Marriott, 20 Years in Asia and growing

19 Feb 2009

Marriott International marks 20 years in Asia on February 27 with hopes to expand its existing portfolio of 109 hotels by a further 57 properties, offering 15,510 rooms over the next four years.

Much of that growth, according to Ed Fuller, Marriott president and managing director for international lodging, is expected to take place in China, India and Thailand. “Just last week in Shanghai, we marked the opening of our 800th Courtyard by Marriott hotel worldwide, and in Shenzhen, we opened our fifth JW Marriott. Last month, we announced the opening of six hotels this year in India which will double our presence in that country.”

But the figure the Maryland-based company is keen to highlight are the 15,000 new jobs to be created in the hospitality sector across Asia.

Fuller, a member of the pre-opening team of the JW Marriott Hongkong, the chain’s first foray into the region, believed today’s downturn was producing opportunities. “We expect to get some hotel conversions as people look to branded products in uncertain times. We have already been approached by a number of owners.”

He projected no major stoppages in the hotel opening schedule, saying various owners had had their financing issues sorted before the crisis broke, or were successful in arranging refinancing deals.

As hotels roll off the construction line and are launched, current Marriott employees – or “Associates” in the company speak – are shifted to these new projects, creating a vacuum in their previous properties. Said Fuller: “We believe in growing our Associates and promoting from within – this is our culture.

“Such movements create vacancies, which have to be filled.”

Fuller added that about 50 percent of Marriott’s leadership in the individual hotels began their careers in line level positions.

With the economy a very real concern of Marriott’s clientele, Fuller said: “We always have our customers’ needs in mind, and we believe in coming out with well-thought out promotions that really serve them.”

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Margie T Logarta

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