Though the global economic slowdown has stalled development throughout much of the industry, the folks over at Marriott have yet to put their feet on the brakes.
The Bethesda, Maryland-based company, which already operates more than 3,100 lodging properties in 67 countries and territories, said in a statement Monday that it’s planning to open 21 new hotels in China, 24 in India and eight in Thailand in the coming four years. (This according to a Dow Jones Newswire report posted on CNNMoney.com.)
The 57 new hotels will comprise 15,510 guestrooms, the statement said.
As we wait for some much-needed officiating to take place in the tumultuous U.S. credit market, it seems that more and more domestic players are continuing this kind of push overseas. Best Western’s David Kong outlined a similar strategy when I spoke with him at ALIS a few weeks ago. (View my video interview with David Kong.) Few companies have made the commitment with as much gusto as Marriott, though.
It’s also no surprise that Southeast Asia is such a high priority for the company. The region’s travel industry is exploding as the burgeoning middle class becomes more mobile. The advent of discount air carriers is helping move people around like never before, and global hotel companies are looking for ways to meet the expected demand.
I doubt Marriott will have any trouble making good on its 57-hotel declaration. Most industry experts predict the beginning of an upswing somewhere in 2010. By 2013, when Marriott said the hotels will be open, the downturn should be a distant speck in the rearview mirrors of most operators—especially those who never slammed their feet on the brakes.