Meliá Hotels International has set the date for the opening of the new Palau de Congressos de Palma (Convention Centre) and its adjoining hotel, the Meliá Palma Bay. On Saturday, 1 April, the company will open the doors on what its Vice Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Gabriel Escarrer, expects to be the best Convention Centre in the Mediterranean, with the potential to earn Palma a place among the top 50 destinations for international congresses and conventions.
Last October, when Meliá Hotels International was chosen to manage the new Palma Convention Centre, the company began the countdown for preparing this key infrastructure for Palma de Mallorca. In the recent edition of FITUR in Madrid, Escarrer committed the company to making its best efforts to open in April, and thus begin to generate business, congress and convention activity for the city as soon as possible.
To make it possible, assisted by the Palau Board of Directors, formed by Palma City Hall and the Balearic Islands Government, dozens of members of Meliá's technical, operations and marketing teams have been familiarizing themselves with the facilities for several weeks and planning how to begin operations.
The Palau de Congressos de Palma (Convention Centre) enjoys one of the best locations on Palma's Paseo Marítimo seafront, only five minutes from the airport, the cathedral and the historical heart of the city, and offering spectacular views of Palma Bay. Amidst the light and the Mediterranean Sea, the building designed by the prestigious architect Francisco Mangado rises, in his own words, "as a special place in which the landscape, sea and design merge with extraordinary intensity, making it a focus of influence and genesis for the city."
In their design and construction, both buildings have taken into account the idea of continuity and integration with the seafront promenade, while also ensuring the greatest degree of efficiency by allowing the autonomous operation of each of the units (grand auditorium, small auditorium and exhibition area) to allow reduced energy use and maintenance costs.
As well as a prestigious career as an architect (with works such as the Baluarte Convention Centre and Auditorium in Pamplona, the Museum of Archaeology in Vitoria and the BBAA Museum in Oviedo, and the Spanish Pavilion at Expo Zaragoza in 2008, among others), Francisco Mangado (Navarra, 1957) also has a long academic curriculum as a visiting professor at the American Universities of Harvard, Yale and Cornell and in the Polytechnic Schools of Milan and Lausanne. He has also been a professor at the University of Navarra since 1982. Mangado has received numerous Spanish and international architectural awards, most recently the Berlin Art Prize-Architecture 2017.
The Grand Auditorium can host more than 1,900 people and is the "jewel in the crown" of the building, unique in the Balearic Islands and internationally. This immense auditorium has the finest acoustic conditions, comfort and versatility, given that it can be divided into two smaller auditoriums with 1.249 y 729 seats to host several events simultaneously.
The Small Auditorium can host events for up to 462 people and is equipped with the same technology as the Grand Auditorium. It is also connected to the Exhibition Area, allowing it to perfectly combine exhibitions with presentations and all types of events.
Both auditoriums provide the latest technology in their technical and translation booths as well as other features such as dressing rooms between the stages, providing maximum versatility and support for hosting events of all kinds (musicals, conferences, exhibitions, etc.) in the Palau.
The Exhibition Areas occupy a total of 2,340m2 and consist of a huge ground floor (1,640m2) with a height of 11 meters and a mezzanine floor measuring 700m2 with a height of 7.6 meters for smaller exhibitions or as a complement to the main ground floor area. This set-up guarantees efficiency in the management of the spaces, which the Meliá team believes will be able to accommodate all of the different trade fairs and exhibitions that may take place in Palma. Together with the lobby areas, the ground floor of the Palau provides a total surface area for exhibitions of 3,000m2 with direct external access.
The lobbies are located at different heights and in strategic areas such as the access to the Grand Auditorium and the Small Auditorium, and mostly face the sea, with panel-glass walls providing abundant light and breath-taking views of Palma Bay. These spaces are another great feature as their architectural beauty is accompanied by their functionality as an area for exhibitions, cocktails and coffee-breaks, group lunches or dinners, among others. The space alongside the Grand Auditorium measures 2,300m2, while the annex to the Small Auditorium measures 1,100m2. There is also another 1,000m2, space with a terrace which gives visitors a chance to enjoy the great weather in Palma overlooking the sea.
