Marriott International announced today wide-ranging developments following the agreement it concluded with Whitbread PLC in May which established a 50/50 joint ownership venture with Whitbread and enabled Marriott to assume management of Whitbread’s portfolio of 46 franchised Marriott and Renaissance hotels offering over 8,000 rooms. As previously announced, Marriott said it expected the joint venture to sell the hotels to other owners within three years with Marriott taking back long term management agreements.“We’ve made tremendous strides over the past couple of months in gaining a better understanding of this impressive portfolio of hotels as well as their operational staff and the significant opportunities these properties present for the future,” said Ed Fuller, president and managing director of International Lodging for Marriott International.
“The United Kingdom & Ireland is our Number One market outside of the United States both as a destination and a source market for our other destinations. We have been operating in the country since 1984 with the opening of the London Marriott Grosvenor Square and today, with 76 properties and almost 13,000 rooms, we are one of the largest hotel operators in the this market.”
He said that under the new structure Marriott has more management contract opportunities in Great Britain than it enjoyed in the past.
New Area Operating Team Announced
As a result, Marriott has appointed a second area operating team for North and West England & Scotland which will be headed by Mark Satterfield as area vice president. He and his team of four will be responsible for Marriott International-branded hotels in Scotland, the Pennines, Midlands and Western England. Area Vice President Robert Gaymer-Jones and his team will be responsible for hotels in Greater London, Ireland, and Eastern England.
New Hotel Announced
Marriott also announced a new hotel for the United Kingdom. It is the 156-room London Marriott Twickenham which is planned to open in 2007. The hotel will be managed by Marriott in part of what is currently the south stand of Twickenham Rugby Stadium. Due to its location, the hotel will be highly visible from the main arterial road leading from central London to the M3 and M25 motorway. Heathrow International is just 20 minutes’ drive away.
For dining and entertainment, the London Marriott Twickenham will have a casual restaurant, lobby lounge and bar. Recreational amenities will include an adjacent indoor swimming pool and fitness area. Other amenities will include a business center, room service, in-room mini-bar and retail shops. For conferences and social events, the hotel will have 11,032 square feet of meeting space comprised of a 7,400 square foot conference room that will be divisible into three sections and two 1,816 square foot meeting rooms.
Integration of Former Whitbread Hotel Company Staff Progressing
“Over the past two months, we have made significant progress in aligning the former Whitbread staff who worked on the Marriott and Renaissance branded hotels with our organization,” said Jurgen Giesbert, executive vice president for the United Kingdom, Ireland, Middle East and Africa. “We’re pleased to say that all property-level teams were unaffected by the alignment and the entire sales organization has been retained.”
Mr. Giesbert noted that Marriott now is in the process of strengthening its sales and marketing presence in these 46 hotels while maintaining a sales account management structure above the property level.
He said that central reservations functions at three call centers at the Newcastle Marriott Hotel Gosforth Park, Bristol Marriott Hotel City Center and at the Marriott Breadsall Priory Hotel & Country Club in Derby are being consolidated into Marriott’s London central reservations offices. The Huntingdon center will be transformed into a specialist call center for Marriott’s Country/Golf Club portfolio. Reservationists in the closed centers have been offered transfer opportunities.
Looking to the future, Mr. Fuller said that Marriott is striving to maintain its lead in preference among business travelers in the United Kingdom, “We’ve ranked Number One for the past two years in the global brand tracking study conducted by the BDRC. With the addition of these 46 properties to our management portfolio, we are confident of being able to strengthen our position.”
He indicated that property improvement plans are being developed for the 46 hotels new to the Marriott-managed portfolio as they come up on their upgrade cycle.
In other developments, Mr. Fuller said the restoration of the London Grosvenor House Hotel is progressing on track. Plans call for the Grosvenor House to be rebranded to the company’s luxury JW Marriott brand and to have 494 rooms when the restoration is completed in 2007. He also reported that, in Ireland, the 90-room Courtyard by Marriott Galway opened July 1 and that restoration of the historic Shelbourne Hotel in Dublin was underway. He added that Marriott was very pleased by the recognition earned recently by Pearl’s Restaurant in the Renaissance Chancery Court Hotel in London as “Best New Restaurant” at the Theme Bar & Restaurant Awards 2004/2005.