Marriott bullish in face of recession

27 Mar 2009 by Mark Caswell

Marriott is expected to open 332 hotels globally in the next 48 months in spite of the dire economic climate, according to Ed Fuller, president and managing director of international lodging for Marriott International.

During this period 200 hotels are expected to open in the US while 132 hotels are planned for the rest of the world, said Fuller. Of these 332 hotels, 25 will be JW Marriott business luxury brand hotels. The news comes after Marriott recently announced three new JW properties in Cusco, Tripoli and Coco Beach (see online news March 13).

“A lot of our lists are in good shape and we feel good about it. There may be slippage, but there’s no cancellation,” said Fuller. “Almost all of them I assure you will open.”

Should “slippage” occur, Fuller anticipated it would arise from the construction markets, rather than other factors such as financing.

When asked why Marriott would continue opening new hotels when many businesses were scaling back on new projects, Fuller responded that growth is essential because there are new markets arising every day, naming China, India and Thailand as examples. He acknowledged the “ups and downs” nature of the industry, saying that hotels are a long term investment.

“We started the international group in 1990 when the economy was in recession and we continue to grow,” he said. “Today we’re at 3,000 [hotels] and that growth has gone through the 1996 Asian down [turn], SARS, 2001 and 1990, but you need to keep it going.”

Openings in 2009 will include 400 and 300-room hotels in Shenzhen and Hangzhou, China; a 300-room resort in Jordan; and 206 and 318-room hotels in Gurgaon and Bangalore, India. Later openings will include locations such as Kazakhstan, Columbia, Algeria, Mexico, China, Dubai, four in India and two in United Arab Emirates.

Report by JoAnn DeLuna

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