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Barceló Hotel Group
The Barceló Hotel Group’s four-brand portfolio is made up of more than 230 hotels in over 20 countries and is one of the leading holiday companies in Spain and one of the most important in the world.
The Barceló Hotel Group, formerly Barceló Hotels & Resorts, was founded in Palma de Mallorca (Spain) 85 years ago. Across its hospitality division and its travel division, the company owns properties in 20 countries and has over 685 travel agencies in 22 countries. These figures position it as the third largest hotel chain in Spain, and the forty-second largest in the world.
The group’s properties have belonged to the Barceló family for three generations. They have leveraged the knowledge and tradition of one of the pioneering hotels in the tourism industry in Spain and Europe to offer the advantages of the latest cutting-edge industry trends.
The new design of the Barceló Hotel Group is made up of 4 brands: Royal Hideaway Luxury Hotels & Resorts, Barceló Hotels & Resorts, Occidental Hotels & Resorts and Allegro Hotels. This is an exciting project aiming to make the group one of the principal hotel management companies in the world. The group strives to offer the most specific and highest quality services to each guest.
First company founded by Simón Barceló Obrador
On 12 April 1902, Simón Barceló Obrador was born. He started working as a courier at a young age, which helped him to think up his first entrepreneurial activity in the transport sector: Autocares Barceló. After securing a loan from the Bank of Felanitx, he bought his first car, marking the beginning of a large transport and goods business.
From the time of its creation as a small family company located in the Mallorcan town of Felanitx (Spain), and specialising in the transport of people and goods, the Barceló Hotel Group grew in the hands of three generations who transformed it into one of the leading tourism corporations in Spain and in the entire world.
Over the course of almost 85 years, the company has focused its activity on the world of tourism and, although its two main business areas are hospitality and travel (retail and incoming agencies), the Mallorcan group has always been like Simón Barceló Obrador: a pioneer, keen to make the most of all opportunities in the market and diversify his operations, with profitability as a constant objective.
Entry into the tourism industry
With the emerging world of tourism taking shape in the Balearic Islands, in 1954 the company decided to enter the travel agency sector. The Barceló family knew that a world of opportunities was awaiting, which culminated in the creation of Barceló Viajes in 1964.
The potential of the first big hotels that attracted visitors from Spain and all over Europe did not escape the group’s attention. 1954 saw the opening of the hotel division and the first hotel in the chain. Obviously, in Mallorca.
Barceló’s innovative spirit became apparent from the company’s first hotels. And so, 1965 saw the development of a new style of hotel: the Barceló Pueblo Palma. Like the rest of the Pueblo hotels, it was specifically designed for families, with a large selection of services at an affordable price.
National growth, further afield than Mallorca
If Spanish tourism started in Mallorca, the rest of Spain did not take long to follow its lead and it soon established itself as a destination that captured the attention and admiration of the whole world.
By the end of the 1960s, the Barceló Hotel Group management had transferred its hotel industry growth to the rest of the Balearic archipelago: the Barceló Pueblo Ibiza hotel (currently Occidental Ibiza) was built as well as the Barceló Hamilton hotel in Menorca. Thus the company became a stronghold in the new wave of tourism and was represented in each of the Balearic Islands.
1970 saw the eagerly awaited leap to the Iberian peninsula with the opening of the Barceló Pueblo Benidorm, another destination that was experiencing a real national boom and was developing the foundations of profitable, varied tourism.
First hotel in the Caribbean; the first steps of international growth
In 1981, Barceló Viajes bought the tour operator Turavia, which was the group’s first step towards internationalisation. The Barceló family were sure that the Caribbean would be the perfect place for travellers, thanks to its beauty, climate and people.
After visiting and analysing the then almost unspoilt land of the Dominican Republic, the next stage began in 1985 with the opening of the first hotel in the Caribbean: Barceló Bávaro Beach Resort, in Punta Cana, the Dominican Republic. This expansion turned Barceló Hotel Group into the first Spanish hospitality company to establish itself in the area.
Five years later, and motivated by the incredible success of its first Caribbean venture, the chain decided to focus its strategy on Central America and added Costa Rica to its portfolio. It acquired the Barceló San José Palacio Spa & Casino hotel in the country’s capital, and two years later, the Playa Tambor complex.
The company enters the North American market
However, international expansion could not ignore the biggest global power and haven of opportunities. Therefore, 1992 saw the chain reach one of its biggest milestones when it entered the US hotel market.
As part of the new strategy to diversify the collections of hotels and destinations, it purchased its first establishment in the country’s capital, Washington. Shortly thereafter, this success was followed by the appearance of the Barceló Hotel Group in another key city in the United States, Orlando.
