Barcelo

History of the group

Founded by Simón Barceló in 1931, from the creation of a small family business located in the town of Felantix Mallorca (Spain) and specialised in the transport of people and merchandise, Barceló Group has grown through 3 generations that have made it one of the most important tourism corporations in Spain and the world.

Throughout its almost 85 years of history, the company has focused its activity on the world of tourism and, even though the two main areas of business are hospitality and travel (retail and incoming agencies), the Mallorcan group has always been a pioneer in making the most of all opportunities in the market and in diversifying its operations, with profitability as a constant objective.

The trajectory of the Barceló Group, which today has a workforce of over 23,000 people around the world, is marked by a series of milestones and key dates that have directed the life of the company.

1931: Establishment

Autocares Barceló (transport company) was founded by Simón Barceló in Felanitx (Mallorca, Spain).

1954: Entry into the tourism industry

In 1954, the company decided to enter into the travel agency sector, which led to the creation of Barceló Viajes in 1964. At the same time, the hotel sector was launched in 1954, with the first hotel of the chain, located in Mallorca.

This stage culminated in 1965 with the development of a new style of hotel: the Barceló Pueblo Palma was specifically designed for families with a large selection of services at an affordable price, as are all of the "Pueblo" hotels.

1968: International growth.

At the end of the 1960s, the company expanded the hotel sector to the rest of the Balearic Islands: the company built the Barceló Pueblo Ibiza hotel and acquired the Barceló Hamilton hotel in Menorca. In 1970: the leap to the Iberian Peninsula was made with the opening of the Barceló Pueblo Hotel Benidorm.

1981: International growth.

In 1981, Barceló Viajes bought the tour operator Turavia, which was the group’s first step towards internationalisation. The hotel division started to operate in other countries in 1985, with the opening of its first hotel in the Caribbean (Barceló Bávaro Beach Resort, Punta Cana, Dominican Republic). Barceló Hotels & Resorts was the first Spanish hotel chain in the country. Five years later, the chain entered Costa Rica, acquiring the Barceló San José Palacio Spa & Casino hotel, and just two years later, the Tambor Beach complex.

1992: The company enters the North American market

In 1992, one of the chain’s milestones was reached: it entered the US market. The hotel purchased its first establishment in Washington, and then added another in Orlando. These acquisitions made Barceló Hotels & Resorts the first Spanish hotel chain to operate in the USA.

1993: Establishment in Europe

The drive into Europe started in 1993, the year in which the Mallorcan group acquired the Barceló Praha, the first hotel in a European capital to be brought into the fold.

1995: First steps in the Spanish urban market

Although Barceló Hotels & Resorts is currently a hotel chain with both urban and holiday hotels, it was 30 years after the company’s creation as a sunshine and beach hotel chain that it opened its first city hotel in Spain, the Barceló Sants (Barcelona), one of the flagship hotels of the company.

1996: The growth of Barceló Viajes continues

In 1996, Barceló Viajes became the Spanish representative for the British tour operator, First Choice Holidays. In the year 2000, Barceló Viajes was incorporated into this British travel group, and became its majority shareholder. But two years later, the Mallorcan group exercised its pre-emptive rights and regained ownership of Barceló Viajes.

1997: Barceló Hotels & Resorts

In 1997, the chain opened a hotel in Venezuela, and in 1999 inaugurated three hotels in Mexico: the Barceló Maya Beach Resort complex and two hotels on the Pacific coast, in Ixtapa and Huatulco. Expansion did not cease and the chain made a start in Turkey, with a number of hotels in the Bodrum region, and opened two establishments in the year 2000 in Ecuador and Uruguay.

2001: The first great challenge is met 100 hotels

In 2001, which was also the Group’s 70th anniversary, Barceló Hotels & Resorts reached a total of 100 hotels, a figure that puts the chain among the largest hotel groups in Spain. During this year, it opened a number of hotels in Spain and continued its expansion in several countries in South America. In addition, the Barceló Bávaro Convention Center in Bávaro Beach (Dominican Republic) was opened, which is the most modern convention centre in the country and one of the largest in all Latin America and the Caribbean.

2002: Mediterranean objective

In 2002, Barceló Hotels & Resorts decided to focus on the Mediterranean and tourism in North African countries. The company did this using franchise contracts in Malta, Tunisia and Morocco.

2002: Largest Spanish hotel chain in the USA

In 2002, Barceló acquired the American hotel operator Crestline Capital, which manages close to 7,000 rooms in 12 different states. A subsidiary was created, Barceló Crestline Hotels & Resorts, which noticeably reinforced Barceló’s presence in the USA, where it now operates 48 hotels and 6 Convention Centres.

