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Marriott set to open 52 hotels in 4-5 years

Business Standard:  April 10, 2015

Mumbai: Marriott International Inc, one of the world’s largest hotel chains, is set to add 52 properties in India over the next five years to cater to the burgeoning demand for quality hotel stay.

Through its partners, the US-based company is adding 10,000 rooms to its existing 7,000 rooms. Arne M Sorenson, president and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Marriott International, said: “Today, 57 per cent of our guests in India are Indians compared to 35 per cent five-to-six years ago. Today, we have 28 properties in India, but we would like to have a few hundred. We see many more opportunities. The past few years have been tough, but there is enormous potential to grow here”. Sorenson was in the city to officially open Mumbai's second JW Marriott. Marriott has one of the biggest basket of brands amongst the large hotel chains.

Of the company’s 19 global brands, seven are already present in India. To complement JW Marriott and Ritz Carlton, there are plans to bring BVLGARI, its most expensive brand, to the Indian market.

“We only have half-a-dozen BVLGARI properties around the world and one is coming up in the Maldives. These are smaller properties compared to, say, a Ritz Carlton. There are four-five cities in India which can support a true luxury brand such as BVLGARI,” added Sorenson.

In the past five to six years, Marriott has added five brands to its kitty. These brands, which include Moxy and Autograph Collection, form a part of the Lifestyle Collection. According to Sorenson, some of these brands have a better prospect in India than China. “In China, they still follow traditional luxury. That is why India has a better position to host such lifestyle brands,” added Sorenson.

One of the other brands that will get a boost is the upmarket brand Fairfield. With one property operational in Bengaluru, 15 more are under development. Against the management route followed by the company in all its brands, Marriott has invested $30 million to set up Fairfield properties, which will be built through a joint venture with SAMHI Hotels. Marriott controls 26 per cent of stake in the joint venture.

In addition, premium brand Ritz Carlton, which has one operational property in Bengaluru, has two properties (one each in Mumbai and Delhi) under development. Courtyard by Marriott has 12 operational properties and 18 are under development.

Five years ago, Marriott had declared plans to have 100 properties by 2015 with an intermediate target of reaching 41 properties by 2013.

Sorenson agrees there has been a delay. “In a city like Mumbai, it takes 70-100 permits to open a new property compared to six in Singapore. This leads to cost overruns and delays,” added Sorenson. Marriott is not the only company which is running behind schedule. Starwood, Hilton, Intercontinental, Jumeirah, Four Seasons and Hyatt, to name a few, are unable to keep pace with their earlier announcements.

Disclaimer: This information has been collected through secondary research and IBEF is not responsible for any errors in the same.