Marriott International unveils rapid hotel expansion plan for Asia
Group operates 80 hotels on mainland and will double that in four years
Marriott International is pursuing a rapid expansion in Asia Pacific, including mainland China and Hong Kong, with an ambitious goal to double the number of its hotels in four years.
"Today we have 180 hotels in Asia Pacific and we can easily double that in four years," said Craig Smith, president and managing director of Marriott Asia Pacific. The number of hotels, represented by nine lodging brands, will increase to 200 by the end of this year.
The hotel group has 250 projects under development in different phases, said Smith, who took the post as Asia Pacific's chief effective on June 1.
Within the expansion, Smith said the largest part is in China, where the group has 80 hotels and will more than double in four years. "We will have 22 hotels in Shanghai by the end of this year, and now have 11 in Beijing and six in Hong Kong."
"It is interesting that people are talking about an economic slowdown in China, a slowdown to seven per cent. Seven per cent is a phenomenon. If you can have 3.5 per cent growth in Europe or United States, the president will be re-elected," he said.
While there is an expansion in major cities, Marriott is expanding second tier cities such as Chengdu and Chongqing.
"When we take projects back to our home offices, most of them don't know where these cities are. The good news is they never have any questions," said Smith.
Smith is not worried about an oversupply of hotels in mainland China as the company took a very long-term view.
"We build hotels for 50 to100 years. It goes down for a few years and it comes up again. You've got to remind yourself hotels are built for 50 to 100 years," said Smith.
Hong Kong is also considered an expansion target.
"We are working on a couple of other deals in Hong Kong. I am sure by the end of this year we will have something else to announce," he said.
Marriott has six hotels in Hong Kong including The Ritz-Carlton, which opened in 2011, and Courtyard By Marriott Hong Kong in Sha Tin which opened in 2013.
In the pipeline is the 495 room, Hong Kong Ocean Park Marriott Hotel.
"Outside China, we have a lot of growth in Korea and Japan. We signed new deals in Thailand."
Marriott International in Asia includes Bulgari, The Ritz-Carlton, JW Marriott, Marriott, Renaissance, Autograph, Courtyard, Fairfield and Marriott Executive Apartments.
"We have nine brands in Asia, but we have more rooms for more brands in the group," he said.
New brands coming into the mainland include Edition in Sanya next year and Bulgari in Beijing and Shanghai in the coming years.