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Rafael Nadal goes into the hotel business

Alongside Meliá Hotels International, the Majorcan is developing the ZEL concept with a concept qualified as urban resorts and hotels.

It was the Mediterranean island that brought the two partners together, so it is only logical that the product is rooted in the Mediterranean heritage of both partners, with a concept centred around pillars such as open-air living, cuisine, design and architecture.

The partnership itself is built around gastronomy, wellness, design and technology. One of the strongest markers of the properties that will carry the ZEL brand will be a patio, a symbol of Mediterranean life, which will be the heart of each hotel. The concept revolves around well-being, rejuvenation and fitness. The cuisine will be local and the properties will be designed to promote exchanges and highlight the local community. Pop-up corners will, for example, enable crafts or cuisine to be showcased with partner brands.

The first property will open in 2023 in Mallorca and the two partners plan to open 20 more within the next five years, capitalising on the markets already occupied by the Spanish hotel group in Europe, America, the Middle East and Asia. The concept is aimed at a highly contributing clientele and urban markets. After this first opening announcement, the target markets are the Mediterranean coast as well as capitals such as Madrid, Paris and London.

Gabriel Escarrer, CEO of Meliá Hotels International, said: "The combination of Rafa Nadal's inspirational leadership and Meliá's more than 65 years of international experience in luxury hotel design and management has resulted in the unique brand we are presenting today. An innovative hotel brand, full of energy, that will surprise and delight travellers with a new interpretation of well-being and a sustainable business model."

Rafael Nadal, adds, "As a Spaniard, Mallorcan and frequent traveller, I have been planning the launch of our hotel brand for a long time. ZEL is synonymous with feeling good at every moment, enjoying life and the way we live it all over the Mediterranean. I was very attracted from the beginning by this new concept that we are working on with Meliá. I am convinced that ZEL will be a great success, will grow considerably and will be appreciated by all travellers who stay in hotels, which is ultimately why we are creating it."

Rafael Nadal is not the first internationally renowned top sportsman to take an interest in hospitality. Portuguese Cristiano Ronaldo had initiated a partnership with Portuguese hotel group Pestana in 2016 around the CR7 brand. The Argentine Lionel Messi also owns the MiM Hotels chain and announced in January 2022 that he would open a hotel on the Costa del Sol.

The hotel sector thus attracts high-level sportsmen and women who find it a  way of continuing their business in an attractive and lucrative field.

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