“We renovated the 25th floor, which is incredible. It has 360-degree views of the city,” the West Berlin native said. “You can see directly inside the Georgia Tech stadium and Centennial Olympic Park. It was the first thing I did — take that room and make something of it.”
The rest of the property’s $35 million renovation is slated to continue through 2013, according to the website of the 350-hotel chain based in Palma de Mallorca, Spain. The hotel is open during the renovation.
“The intent is to introduce Spanish hospitality,” he said.
The former chef defines the quality as “very artistic, very modern” but with nods to tradition.
Meliá interior design borrows from the visual arts, which makes Midtown the ideal location for the chain’s second U.S. hotel, he said.
“In my opinion, Midtown is the fastest growing and the most interesting part of Atlanta because it’s so diverse,” Svensson said. “Midtown is the arts center of the city.”
It’s also 15 minutes from his house, adding to the quality of a life in which he racked up more than two million frequent-flyer miles.
“I traveled consistently for about 10 years,” said Svensson, the former general manager of the Ritz-Carlton in Buckhead.
The Berlin Hotel School graduate who arrived in Atlanta during America’s bicentennial year, 1976, said he doesn’t feel like he’s working now.
“It’s not a job for me. It’s a hobby,” said Svensson, whose wife, Dolores, owns the Simply Fresh Market and Carryout Café in Marietta and whose daughters Alexa, 21, and Bianca, 24, attend the University of Alabama. “But it wasn’t always that way. You grow into this.”
Megan Whaling, Meliá’s marketing director, said Svensson’s contributions will be effortless.
“(He) is an icon in the Atlanta hospitality industry,” she said. “With Mr. Svensson at the helm of Meliá, people know that the standard of service will be impeccable.”