Hotel Melia don Pepe, Marbella

29 October 2014

A hotel’s reputation is often measured by the type of client that books, but in the case of some, like Gran Meliá Don Pepe in Marbella, it is the quality of its professional staff that is the most noteworthy factor. Some of their kitchen, restaurant and lobby personnel who started working as simple waiters or receptionists are now renowned hotel and restaurant managers. This happened to Fermín Muñoz, now manager of Cipriano’s restaurant; Miguel Pedraza, owner of restaurant La Navilla; Count Francisco Perlac, who started as public relations and worked his way up to hotel manager for 22 years.

This year, Don Pepe turns 50 and to celebrate, they will organize a party for senior employees to be held on December 4th. Invitations have been issued to those who have worked for the hotel for at least seven years or those who worked when the hotel first opened its doors. Don Pepe opened June 1964 with 226 rooms. It became the first luxury hotel to be built in Marbella.

Juan de Borbón, King Felipe’s VI grandfather, Mohamed VI, King of Morocco when he was only 8 years old, actor Omar Sharif, Argentine’s Eva Perón, actor Sean Connery among other celebrities have walked by the hotel’s swimming pool alongside Arab Sheiks. Don Pepe became a luxury tourism symbol in Marbella and as a refuge for the European elite at the time.

In the years before democracy, the monthly pay was about 2.250 pesetas a month, said Pérez Recero, who was president of the workers’ committee. He also said that in those days “you knew what time you started work, but you never knew when you’d leave.”