Le Meridien’s Global Expansion

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Accommodations at Le Meridian Tampa, opening June 2014.
Accommodations at Le Meridian Tampa, opening June 2014.

It took its first baby steps in 1972 with a 1,000-room hotel in Paris, and now Le Meridien is one of the world’s most recognized hotel brands. In fact, it’s been conquering the globe one fabulous, French-accented hotel at a time, and since Starwood’s acquisition of Le Meridien in 2005, the brand’s Americas portfolio alone has nearly tripled. Adding to its luster, it will open almost a dozen new hotels in the next few months everywhere from Florida to North Carolina and Bangladesh to Bhutan.

The Le Meridien brand was founded by Air France, says Brian Povinelli, global brand leader, Le Meridien and Westin, as a way to “provide a ‘home outside of home for Air France passengers,’ which led to a presence of Le Meridien in the world’s primary and international cities.” Once it was acquired by Starwood, it was “envisioned,” Povinelli continues, “to transform into a contemporary, design-led lifestyle brand by mixing contemporary culture with its European heritage.” Today, “we have the strongest global portfolio ever in Le Meridien brand’s history and with more than 100 properties in over 50 countries worldwide, the brand is in incredible demand. From Paris to Philadelphia, Shanghai to Dubai, and Seychelles to Bora Bora, Le Meridien is represented in some of the world’s most dynamic urban and resort destinations,” Povinelli points out.

welcome to the family

According to Povinelli, Le Meridien’s growth in the Americas is unstoppable. The brand is “on track to more than triple its portfolio in the Americas.” The roster of new hotels reflects that, with Le Meridien Tampa opening next month; Le Meridien Chicago opening in July; Le Meridien Charlotte opening in August; Le Meridien Indianapolis opening in November; and Le Meridien New Orleans opening this upcoming winter season.

On the other side of the globe, there is also significant growth. In fact, Povinelli points out that, “while the brand remains focused on global growth across the board, we recently announced a substantial investment in the Middle East, Asia Pacific and Africa.” In July, the Le Meridien Dhaka in Bangladesh will welcome its first guests, while in Thailand, Le Meridien Suvarnabhumi, Bangkok Golf Resort & Spa will open its doors in August. In India, meanwhile, Le Meridien Gandhinagar, Ahmedabad Road will open in Gujarat, and Le Meridien Mahabaleshwar Resort & Spa will open in October. Early 2015 will see the openings of Le Meridien Thimphu in Bhutan, and Le Meridien Jiaonan Resort in China. Additionally, the brand will be investing more than $200 million in the renovations of 13 hotels and resorts in the Middle East and Africa regions in the next three years.

cultural rendezvous

And what type of experience will Le Meridien be bringing to these destinations? “Le Meridien seeks to expose the contemporary, creative-minded traveler to the most unexpected and engaging experiences their destinations have to offer, allowing guests to leave feeling fulfilled, having made a unique discovery they can share at their next stop,” Povinelli says.

So it’s no wonder that a key thing that sets the Le Meridien brand apart from other Starwood brands—and other hotels in general—is the cultural experience it aims to provide its guests. The brand provides a unique perspective on the local cuisine, arts and culture. “No other brand of our scale delivers on this promise like Le Meridien does and two key activation points are: ‘The Arrival Experience’ at our hotels that starts with transitional art installations; and our ‘Hub’ experience, which re-interprets the traditional lobby into a social gathering place for creative people to converse, debate, and exchange in a cafe-like environment,” he says. The Hub, he stresses, is “at the heart of everything that we do. It’s an integral part of the brand because it embraces the concept of ‘unlocking a destination’ by presenting a creative space for guests as well as the local community.”

To bolster that cultural experience, Le Meridien has created a global partnership with French bossa nova band, Nouvelle Vague, who curated a 24-hour soundtrack that has been playing in every Le Meridien hotel around the world since May 1. That partnership coincides with the launch of Le Meridien brand’s global beverage program, Le Meridien Sparkling, inspired by the European aperitif culture. Ideal partnerships for Le Meridien guests, who Povinelli says is a “fast-growing, very well-educated, highly affluent and demanding group. They value creativity, innovation, individuality and diversity, and they cluster in creative communities.” ●