Marriott to open a hotel every 14 hours

An artist’s impressions of The Luxury Collection redevelopment in Hobart, by Marriott.
An artist’s impressions of The Luxury Collection redevelopment in Hobart, by Marriott.

Marriott International’s president and chief executive Arne Sorenson is equally ‘‘excited and terrified’’ given the hotel chain plans to open one hotel every 14 hours for the next three years with the Asia-Pacific a key growth engine.

Since Marriott’s $US14 billion takeover of Starwood a year ago, Sorenson is now the most powerful hotelier in the world, controlling more than 6000 hotels covering more than 1.2 million rooms.

Speaking in Bangkok recently, Sorenson says none of the merged entity’s 30-plus hotel brands including Sheraton, JW Marriott, and W would close following the company’s acquisition of Starwood.

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“We are going to keep all the brands,” Sorenson says at the World Travel and Tourism Council conference.

“We want to offer more choice to our customers and we have a big loyalty program. I suspect we are more likely to add more brands than take them away.”

But he says there was significant variability among some of the Sheraton hotels with some properties dated.

Just one of the bottom 25 Sheraton-branded hotels in the US would leave the Marriott chain, with the others undertaking major renovations to bring them up to Marriott standard.

“The owners like that we are bigger but they are going to watch us, we have six months in this exercise,” Sorenson says.

In Australia, the merged Starwood and Marriott entity has expanded from six hotels under various forms of Marriott branding to 17 Marriott-branded hotels in the past year following the recent opening of the Four Points Dockland in Melbourne.

A luxury 305-room W Hotel is under construction in Brisbane by developer the Shayher Group.

In the Maldives, Marriott International had no hotels a year ago. Now it has three properties including the St Regis.

Meanwhile, Sorenson has sparked world headlines with his claims that the new US administration’s actions around travel are not helpful and are damaging America’s reputation.

Tourism arrivals from Mexico and the Middle East into the US have dropped about 20% over the past few months, he says.

Sorenson, who has worked for Marriott for 21 years, published an open letter to President Donald Trump a week after the US election complaining about the administration’s immigration policies, but said this week he had not received a response.

Mr Trump has sought to ban travellers from six Muslim-­majority nations from entering the US. But a group of judges ruled out the ban. Mr Trump is taking the judgment to the National Court. Mr Trump wants to prohibit issuing new visas to citizens of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen for the next three months.

The writer travelled to Bangkok as a guest of the WTTC.

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