First to review the newly refurbished Gran Meliá Hotel Colón • Hotel Designs
With its awe-inspiring monuments, cobbled streets lined with orange trees, and bustling food scene, Seville is a city that will leave a lasting impression even on the most seasoned traveler. At the epicenter of this cultural center, just a 10-minute walk from the Guadalquivir río, the Torre del Oro and the Real Maestranza bullring, is the Gran Meliá Hotel Colón; a hotel that has been an integral part of Seville since its iconic architecture by José Miguel de la Cuadra was first unveiled in 1929.
Some 92 years later, the building is today a listed pillar, having majestically preserved its original neoclassical facade. Don’t let its large structure fool you, however. It houses a contemporary hotel that is fluidly articulated around a modernist central dome, made up of thousands of colored crystals. As Rosana Gonzáles, general manager of the hotel, says: “Lights up the hotel by shedding new light on the history of Seville. And it was this central part of the hotel that became the main source of inspiration for interior designer Álvaro Sans when he was asked to direct his public spaces through a sensitive renovation that could meet the requirements of today’s travelers.
“Seville is a unique city, the ‘Spanish Florence’, if you will.” – Álvaro Sans, interior designer.
“We wanted to differentiate the Gran Meliá Hotel Colón from the rest of the hotels in the city,” Sans said. “To do this, we decided to inject a good dose of culture, art and Sevillian feeling into the building. The strong sense of place transports guests to the destination where they can truly experience the true essence of the place. Seville is a unique city, the “Spanish Florence”, if you will. The ‘Sevillano’ is felt in the streets and by the visitors who live there. There is an infectious joy in living here.
FAST ROUND-FIRE WITH THE DESIGNER:
Hamish Kilburn: How long did the project take from concept to completion?
lvaro Without: Two years, due to delays with the Covid-19
HK: Describe the recently renovated hotel in two words?
LIKE: Sevillian and timeless
HK: What’s next for the hotel?
LIKE: Two magnificent suites, but you didn’t hear that from me!
There is no doubt about it: the rejuvenation of the hotel has been influenced by the past. However, its hospitality offering was created with a social traveler in mind, while looking to the future. By opening up the space in the lobby, the opportunity presented itself for Sans to create a new F&B proposition – a new destination bar – which is now the focal point of all first impressions, which sits under the magnificent dome. . The interiors of the bar are decorated with pieces that were curated by young local artisans. Together, they form a magical atmosphere.
Achieving such a drastic transformation at an iconic hotel is difficult enough, but add to that the fact that Sans was working on this project during a pandemic creates a whole new layer of uncertainty. “The delivery of materials was a formidable task to manage,” says Sans. “We had to change some furniture because it didn’t arrive after five months of delay. “
Originally known as Hotel Majestic, the establishment was, in its time, one of the most luxurious hotels in Spain, built primarily to accommodate international visitors to the international exhibition Exposición Iberoamericana, held in Seville in 1929. As a result, world famous figures such as Ava Gardner, Picasso and Dalí also walked its floors and fell in love with the historic building. The hotel was where the famous matadors (bullfighters) used to stay ahead of the bullfights (bullfighting events) that draw crowds, which arguably helped put Seville on the tourism map – national and international. In fact, the traje de luces (the different costumes) of the famous El Cordobes are now part of the interior decoration, displayed behind the check-in desk., as well as original flamenco dancer costumes, to add a unique sense of belonging to guests starting or ending their stay.
As guests arrive, what was a dated red-and-white design scheme has been transformed into a light, stylish, and welcoming space. “Pure red is a color used only in the Seville bullfighter’s cape – it’s not an iconic color for the city,” says the designer. The lobby now features shades of green, ocher, gold – reminiscent of the Andalusian countryside. Wood alongside luxurious and elegant materials such as velvet, silk, leather and walnut add significant texture. Among the new services, customers can enjoy a brand new Red Level on the ground floor, the new Bar del Colón and the Abacería del Colón restaurant.
“Seville is olive green,” adds Sans. “It’s a city with many cultures that have come together in a beautiful way. So the hotel had to have something that authentically amplifies this. To achieve this, Sans introduced natural materials – white Andalusian Macael marble, solid walnut wood, hydraulic concrete floors – designed and built for the hotel, in a larger format than the traditional one. “We chose olive green [throughout the lobby and public areas downstairs], to imitate the magnificent skylight of the hotel, ”explains Sans. “The ceramics were handcrafted especially for the hotel by Isabel Parente’s workshop in Seville, in an oxidized olive green tone and an original Mudejar design, with plaster details from the Alhambra in Granada.”
One of the hotel’s dining venues, Burladero Restaurant offers a wide range of Andalusian tapas that attract locals as well as international visitors. The new Abacería del Colón is a place where customers can feast on typical Seville products such as ham, cold cuts, jams and chicharrones, as well as buy them to bring home this emblematic flavor of Seville.
The hotel is also part of the Virtuoso y Fine Hotels and Resorts by Amex (FHR), as well as the Leading Hotels Of The World (LHW). It has 188 rooms including 24 suites, adorned with classic paintings from the Spanish Golden Age by artists such as Goya, Murillo, Velazquez y and El Greco – the giants of Spanish painting of the 16th and 17th centuries.
The recently renovated Colón Gran Meliá hotel is a tribute to Seville’s history and culture; a space where the old and the new meet with incredible results. Everything is organized down to the smallest detail and recalls the original elements of the 1929 Exposition to bring each guest back in time and discover the beauty of the city. And with rumors almost confirmed from Meliá International that the hotel will soon unveil two new, refurbished suites, it’s clear that the Gran Melia Hotel Colón story is far from over.
Main image credit: Meliá International