These acquisitions made Barceló Hotels & Resorts the first Spanish hotel chain to operate in the USA. And, of course, this is by no means the end of its presence and importance in North America...
Establishment in Europe
Continuing with the dynamics that drove it to establish itself in the urban hotels sector, Barceló Hotel Group decided to take a chance on its European neighbours, which included destinations that are more associated with artistic and bohemian idiosyncrasy.
With this in mind, in 1993, the Mallorcan group acquired the Barceló Praha (currently Occidental Praha), the first hotel to be incorporated in a European capital and the first of many to follow in later years throughout the Old Continent.
Gradually, other European destinations such as Germany, Bulgaria, Greece, the United Kingdom and Italy were added to the rich and varied portfolio of hotels.
First steps in the Spanish urban market
Although Barceló Hotel Group is currently a chain of city and holiday resort hotels, it would be 30 years from the moment of its creation as a sun and sand hotel chain to the opening of its first hotel in a Spanish city: the Barceló Sants (Barcelona), one of the company’s flagship urban hotels.
The Barceló Sants is not only an innovative building with all the characteristics of an excellent urban hotel, it also set the precedent for the ideal hotel for a niche market such as the business and conference market, which was emerging in an effervescent economy like Spain’s at that time.
After the Sants hotel, Barceló Hotel Group acquired city hotels far and wide across the Spanish territory, recently culminating in the acquisition of a new emblem for the chain, the Barceló Emperatriz and the Barceló Torre de Madrid, both in the Spanish capital.
The growth of Barceló Viajes (B the travel brand)
In 1996, Barceló Viajes, currently called B the travel brand) took over representation across the Spanish territory for British tour operator First Choice Holidays, a major international partner in the history of the Barceló Hotel Group. This came to fruition as a result of Simón Pedro Barceló’s management, over a long period of time.
First Choice Holidays was very important in Europe, was listed on the London Stock Exchange, was firmly established in Canada and transported six million travellers per year.
In the year 2000, Barceló Viajes was incorporated into this British travel group, and became its majority shareholder. Just two years later, the Mallorcan group exercised its preferential right and recuperated Barceló Viajes.
Currently, it is one of the most important brands in the sector and has enjoyed a stimulating process of modernisation under a new name: B the travel brand
... and the Barceló Hotel Group
In 1997, a hotel was opened in Venezuela, and in 1999 three hotels were inaugurated in Mexico: the Barceló Maya Beach Resort complex, and two more hotels on the Pacific coast, in Ixtapa and Huatulco.
The company’s arrival in the Aztec country was a real hit that promised great things right from the start. With hotels on the Pacific Coast and the Caribbean, as well as an urban presence in destinations including Cuernavaca and Puebla, the Barceló Hotel Group became a passionate connoisseur of Mexican hotel culture.
In fact, the analysis of and empathy with local culture is a constant within the Barceló Hotel Group’s international strategy, to the point of making it a leading foreign hotel chain in the country.
International expansion did not end there and the chain entered Turkey, with a number of hotels in the Bodrum region, and opened two establishments in Ecuador and Uruguay in the year 2000.
The first great challenge is met 100 hotels
In 2001, coinciding with the 70th anniversary of the group, Barceló Hotel Group reached 100 hotels, a number that placed the chain among the major hotel groups of our country. During this year, it opened a number of hotels in Spain and continued its expansion in several countries in South America.
The Barceló Bávaro Convention Centre in Bávaro Beach (Dominican Republic) also opened. It is the most modern convention centre in the country and one of the largest in the whole of Latin America and the Caribbean.
The Mediterranean basin goal, and the largest Spanish hotel company in the US
In 2002, Barceló Hotel Group decided to turn its attention to the Mediterranean basin and to make a commitment to tourism in the countries of North Africa, putting this into effect with franchise contracts in Malta, Tunisia and Morocco.
In 2002, Barceló acquired the American hotel operator Crestline Capital, which had nearly 7,000 rooms in 12 different states in the United 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.
Barcelo.com goes online
Barceló Hotel Group launched its first website, www.barcelo.com and created a new central booking system: BarceloRes. The Barceló Hotel Group’s online presence came as a breath of fresh air and, as it developed, the site strived to make the user aware of the experiences and emotions that travellers could feel while staying at the company’s hotels and resorts.
2012 saw the chain’s entry into the world of social media, with the creation of an official page in all the most important networks.
It received the TNS Fanpage Spain award in 2014 for the Best Page on Facebook in the Tourism, travel and hotels category.
www.barcelo.com is being redesigned for 2016, making it one of the most innovative and user-friendly websites in the Spanish tourism industry. Its launch also coincides with the debut of its new travel blog: Pin & Travel.
