Briefs: Meliá, Rafael Nadal partner on new brand; Harwood launches Hôtel Swexan 

Meliá, Rafael Nadal launch ZEL: Meliá Hotels International, based in Mallorca, Spain, has entered into a joint venture with tennis player Rafael Nadal to launch a new hotel brand called ZEL, aimed at resort and urban leisure destinations. The brand will debut in Spain and expand into key destinations across Europe, the Middle East, Asia and the Americas. The inaugural property will open in Mallorca in 2023, with plans to open in destinations on the Mediterranean coast and major cities like Madrid, Paris and London. The growth strategy includes over 20 ZEL hotels in five years, focusing on key leisure destinations and in regions where Meliá Hotels operates. The brand will also have other partners in cuisine design, technology and well-being. The hotels will host rotate pop-ups, featuring local crafters and artisans.  

Hôtel Swexan in Dallas, TX

Harwood launches Hôtel Swexan: Dallas-based Harwood International has announced the group’s flagship 134-key boutique hotel, Hôtel Swexan in Dallas’ Harwood District. The hotel is operated by Harwood Hospitality Group. The 22-story building is the third tallest building in Harwood District, and was designed by Japanese architect Kengo Kuma. Harwood’s design team has led the hotel’s interiors. The hotel will feature 10 suites, six on a dedicated grand premier suite floor and four additional suites, which include two premier garden balcony suites. The property will also include a 20th-floor rooftop infinity pool, a pool bar, private social club, a signature steakhouse, along with 12,000 square feet of event space.   

Green light for Bally’s Chicago casino plan: The Chicago City Council has approved Bally’s plans to launch a $1.7-billion casino hotel at the site of the Chicago Tribune Freedom Center printing plant. The City Council voted 39-5 to approve the zoning changes Bally’s needs to build the project. The complex will include a casino, hotel, several restaurants, an event center, a theatre, apartments and condos, retail space and a public park. Bally’s Chicago will feature a 500-key hotel tower with rooftop bar, a 20,000-square-foot exhibition, outdoor music venue, 3,400 slots, 170 table games, 10 food and beverage venues and a 65,000-square-foot entertainment center. City officials said the casino is expected to generate $200 million a year in tax revenue for Chicago, which will be go towards the underfunded police and fire pension systems.  

Massive aquarium shatters at Radisson Berlin: Two people were injured after the giant cylindrical aquarium at the Radisson Collection Hotel Berlin, in downtown Berlin, burst on Friday morning, flooding the hotel and neighboring streets. Guests were evacuated from the hotel and police are investigating what caused the glass to shatter. The “AquaDom,” the 52-foot-high largest free-standing cylindrical aquarium in the world, contained a million liters of water and 1,500 tropical fish. The 10-minute elevator ride through the aquarium was one of the highlights of the hotel.   

Hotel Indigo Exeter opens: Hotel Indigo Exeter has opened in Exeter, England, following a multi-million-pound restoration project. The 104-room hotel has been converted from the former House of Fraser department store which was built in the 1930s. The hotel features a bar and restaurant, a rooftop bar, sport bar, spa, pools and lounge. Owned by Hotel Exe Ltd., the hotel will be managed by Castlebridge Hospitality, who manages three more Hotel Indigo properties in the U.K. Hotel Indigo is part of IHG Hotels & Resorts with 135 locations open globally and a pipeline of 124 properties. 

IHCL debuts in Vrindavan: Indian Hotels Co. Ltd. has signed its first hotel in Vrindavan, Uttar Pradesh, with India-based Brijwasi Hospitality. The management contract is for a greenfield project scheduled to open in 2026. The 120-key hotel features an all-day diner, pool, fitness center, spa and more than 730 square meters of banquet space. The hotel will be a Vivanta-branded property. With this signing, IHCL will have 17 hotels across its Taj, SeleQtions, Ginger and Vivanta brands in Uttar Pradesh, including seven under development.  

Mews closes $185M fundraising: Mews, the hospitality technology company, has closed its Series C round at $185 million. The equity investment was led by Kinnevik and the Growth Equity business within Goldman Sachs Asset Management, with participation from Revaia, Derive Ventures and Orbit Capital and returning investors including Battery Ventures, Notion Capital, Salesforce Ventures, Thayer Ventures and henQ. Mews has also expanded its existing debt facility with Columbia Lake Partners. This latest round brings the total amount raised so far to $225 million. The funding will be utilized to accelerate product innovation, M&A and global expansion.   

Marriott’s anti-trafficking milestone: Marriott International has trained one million associates to look out for the signs of and respond to human trafficking. The hospitality major first launched human trafficking awareness training in 2016 and rolled out enhanced training in 2021. Designed in collaboration with Polaris, the training includes scenario-based examples to help hotel associates identify signs of trafficking in real context and provides guidance for managers. The training extends beyond Marriott’s international portfolio of hotels. Together with the American Hotel & Lodging Association Foundation, Marriott’s training is available to the hospitality industry and beyond via ECPAT-USA.