• Sol to buy Occidental stake; launches ME

Sol Melia is understood to have reached agreement to buy a 30% stake in Occidental Hoteles for just over Eu350m, leaving Barcelo and NH Hoteles out of the deal.

The move comes as Sol steps up its rebranding initiative with its existing estate and launches a new brand ME.

The acquisition of the stake, which may lead to a full takeover, is dependent on due diligence being conducted over the next month or so. It would strengthen Sol’s push into Latin American resorts, an area in which NH Hoteles has also been focusing.

Currently, Sol is investing about Eu300m in about 30 Melia branded properties. And last week it opened the doors on ME, its latest take on the lifestyle hotel phenomenon.

ME apes a lot of the features and feel of Starwood’s W, although its British designer Keith Hobbs of United Designers would no doubt argue that there are significant differences.

Using words like contemporary, cutting-edge and innovative is not one of these differences. Another similarity is the hiring of Rande Gerber to sprinkle a bit of celebrity stardust over the bar operation.

Gerber, married to model Cindy Crawford, has created the hotel’s rooftop penthouse bar. He has also fashioned a number of bars at W properties and was successfully sued by Ian Schrager for breaching non-compete clauses as a result.

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