With leisure travel contributing significantly to the industry’s recovery, hotel companies have been coming up with new and evolved product offerings to attract more travelers and offer unique experiences. Responding to this trend and the rising popularity of premium resorts, Meliá Hotels International and Falcon’s Beyond have leveraged their decade-long partnership to create a category in hospitality that would set them apart from their competitors.
Palma de Mallorca-based Meliá Hotels International and its Orlando, Florida-headquartered joint venture partner Falcon’s Beyond have joined forces to create a leisure and entertainment-based resort brand — Falcon’s Resorts by Meliá.
These resorts will be featured in Falcon’s Beyond Destinations, entertainment destinations that will be jointly developed by both partners in key global leisure markets. Falcon’s Resort by Meliá | All Suites Punta Cana will be the brand’s first project to see the multi-phase transformation of two existing Meliá properties in the Dominican Republic — Paradisus Grand Cana and The Reserve at Paradisus Palma Real with a total key count of 622.
The two partners will be developing more such destinations globally in the next few years, including sites in Tenerife, Canary Islands, slated to open in 2024; Playa Del Carmen, Mexico, expected to open in 2025; and Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, whose opening date will be announced later.
What will set the resort apart will be the three components comprising Falcon’s Beyond Destinations. Guests staying at the destinations will also experience Katmandu Park | Punta Cana, the new theme park, and Falcon’s Central | Punta Cana, a signature retail, dining, and entertainment district currently under development.
The brand and entertainment destinations were a result of a decade-long relationship between Meliá and Falcon’s Beyond and the desire to transform and grow the Meliá brand with a partner.
“Meliá Hotels and Katmandu Group originally came together in a 2012 joint venture to launch the themed Sol Katmandu Park & Resort in Mallorca, Spain, and complement the beach holiday experience by providing ‘entertainment with rooms,’” said Cecil Magpuri, CEO and co-founder of Falcon’s Beyond. “This proof-of-concept became an award-winning property. Clearly, we were onto something special and, from it, we decided to elevate this unique, proven model of “Big-Experience, Small-Footprint” theme parks for Katmandu and other IPs around the world, leveraging the joint venture with Meliá.”
The partnership is a “true 50-50 joint venture,” Magpuri added, stating that Meliá brings in key properties in prime leisure markets to be transformed into Falcon’s Resorts by Meliá, while Falcon’s brings entertainment development and master planning experience and relationships with major IPs to incorporate unprecedented entertainment experiences.
Meliá, which has developed entertainment hospitality properties in Mallorca and Tenerife together with Falcon’s Beyond, will be bringing together the same model to Punta Cana.
“The destination of Punta Cana is very special as this is where our Paradisus by Meliá brand originated. The development of Falcon’s Resort by Meliá will add a new level of casual, sophisticated, and unexpected fun to the traditional vacation experience,” said André Gerondeau, CEO, Meliá Hotels International.
The new global resort brand aims to offer a “resortainment” experience — a key differentiator that will set it apart from competitors — by bringing together premium resort services with entertainment services in a casual yet sophisticated manner. The partners hope to execute this by creating entertainment with rooms, rather than a resort with entertainment.
“This is accomplished through our joint venture that marries Meliá’s 66 years of expertise in travel and hospitality with Falcon’s deep entertainment development and master planning experience, and relationships with significant IPs, to incorporate unprecedented entertainment experiences,” Magpuri explained.
The debut project at Punta Cana will comprise three components with a US$350 million investment. The destination will begin with enhancements to what is now Paradisus Grand Cana to open as a Falcon’s Resort by Meliá this December.
The project will also include Katmandu Park | Punta Cana, a theme park that will open later this year or early 2023, and Falcon’s Central | Punta Cana, a signature retail, entertainment, and dining district currently under development. The Katmandu Park will comprise multiple patented and new technologies, interactive storytelling, and mega-park-level attractions.
With the collective offering at the Punta Cana destination, Gerondeau expects guests to extend their stay at the resorts by two to three nights. “For U.S. travelers, this means an increase from five to seven nights and, for Europeans, we anticipate an average of an 11-night stay,” he said.
Falcon’s Central will connect guests with brands via curated location-based entertainment venues, amenities, content, experiences, restaurants, shopping and “retailtainment.”
These retailtainment offerings will consist of several immersive shopping experiences, consumer products, storytelling through transformative media content and branded merchandise. The Punta Cana destination will include a brick-and-mortar, location-based entertainment venue featuring both iconic as well as original IPs from Falcon’s Beyond.
“These ‘retailtainment’ experiences transform the typical vacation, giving guests the freedom to play through their own customizable path,” Magpuri said. “For example, the complex’s Curiosity Playground is planned to feature interactive experiences branded with the popular children’s shows Blippi and CoComelon to offer awe-inspiring moments for guests of all ages complemented by world-class restaurants and branded merchandise.”
The two properties, which are being transformed for the first Falcon’s Resorts by Meliá, will remain open during the rebranding and transformation process.
“Meliá Hotels International has deep roots in the Dominican Republic – with the first property opening in Punta Cana over 30 years ago,” Gerondeau said. “In addition to the development of Falcon’s Resort by Meliá, guests can also enjoy other Meliá properties in Punta Cana, including Paradisus Palma Real, which will unveil resort-wide renovations this December, the adults-only Meliá Punta Cana Beach Resort, which has recently launched a first-of-its-kind Wellbeing 360 Experience and Meliá Caribe Beach Resort.”