Gabriel Escarrer Juliá, founder and president of Meliá Hotels International, received from the hands of President Luis Abinader the Duarte, Sánchez and Mella Medal of Merit for his career dedicated to tourism.
The businessman received the recognition as “one of the greatest honors” that has been dedicated to him throughout his life, one of the most important civilian distinctions that since 1931 has been awarded by the Dominican Republic to civilian or military personalities for distinguished services.
President Abinader presented the award to Escarrer in an emotional ceremony held at the National Palace. In the words of the President, this recognition “gives us the opportunity to show new generations the merits, successes and sacrifices of those whose work has contributed to forge our present; which will also inspire our future”.
Escarrer, who emotionally thanked the honor received from a country he declared he loved deeply, shared this moment with some members of his family, colleagues and collaborators of his company in the country, and with a large representation of the civil society and the tourism sector of the Dominican Republic, who have accompanied him throughout his more than 30 years of presence in this country.
In his speech, the founder of the Spanish hotel company recalled his beginnings, starting from a modest hotel that he managed to rent with a loan from his parents and the mother of his future wife, and explained how his determination and “healthy ambition” drove him to conquer the highest goals in the international tourism industry. “At the age of 21 I signed the lease for my first hotel, at 36 I had 21 hotels, most of which I owned, and at 50, after the major acquisitions of hotel chains in the 1980s, I became the president of the largest hotel company in Spain and the second largest in Europe.
He also recalled the beginnings of the company’s internationalization, with a first hotel in Bali, from where he “jumped” to the Dominican Republic in the 1980s, as the decision that marked “a before and after” in the evolution of what is now Meliá Hotels International. “It was, without a doubt, the most important decision we have ever made, as it radically changed our business model and allowed us to enter nothing less than the Top 20 of the world’s hotel industry,” he said.