At the age of 4 Gabriel Escarrer moved with his family from Porreras to the capital Palma and had the chance to live in an area surrounded by renowned hotels. Due to his great interest in the tourism industry, he decided to devote himself entirely to the tourism sector at the age of 17.
Gabriel Escarrer (Porreras, 1935) focused all his attention in a business that very soon became his passion.
He started to work at the old Thomas Cook agency in Palma, “where I could learn the business principles and speak all the languages I had learned before, gradually realizing that I wanted to set up my own business. I was 21 years old and had very little experience, so I forced my parents to rely on me and on my project. I have never disappointed my parents”.
Full of hope and with great perseverance, Gabriel Escarrer was able to fulfill his dreams and founded one of the most important and well-known tourism companies worldwide: Meliá Hotels International. “My beginnings may sound a bit romantic, but I can assure that everything was really hard, even though I was supported by some people. It was quite hard to win the bank’s confidence to fund our projects. I personally think that my tenacity and confidence in myself helped me a lot to achieve it. I never had a schedule, we had to pay a lot of wages, so I had to work all day, and the nights were restless.”
Until 1984, Gabriel Escarrer held his company at the national level. But this year another big step took place: Meliá presented itself with the opening of “Meliá Bali” in Indonesia on the international market for the first time. Today he describes this experience as a “real venture” in that “there are many memories and one or two anecdotes.”
Bali opened the way to a new type of destinations, like The Caribbean, Mexico and the Dominican Republic. In 1990 Meliá also established in Cuba, being the first international hotel chain to manage a Cuban hotel. “Our entry in Cuba was also an important investment, although many people have declared us crazy. Nowadays we know that we chose the right way”.
After becoming the leaders in Hotels & Resorts, Meliá took a step further “promoting our urban hotels in the main European cities: London, Paris, Berlin, etc. Until nowadays we have not stopped growing. We are already present in 44 countries and we continue to open up new markets”
Apart from having a great vision and being able to work with amazing people, Gabriel Escarrer does not hesitate to talk about the keys to success. “In my opinion, the fact of having a great foundation based in familiar and strong values plus a vision whose main purpose is to create value for the shareholders and for the society in the long term. This has influenced our strategy and has made us stronger as well.
The entrepreneur is the one who takes the risk with the goal to create wealth and employment, which is what companies give to the community. Entrepreneurs are not only useful but also the key components to make our society successful. From my own experience, I can guarantee that a society is as high as its entrepreneurs”.
Gabriel Escarrer dedicated his life to his work, his family and his passion for tourism. He considers himself a happy man: “My family and I are very happy in our professional life, but happiness does not come to one, you have to look for it and work hard for it.”
Interview published in “Empresarios con Valor”
©Mª José Merino