Marriott International plans to increase its rooms supply in the Middle East by more than 250 percent over the next five years. This will primarily concentrate on its high-end, luxury brands and is looking to fully engage governments and local investors/individuals as partners in order to take advantage of the burgeoning interest in tourism now underway in many parts of the region.
According to Ed Fuller, president and managing director of international lodging for Marriott, the company plans to increase its presence in its existing markets and to seek opportunities in new regional destinations.
‘The Middle East and Africa today offers unparalleled growth potential for both tourism and business travel,’ he said. ‘We are impressed by the strides being made in countries like the UAE, Qatar, Jordan and Egypt to not only enhance their travel and tourism infrastructure, but to take advantage of their respective natural beauty and culture. In many ways, the region’s stunning new hotels, high service levels and culinary innovations are setting the standard for the world.
‘We’ve been operating in the region for more than 25 years but this is the most exciting time ever,’ he said.
‘We plan to continue being a vital part of the action with dazzling new hotels and state of the art services and technology and are now working with and seeking like-minded partners throughout the region as we take the next step in our growth in the region.’
Mr. Fuller said that for the past several years the company has been hard at work reinventing, renovating and refreshing all its brands to give guests the style, functionality and comfort they are looking for today.
‘We conducted a lot of consumer research and called in outside design consultants to help us determine how travelers actually use our properties and how better to position our hotels. A lot of what we learned has been applied to the sensational properties we are now opening in the region,’ Mr. Fuller said. ‘Concurrently, we have aggressive renovation programs underway in some of our more iconic properties like the venerable Cairo Marriott to ensure that they, too, meet the needs and interests of today’s travelers.’
As a result of this work, Mr. Fuller said the company’s JW Marriott Hotels & Resorts brand is positioned for ‘accomplished achievers’ for whom luxury has a purpose, who are accustomed to elegant surroundings and to having a high level of support when conducting business. These travelers prefer hotels with design distinctiveness, character and ambience as well as gracious service that satisfy their needs.
Its Renaissance Hotels & Resorts brand, meanwhile, is designed for discriminating travelers who look to their hotel to add to their enjoyment of travel. For them, ‘living well’ is a mantra. Offering a delightful sense of wonder and comfort, Renaissance properties work to entertain their guests with stylish designs, attentive and respectful service encompassed in a strong sense of place. This positioning will be reflected in the Renaissance hotels currently under development in Doha, Bahrain and Dubai.
Travelers who prefer the company’s Marriott Hotels & Resorts brand, on the other hand, like comfortable and dependable surroundings. They appreciate distinctiveness in design, environments that inspire performance on the job and at leisure, and want caring and consistent services that help them accomplish their goals.
‘Each of these three brands will play a huge role in our future growth in the region,’ Mr. Fuller said. ‘Our development strategy has always been to establish a presence in a market and then to drill deeper into that market with more hotels, offering travelers a variety of brands, each providing a different travel experience. This is what we expect to be doing in the region as we look into the next five years.’
Mr. Fuller said that, while Marriott plans to concentrate on expanding its presence in the luxury and high-end customer tier, its deluxe Marriott Executive Apartments brand for extended stay travelers and its highly-acclaimed Courtyard by Marriott brands will also be a primary focus of growth in the region. He added that 25 percent of the company’s future growth will come from outside the United States and that its worldwide lodging portfolio is growing by about 25,000-30,000 rooms, or 150 hotels, annually. ‘With just 1 percent of the world’s lodging supply outside the U.S., we clearly have a lot of room to grow.’
Among Marriott International hotels scheduled to open in the Middle East and Africa in the next five years are the following:
? In Egypt, the 171-unit Marriott Executive Apartments Cairo Nile Dolphin, under a management agreement reached with ETAG Real Estate Development & Touristic Investment. It will be Marriott’s third property in Cairo and ninth in Egypt.
? In Jordan, 245-room Aqaba Marriott Hotel & Resort under a management agreement with Business Tourism Company L.L.C.
? In Bahrain, the:
- 323-room Renaissance hotel opening in 2007 under an agreement with Ossis Property Development B.S.C., owner of the luxurious Amwaj Islands Project.
- 190-unit Bahrain Marriott Executive Apartments in 2008 under a management agreement with Gulf Touristic Projects W.L.L.
? In Doha, Marriott International will add three hotels in 2006 under a management agreement with Al Rayan Tourism Investment Co., a subsidiary of Faisal Bin Qassim Al-Thani & Sons Holding Co. W.L.L. (FBQHC):
- 250-room Renaissance Doha
- 200-room Courtyard Doha
- 138-unit Marriott Executive Apartments
In addition, Marriott International will open the 274-room JW Marriott Algiers hotel in Algeria in 2007.
Today, Marriott International is represented by 22 hotels in seven countries in the Middle East & Africa, offering 6,557 rooms and spanning five lodging brands.