In the midst of a worldwide tourism crisis due to the coronavirus pandemic the Barceló Hotel Group has announced several exciting new projects to expand their presence on the Costa del Sol.
Raúl González, the company’s CEO for Europe, the Middle East and Africa has said that in a few weeks the chain will be able to confirm the locations for the opening of two new four-star hotels, which will add 700 rooms, reinforcing their presence on the Costa del Sol, a destination where they also want to build a brand-new five-star hotel.
“If all goes well in a few weeks I will be able to confirm this expansion. Now I can only point out that they are two existing hotels,” he said, refusing to be drawn on the locations or establishments that are being negotiated with. González did, however, point out that one of them needs a major reform.
Raúl González also explained that the company's plans are to build a new five-star hotel on the coast, believing that “the Costa del Sol will be one of the first areas to recover after this crisis”.
He put the focus on the Marbella and Estepona area, which he has said always arouses great interest, but regretted not being able to give more details of the new projects yet.
Acknowledging that “without a doubt there has not been a worse crisis in tourism,” he has called for direct aid to the sector, cuts in local taxes and measures to encourage demand.
“We are working to make the company stronger,” he said, after outlining a plan to reposition assets, which includes more than 200 million in investments in hotel improvements.
In addition to the Costa del Sol developments, Barceló is also working on new projects in Conil (Cadiz), the Balearic and Canary Islands, as well as in Sri Lanka, Dubai, Bali, Madeira and in the Azores.
The expansion plan includes the opening of thirteen hotels this year despite the volatility and uncertainty due to the pandemic.
González, who is in favour of a vaccination passport, predicted that the beginning of the recovery will begin with the summer and said that the recovery of occupancy and prices will depend on the type of hotel, the location and the greater or lesser dependence on international tourism.
“Some will recover before others. Some will do so in 2022 and others will have to wait until 2024,” he forecast.
Referring to the potential reopening of the British market he said, “My initial reaction was that waiting for 17 May was bad news. However, I consider that having a date is good. If the UK takes off from there we expect the revival in the UK market to be very fast.”
He said that the Barceló Hotel Group had set a target for 2020 to achieve a gross operating result of more than 400 million euros and earn more than 200 million. “But, with the arrival of the Covid-19 pandemic, the forecasts became dead paper and we closed the year with losses, the worst results in the history of the company”.
For this year González forecasts little Easter trade and a 50 per cent drop in reservations for summer compared to a normal year.