Dubai: In the coming months, hotel giant Marriott International is set to open six new luxury hotels throughout the Middle East, with over half launching in the UAE, a senior executive at the company confirmed on Monday.
Marriott, which merged last year with Starwood to form the largest hotel operator in the world, will open three new properties in Dubai over the next few months, including a Renaissance hotel in the Downtown area, a W hotel on the Palm Jumeirah, and the ultra-luxury Bulgari hotel, located on the Jumeira Bay Island.
Speaking to reporters at the company’s Ritz Carlton property in Dubai International Financial Centre, Neal Jones, chief sales and marketing officer for the Middle East and Africa at Marriott International, said that Marriott was targeting an additional 26 hotels in the UAE.
“In the UAE, we currently have 50 hotels open and operational, and 26 in the pipeline, so significant growth in this part of the world. Around 21 of those hotels will be in Dubai,” Jones said.
According to the senior executive, the Bulgari will have its soft launch in the next few weeks, while the Renaissance Downtown is due to open in the next few months, and the W is expected to begin welcoming guests on the Palm in early 2018.
Marriott currently operates 54,818 rooms across 243 properties in the Middle East and Africa, and will be introducing another four brands, from its portfolio of 30, across the two continents over “the next few years,” according to Jones.
The company has a signed pipeline of 130 hotels throughout the region, which equates to around 35,000 rooms, set to be completed by 2025 or 2026, Jones added.
Marriott completed its $13 billion (Dh47.75 billion) acquisition of Starwood in December 2016, creating the world’s largest hotel company, with 5,700 hotels and 1.1 million rooms, representing 30 brands in over 110 countries. The deal combined Marriott brands such as the Ritz Carlton and J.W. Marriott with Starwood’s St Regis, W and Le Meridien, among others, in to a single portfolio.
Responding to claims that hotel staff may be struggling now they are working on many more brands than before, Jones said: “We’ve been working very hard to encourage our associates to cross-pollinate between former Marriott International brands and former Starwood brands. One way to integrate the people and integrate our culture is to cross-pollinate as quickly as we can.”
One Marriott International communications executive described the jump from representing one brand to 30 as a “minefield,” but added that the merger had afforded her opportunities that wouldn’t have been present in the past.
On the subject of consolidation, Jones rejected the notion that the merged company had too many similar brands, most notably in the luxury and ultra-luxury segments, insisting that each hotel had a unique identity, and as a result had a place to stay in the portfolio. Jones instead suggested that 30 was “not enough.”
“We may well grow over the next year or two... We would look at adding brands to the portfolio as long as they had a unique voice and a space to play in,” Jones said.
However, he noted that the company was working hard to ensure that each brand was as clear and as distinct as possible from one another.