2003: Barcelo.com goes online

Barceló Hotels & Resorts launched their first website, www.barcelo.com, and created a new Booking Centre: BarceloRes. The day for its launch into the world of social networking arrived in 2012, with the creation of the chain's official site in all the most important networks. It was awarded the TNS Fanpage Spain in 2014 for the Best Page in Facebook in the category "Tourism, travel and hotels".

2005–2010: Success of the strategic plan

In 2005, the chain approved a 5-year strategic plan (2005–2010). One of its main objectives was the growth of the group, and an ambitious challenge to reach 200 hotels. During the years of the property bubble, many developers wanted to complement their urban developments with hotels managed by chains such as Barceló Hotels & Resorts. This collaboration between hotel companies and property developers led to a rapid growth in our portfolio. In the case of Barceló, the agreement that it made with FADESA was the most prominent, and it was signed with the intention of reaching 5,000 rooms within the time frame of 5 to 7 years, with Spain and the Mediterranean basin as the preferred areas of operation. As a consequence of the agreement, a number of hotels were opened in Isla Cristina, Fuerteventura, La Coruña, Madrid, Marbella and Casablanca (Morocco), and in other cities, too.

From this time onwards, the chain opened an average of 20 hotels a year, and in 2007 it managed to incorporate as many as 40, thanks to the agreement that it made with Paramount Hotels, opening 20 hotels in the United Kingdom.

2006: Awards for the 75th anniversary

Coinciding with the 75th anniversary of the Barceló Group, the company acquired the Barceló Formentor hotel, one of the most outstanding hotels on the island of Mallorca and in the whole Mediterranean. The company also received one of the best awards granted during its history: the brothers Gabriel and Sebastián Barceló Oliver, Honorary Co-Chairpersons of the Barceló Group, were given the Balearic Island’s Community Gold Medal. In addition to this award, the company received the Tourism Merit Plaque, and the consultancy AT Kearney granted the Best Manager Award 2006 to its two co-presidents. A year later, it received the Prince Felipe Business Excellence Award in the Large Company Business Competitiveness category.

2007: Entry in the world’s top 30

In 2006, Barceló became one of the world’s top 30 hotel chains. In 2007, the American magazine Hotel & Motel Management raised Barceló Hotels & Resorts to the 28th position in the world, based on the number of rooms. A year later, the Mallorcan group, which carried on growing, was to occupy 24th place.

2009: A mentor leaves

In May 2009, the Honorary Co-Chairperson of the Barceló Group, Sebastián Barceló Oliver, left the company.

2011: Refurbishment replaces expansion

From 2010, coinciding with the start of the economic crisis, the company stopped expanding and decided to dispense with some establishments that were not profitable when their contracts terminated. The chain, which had maintained a sound financial position thanks to its strict management policies, decided to take advantage of a drop in the occupancy of some of its hotels to carry out renovation work. The plan was that these hotels would be completely refurbished by the end of the crisis in order to be able to offer a product of the highest quality. Over a period of 7 years, the chain was to invest 1,000 million Euros in the refurbishment of some of its most iconic hotels, such as the Barceló Maya Beach Resort (Dominican Republic), the Barceló Maya Beach Resort (Mexico), the Barceló Sants (Barcelona), the Barceló Castillo Beach Resort (Fuerteventura), the Barceló Hamilton Menorca and the Barceló Montecastillo Golf (Cadiz), and many more.

2014: The USA: a country apart

In 2014, Barceló Hotels & Resorts decided to sell part of Barceló Crestline, its subsidiary in the USA, keeping 40% of its shares. With this transaction, although the chain has continued to maintain an interest in North America, where it operates 74 hotels, it made the decision to divide the communication between them. From this time on, the company stated that it had 95 hotels in 16 countries, and, indirectly, another 74 in the USA.

2015: The end of the crisis? Growth is revived

For a few years growth slowed down, although some large hotels in Italy, Germany, Greece and the Czech Republic were incorporated into the chain. However, the company started 2015 by announcing their intention to invest in six new projects, something that they had not done since the beginning of the economic crisis. Two hotels in the centre of Madrid, one in the Eixample district of Barcelona, the first 5 star hotel in Tenerife and two hotels in Algeria reflect an apparent reactivation of the market, which has led the chain to continue its expansion.

2015: A change of model

Following the attainment of the ownership of the largest number of rooms in all its history in 2014, with 38% of the total, Barceló reached an agreement in February 2015 with Hispania Activos Inmobiliarios for the creation of BAY, the first hotel REIT in Spain, with its focus on the resort market, an industry in which our country leads the world.

In addition, the chain has arrived at an agreement with the shareholders of the Occidental Hotels Management company to purchase 100% of the capital of the company. It has over 4,000 rooms in 13 hotels, located in Mexico (6 hotels with 2,054 rooms), the Dominican Republic (2 hotels with 1,130 rooms), Costa Rica (2 hotels with 459 rooms), Aruba (one hotel with 368 rooms) and Colombia (one hotel with 164 rooms).