“Grand Hotel,” ABC’s sexy “Spanish Downton Abbey” has sizzling secrets

The gorgeous cast of Grand Hotel (photo ABC/EdHerrera)

Grand Hotel, the hot new ABC drama, has a “Spanish Downton Abbey” as its inspiration.

The summer series Grand Hotel had a grand opening when it debuted June 17 on ABC and it has been sizzling in the ratings ever since. The steamy drama chronicles a family that owns a luxury Miami Beach hotel called the Riviera Grand. It also follows the employees who work at the five-star hotel, offering a contemporary, fresh take on an upstairs/downstairs story.

The production is based on a popular Spanish soap series “Gran Hotel” that was set in Spain in the early 1900s. The original drama has been described as “a Spanish Downton Abbey.”

Executive producer Eva Longoria (Desperate Housewives) invites viewers to check-in for a show that showcases sun, secrets and suspects. The sexy drama is set at the last family owned hotel in Miami Beach. The hotel’s patriarch is the charismatic Santiago Mendoza (Demián Bichir), while his glamorous second wife Gigi (Roselyn Sánchez), and their blended adult children enjoy the spoils of his success. The hotel’s loyal staff see and hear everything that goes on as wealthy and beautiful guests bask in luxury. But scandals, escalating debt, and explosive secrets are also part of the stories.

One mystery twist has a young man investigating the disappearance of his sister who worked at the hotel. The pilot was filmed at the famous Fontainebleau in Miami Beach, then the series shot in Los Angeles. And behind the picture perfect exterior of the Grand Hotel is a gorgeous picture perfect cast.


The stars gathered at the Langham Huntington Hotel in Pasadena to make up one of the most beautiful interview panels at the Television Critics Association’s winter 2019 press tour. Attending were Demián Bichir (Oscar-nominated for A Better Life), Roselyn Sánchez (Without a Trace), Bryan Craig (two Daytime Emmys for General Hospital), Denyse Tontz (The Fosters), Wendy Raquel Robinson (The Game, The Steve Harvey Show), Lincoln Younes, Anne Winters, Chris Warren, Feliz Ramirez, Justina Adorno, and Shalim Ortiz, who plays Mateo the hotel manager. Ortiz noted, “Mateo knows all the guests by first name. He knows everybody’s secrets, and he has some pretty deep secrets of his own.”

Also on hand were executive producers Brian Tanen, Ben Spector, and Eva Longoria, who guest stars. Longoria said, “It’s funny when Brian wrote the show I realized, ‘Wait, there’s not a part for me.’ Then we thought of this wonderful role, so I’m scattered throughout about four episodes. When I started the show I’d just had my baby and I was directing the show while I was breastfeeding. It was crazy. So the first time you see me, I’m about 20 pounds heavier than the last time you see me, because five months had passed between those times.”

Longoria said she’s very excited about the look of the show, which producer-writer Brian Tanen noted was designed to “make you feel like you’re going on vacation. It’s a tonic for troubled times, an escape to the beach, at the most beautiful hotel you’ve ever been at. That’s the intention and it looks like nothing else on TV right now. It’s blue skies, gorgeous beaches, incredibly beautiful people. The show does a great job balancing stories for all of the characters, for the family, for the staff. It really keeps you on the edge of your seat, there are so many things going on.”

Roselyn Sánchez

Roselyn Sánchez starred in Devious Maids, which Longoria produced, and Eva calls her “my muse.” Roselyn revealed, “I’m eternally grateful to Eva. She’s my dear friend personally, and to see her grow as such an important figure for the Latino community and the business, it’s wonderful.”

Longoria revealed, “My first big job in Hollywood was on L.A. Dragnet with Ed O’Neill, and Roselyn was on the first episode and had done movies. And I’d never done anything and she was doing everything. She told me, ‘Mama, don’t let them put the camera there. Always watch your light, Mama.’ She taught me everything I know. So the only reason I’m here is because of Roz.”

Roselyn recalled that day she met Eva. “You said to me, ‘I am so honored to be working with you.’ I’m, like, ‘Oh, my God. Thank you. You’re so beautiful.’ Fast forward to ten years later—now I’m so honored to be working with you,” Roselyn gushed at Eva, her very proud Grand Hotel producer.

Margie Barron has written for a wide variety of outlets including Gannett newspapers, Nickelodeon, Tiger Beat and 16 Magazine, Fresh!, Senior Life, Production Update, airline magazines, etc. Margie is also proud to have been half of the husband & wife writing team Frank & Margie Barron, who had written together for various entertainment and travel publications for more than 38 years.