20 million passengers a year by 2025, compared to the current five million.
The hotel is part of the ‘Ghoo, Middle East Diamond’ development being built by Iranian businessman and investor, Ahad Azimzadeh in Salman Shahr, Mazandaran Province, in the north of the country; a year-round business and holiday destination. 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 square metres.
Gran Meliá Ghoo will occupy a 130-metre high tower, boasting 319 deluxe rooms of different types including a Presidential Suite. The hotel will provide all of the luxury services and facilities expected of a five-star hotel, with seven restaurants and bars, more than 1,300m² 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 great 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 Azimzadeh, 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 and 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 is among 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 & gas, technology and tourism. According to the International Monetary Fund, Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in Iran will grow by almost four percent, 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. With an increase in tourist numbers to Iran, it will require the development of additional transport infrastructure and hotel capacity, estimated to consist of 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.