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Gran Hotel Miramar Drives Meetings and Tourism to The Port City


There is no shortage of Renaissance-inspired beauty in Málaga, a port city of nearly 600,000 residents nestled on the southern coast of Andalusia, Spain. Looming over one of the world’s oldest cities is the famed Castle of Gibralfaro and the connecting Alcazaba, the lower fortress and royal residence, both located very near the restored Roman theater of Málaga, which dates from the 1st century B.C. Artist Pablo Picasso, one of the most influential artists of the 20th century, was born here, and a museum showcases nearly 300 of his works. There’s also the Carmen Thyssen Museum, which features 19th-century Andalusian art. Now there’s a new gem in the city that’s added prestige to boost an already vibrant and bustling meeting and event locale.

Against a backdrop of the Bay of Málaga and the Mediterranean Sea, the 5-Star Grand Luxe Gran Hotel Miramar is nearing the one-year anniversary of its rebirth in the city. “This was a big achievement for our city,” says Sandra Burgos, sales executive with the Málaga City Tourism Board. “The opening was highly anticipated and generated much excitement.” Advocates from throughout the city have pointed to the Gran Hotel Miramar as a catalyst for driving not only tourism, but also meeting and event business. Málaga was not immune to the fallout from the devastating financial crisis that impacted nearly every aspect of business in the country. The crisis began around 2008 and elements continue today. The Gran Hotel Miramar itself was a victim, as plans to refurbish the historic landmark property were put on hold.

To appreciate what the Gran Hotel Miramar has become, it’s necessary to understand its history. The building was originally designed as a hotel by famed Spanish architect Fernando Guerrero Stachan and christened the Hotel Principe de Asturias by King Alfonso XIII in 1926. It was the playground for the rich and famous of the day—Elizabeth Taylor, Ava Gardner, Orson Wells and Ernest Hemingway all stayed at the hotel as well as royalty including Queen Victoria. The hotel would undergo several identities over time—it became a field hospital and blood center during the Spanish Civil War before returning as the Hotel Miramar in 1939 and continuing until 1967. It was abandoned for nearly two decades until it reopened as the Palace of Justice, the city’s courthouse. Parts of the city jail remain in the basement of the hotel.

But in 2014, following an investment of nearly €65 million, work began on what would become the Gran Hotel Miramar, opening its doors in December 2016 under the ownership of Hoteles Santos. “I remember there was so much excitement about the opening,” says Trinidad Blanco of Tierra de Eventos, who works as a guide. “Everyone was talking about the hotel. It has been a source of pride for Málaga.” Andrés Guerrero, director of sales for the hotel, explained during a recent tour that it was important for the property to be restored to the original look and feel, including intricate Moorish carved wood arches, ornate stucco ceilings and hand-painted frescoes.

The property features 200 rooms, each featuring a different décor (Arabian, Mediterranean or modernist style) that varies from floor to floor. There are 17 meeting spaces including a ballroom and breakouts. The back gardens offer views of the bay and wide-open spaces ideal for outdoor events. Across the street is the La Malagueta Beach. “Already, the Gran Hotel Miramar is changing our city,” Blanco says. “It’s elegant, it’s beautiful, it’s functional.”

Málaga is not only a lively tourist destination, drawing more than six million visitors a year, but the addition of a five-star hotel will impact more meetings and events. Natividad Salcedo (MPI Spain Chapter) is international events and sales manager for the Trade Fairs and Congress Center of Málaga, and believes all of Málaga will benefit from the hotel. “This is good for Málaga,” she says. “We’re a little bit out from the city center, but it’s so easy to get around. It’s all about options, and this new hotel gives delegates more choices. It will help us.” The Trade Fairs and Congress Center has more than 60,000 square feet of meeting space and 17,000 square feet of exhibition area. With two pavilions, two auditoriums, two major conference rooms plus breakouts, the facility has the capability of hosting meetings and events of almost any size.

Meeting attendees will not lack for cultural experiences. In addition to the Picasso and Carmen Thyssen museums, the city boasts the Pompidou Center, the Centre for Contemporary Art, the Russian Museum Collection and an extensive collection at the Automobile Museum. But clearly, the addition of a five-star property is going to help attract more diverse meetings and events to Málaga. The hotel’s flexible meeting space will add another dimension to the city’s offerings. “We all work together,” Burgos says. “We think this is a great city for meetings. There is so much culture and history, the food is magnificent and the venues offer much for meeting delegates.” With a new property such as the Gran Hotel Miramar, Málaga not only has a historic past, but a bright future.

About the Author

Rich Luna

Rich Luna is director of publishing for MPI and editor in chief of The Meeting Professional.