Maximum versatility and functionality is also on offer in the two smaller conference rooms on the upper floor with spectacular views of the bay, both of which can be divided into 8 totally independent spaces measuring 80m2 each, surrounded by large transit areas suitable for exhibitions and other events.
The Convention Centre is connected to the Meliá Palma Bay Hotel through its middle floor, symbolizing the bond between the convention facilities and the hotel, essential in a destination as popular as Palma de Mallorca.
The magnificent architecture and facilities of the Palau de Congressos (Convention Centre) are accompanied by the Meliá Hotels International service culture, built up over 60 years of history and the attribute which is most highly valued by the company's international customers. The service culture of each of the company's brands, combining equal parts of innovation and excellence with soul, warmth and personalized service, will allow the Palau to surprise guests with a service that will far exceed their expectations.
Confirming this guarantee of excellence, the Palau logo presented today by the facility owners and managers includes the tagline "managed by Meliá Hotels International".
The pure and refined essence of the architecture is also reflected in the experience offered to guests at both the Palau and the Meliá Palma Bay Hotel, where innovation and sustainability will be present in all of the aspects of the hotel and congress experience.
In the 268-room hotel, the Meliá brand has evolved towards a philosophy called "360º wellbeing " that is reflected in different moments during the stay: showers, beds and pillows, minibar, in-room fitness facilities and technology to help guests relax and meditate. The rooftop terrace of the hotel is home to a swimming pool overlooking the most spectacular bay in the city, as well as an indoor Spa and gym. For the most discerning travellers, Meliá Palma Bay will also offer an exclusive "The Level" service within the hotel, providing 53 rooms and a VIP Lounge.
The Meliá passion for great cuisine is transferred to its hotels and convention centres worldwide, and the Meliá Palma Bay will provide a wide range of different concepts based on both healthy eating and Spanish and international cuisine in line with the company's food and beverage strategy. The "ELYXR" coffee bar provides a "Grab & Go" service on the street floor, serving a choice of sandwiches, cakes and salads plus fresh fruit juice, coffee and teas, all prepared to go, offering a quick and efficient service specially designed for visitors to the Palau.
Also, the Trasluz Restaurant (meaning "facing the light" in Spanish) - named for the abundant natural light that floods through the windows of both facades of the hotel - will be located next to the hotel lobby and act as an all-day restaurant uninterruptedly from breakfast through to dawn, changing its food and beverage services throughout the day and offering refined cuisine based on fresh local products while combining a more formal service with a laidback ambience.
Sustainability is a key Meliá Hotels International commitment at the Palau, and the hotel team are working on projects in areas such as waste management, energy efficiency and carbon footprint reduction. In general, both the hotel rooms and convention centre will offer products with a low environmental impact.
Meliá Hotels International has prepared an ambitious sales and marketing plan for the Palau which aims to present it in the key markets for conventions and in the most important Spanish and international MICE trade fairs over the first year of operations. Among other events, in 2017 the Palau de Congressos de Palma (Convention Centre) will be presented at the trade fairs in New York, Chicago, Toronto, Mexico City, Las Vegas, Sao Paulo and Chile in the Americas, as well as London, Barcelona, Frankfurt and Cannes in Europe and Beijing in China.
Although major conventions are generally planned more than a year in advance, Meliá hopes to attract its first events in May, and to grow in size and activity as expected in the Business Plan.
Ramón Vidal, recently appointed Managing Director of the entire complex, explained the progress of works which are now in the "home straight" by comparing it to a perfectly tuned orchestra in which the excellence of each of the instruments working together in harmony would create the perfect symphony. For Vidal, "this is one of the most complex pre-opening processes I have ever seen in my long career, given both the dimension and the quality of the project, as well as the deadlines we have set ourselves by committing to starting operations in April, given that we already have some events booked. I am absolutely certain that we will achieve it."
Both the Palau and hotel will begin operations in April with a period of "soft opening", during which the first customers and groups will get excellent rates for being the first to try out the facilities and services while also helping in their fine tuning.
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