MAJORCAN hotel chain Sol Melia was yesterday awarded the Prince Felipe Prize for Excellence in Tourism 2009, as part of Central Government's Awards for distinction in Industry and Commerce.

The Princess of Asturias, wife to the heir to the Spanish throne handed the prize to Sol Melia ‘s vice-president Sebastian Escarrer at a ceremony in Madrid.

The award was made on the same day that Sol Melia opened its first luxury hotel in China. The “Gran Melia Shanghai” is the result of a joint venture construction agreement between China's state building company “Xintian” and Cuban promoters “Cubanacán.” The 30-storey, five-star hotel with 686 rooms is situated in the heart of the financial district of Shanghai. Sol Melia has been awarded the contract for running the hotel for the next ten years on a renewable basis.

It will give the Majorcan company a chance to show that they are formidable and capable operators, albeit in a part of the world where they are still largely unknown. Sol Melia also wants to have a presence in Peking and Canton.