Melia Hotels announces spring opening for ME Miami

A well-hidden hotel tucked into downtown Miami’s Marquis condo tower is getting some international attention.

The 56-room lodging formerly known as Casa Moderna and Tempo will become ME Miami in spring of 2015, the first U.S. location for the international ME by Meliá brand.

More than a name change is in order: Owner CGI Merchant Group is adding roughly 75 more rooms as well as a restaurant, STK Rebel. A series of townhouses on the pool level are being turned into guest rooms, and all of the hotel’s public and private spaces will be remodeled.

The hotel at 1100 Biscayne Blvd. opened in 2010; since then, the neighborhood has been in flux. After years of work, the Pérez Art Museum Miami opened in December across the boulevard and the Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science remains under construction.

Alyce Robertson, executive director of Miami’s Downtown Development Authority, said that area is likely to become “a brand new center of gravity in downtown Miami” with the buildout of the Miami Worldcenter to the west.

“To have a hotel that’s within walking distance to PAMM and then when the science museum opens up, I think that’s going to be really key for their success in that location,” she said.

Mark Scott, an attorney representing the owner, said CGI got a $53 million refinancing package to fund the project. The investment firm closed on its $19.5 million purchase of the hotel, restaurant space and parking garage in January with the intention of repositioning and renovating the property.

“They were generally looking for a five-star group with a lot of experience,” said Scott, a partner in the Miami office of Arnstein & Lehr. “Meliá I think was also looking for a great opportunity in the U.S....Miami’s kind of the natural choice because there’s going to be brand recognition.”

Spanish company Meliá Hotels International, which has its U.S. headquarters in Miami, operates more than 350 hotels in 35 countries. Its lifestyle ME by Meliá brand includes locations in urban and vacation hot spots such as Cancun, Cabo, Madrid, London and Ibiza.

According to a press release distributed Wednesday, the Miami hotel will have 129 rooms, two pools, a spa and “signature Aura Managers,” who are described on the website as overseeing “the tone of every public and personal space, inspiring interaction on every level.”

“We are incredibly excited about the launch of ME Miami and are thrilled to begin this project in one of the most iconic cities in the United States,” said Gabriel Escarrer, CEO and Vice Chairman of Meliá Hotels International, in the statement.

Robertson said she thinks the connection with an established brand will help the hotel reach a larger audience.

“It’s an exciting time to have an internationally recognized global hotel in downtown Miami,” she said. “Their particular ME brand fits very well with the location they’ve chosen.”