Success of the strategic plan
In 2005, the chain approved a 5-year Strategic Plan (2005–2010), the primary aim of which was the growth of the group.
The years of the property bubble unfurled and many construction companies sought to supplement their residential complexes with hotels, the management of which they placed in the hands of chains like Barceló Hotel Group. 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 a 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.
Refurbishment replaces expansion
In 2010, coinciding with the beginning of the financial crisis, the growth of the company started to stagnate, and it was 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 invested 1,000 million Euros in the refurbishment of some of its most iconic hotels, such as the Barceló Bávaro Grand 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.
The USA: a country apart
In 2014 Barceló Hotel Group decided to sell part of Barceló Crestline, its US subsidiary, while maintaining 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 then on, the company stated that it had 95 hotels in 16 countries, and indirectly, another 74 in the US.
By banking on growth in the US, Barceló Hotel Group became the leading Spanish hotel chain in the world’s foremost market, with hotels for holiday-makers as well as for business travellers (including 3 convention centres).
The end of the crisis? Growth restarts... and a change in model is observed
After a few years in which growth slowed down, despite the opening of some important hotels in Italy, Germany, Greece and the Czech Republic, the chain started 2015 by announcing six new projects, something that it had not done since the beginning of the financial crisis. Two hotels in the centre of Madrid, one in Eixample in Barcelona, the first 5-star hotel in Tenerife and two hotels in Algeria; these achievements reflect a reactivation of the market that carried the chain back into growth.
The chain also made an agreement with the shareholders of the hotel company Occidental Hotels Management to purchase 100% of the company’s capital. The company has over 4,000 rooms in 13 hotels located in Mexico (6 hotels and 2,054 rooms), the Dominican Republic (2 hotels and 1,130 rooms), Costa Rica (2 hotels and 459 rooms), Aruba (1 hotel with 368 rooms), Colombia (1 hotel with 164 rooms) and Panama (1 hotel with 143 rooms).
2016: a global benchmark for hotels and brand diversification
With Occidental Hotels’ incorporation into the Barceló Hotel Group’s portfolio, a segmentation of types of establishments has become necessary to better satisfy the needs of travellers who are increasingly discerning and innovative.
As such, a new brand architecture was established:
1. Royal Hideaway, Luxury Hotels & Resorts. Hotels with a huge personality which makes them a destination; hotels that uphold tradition and seek a subtle, refined and discrete form of luxury.
2. The new generation of Barceló Hotels & Resorts. Yet it has not lost its original essence: a portfolio of hotels based on close contact, imagination and improvement.
3. Occidental Hotels & Resorts. A selection of accommodation designed so that guests can experience the most contemporary comfort and tranquillity.
4. Allegro Hotels. Fun and excitement reign supreme in these hotels where boredom is the enemy. They are located in destinations with lush vegetation and vast beaches offering adventure, action, shows and fun in equal amounts.
Philosophy and values
An ethical code of its own, and the commitments undertaken by subscribing to the Code of Conduct of the Tourism Sector against the Sexual Exploitation of Children and the Global Compact on Human Rights and the Environment (Kyoto Protocol), guide the conduct of all the people who make up the Barceló Hotel Group.
As part of its social corporate responsibility and its commitment to society and the environment, the Group collaborates with charity organisations such as Fundación Integra and Fundosa to ensure that excluded groups are also integrated into the company (Fundación ONCE).
The company’s main objective is to position itself as the benchmark brand and company in the national and international tourism industry, ensuring that all of its projects are profitable. However, it also wants to take advantage of its wealth of experience managing holiday and urban hotels, satisfy the expectations of its important customers (guests, shareholders, employees, partners, collaborators, providers and public administrations) and seize business opportunities.
Its expansive nature leads to a philosophy focusing on opening up new markets and pioneering the launch of new and innovative products and services. Finally, the Barceló Hotel Group seeks to contribute to the well-being and social, political and economic development in the countries in which it has a presence.
The Barceló Foundation is a non-profit organisation created in 1989 by the Barceló family, which mainly acts in countries ranking below 100 in the Human Development Index developed by the UNDP (United Nations Development Programme).
The organisation’s main objective is to carry out projects that contribute to improving society overall, focusing on areas such as health, education, economic development and housing. Furthermore, the Barceló Foundation carries out artistic and cultural activities in Mallorca, the home of the foundation’s headquarters.
Its cooperation activities are mainly carried out in the poorest countries in Latin America and Sub-Saharan Africa.