Interview to Rocío Galán, Gran Meliá Don Pepe manager

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The Don Pepe Hotel opened in June 1994. It has 226 rooms and it was the first luxury hotel built in Marbella. During its 50 years of history, important national and international celebrities have stayed at the hotel and thus, it is a touristic icon and a symbol of exclusivity.

It has been a long time since it opened and tourism trends and technology have changed the concept of tourism. Gran Meliá Don Pepe has always been since its beginning a pioneering hotel in a very demanding market. Rocio Galán, the Manager, knows about these demands perfectly. In this interview she tells us about guests’ demands in a five-star hotel and specifically about clients who travel to play golf in the area.

Facade

You have been the Manager of Gran Meliá Hotel Don Pepe for three years. After working in other hotels of the company, what is your assessment of the hotel in the last few years?

The assessment I make is very positive. I arrived in Marbella in 2013, just as we started to recover from the economic recession and tourism in Spain was better that in other destinations immersed in different conflicts.

I lived a period of growth and consolidation of both the destination and the hotel in two different ways. On one hand, I had the opportunity to develop “customer loyalty” of all these “borrowed” guests that we hope to see again on their next holiday. On the other hand, this economic prosperity enabled us to invest in modernizing the hotel and adapting it to customers’ demands and present requirements. We cannot forget that Gran Meliá Don Pepe Hotel’s history is more than 50 years old.

The Gran Meliá Don Pepe Hotel was a pioneering hotel in the 60’s in Spain. However, since then, just like tourism, the hotel has developed to adapt to a more demanding clientele. What is Don Pepe Hotel like now?

As I mentioned before, all the improvements carried out in the last five years have been guided towards more expert clients whose expectations are very high. These guests want to feel at home, want to be surprised and we offer plans so that they fully enjoy the destination. Thus, we are constantly improving all our restaurant services. We have created a fantastic terrace-bar integrated in the lobby and we continue working in the Cappuccino and Tahini Bars. Next summer we are also opening a new T-bone Grill Restaurant.

On the other hand, we have improved our “Welcome Arrival” at the hotel. We have modernized the reception so as to offer a more personalized service, we have enlarged the “red level lounge” and we have refurbished the rooms.

We have carried out all these improvements without altering the essence of the Gran Meliá Don Pepe Hotel, a model hotel at a national and international level.

Golf is one of the reasons people travel around the world, but golf travelers are a very specific kind of customer who demands all kind of experiences and certain exclusivity. Why should someone who visits the Costa del Sol to play golf choose Gran Meliá Don Pepe Hotel?

Gran Meliá Don Pepe is a unique hotel where most of its rooms have amazing sea views, a highly appreciated asset for international golf guests. Besides, the fact that we are the only five-star hotel in the town centre allows guests to enjoy this destination after a game of golf in a comfortable and attractive way.

We also have attractive facilities for people who come with these guests; our Spa is run by the French company Clarins, we have a heated pool, we are located on the seafront and the sea promenade is just outside the hotel. All these are part of a very complete, exclusive and attractive product for both golf players and guests.

Does the hotel have special agreements with nearby golf courses?

Of course, it does. The Costa del Sol in general and Marbella in particular is a paradise for golf players. There are not many places which can proudly offer a wide variety of golf courses as well as the weather conditions to enjoy playing golf all year round. We have special agreements with Santa Clara Golf Marbella, Rio Real Golf, Los Naranjos Golf Club, Valle Romano Golf and Marbella Golf. They are all located within 10 kilometres from the hotel.

Hotel digital marketing is getting more complicated. What are Grand Meliá Don Pepe Hotel online strategies?

Although the online strategies of the company are based on promoting our own channel (melia.com), we continue working with traditional selling channels such as Tour Operators who know the destination, the product and the guests very well. However, we also use OTAs (Online Travel Agencies) and we have been working with them these last years very successfully.

Nowadays, digital marketing is undoubtedly one of the most powerful tools to be used when positioning products in the market. Nevertheless, Gran Meliá Don Pepe Hotel is also committed to personalized customer service, one of our distinctive features since we opened.

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