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Hotels group aims to double portfolio

HOTELS group Marriott International Inc said yesterday it will more than double its China portfolio to 70 properties over the next four years.

"About 40 hotels, spanning from luxury to moderately priced brands, will be added within four years across the country," said Geoff Garside, the company's executive vice president for Asia Pacific.

"Domestic guests will always be our focus as they contributed to the most incoming traffic for Marriott hotels in China, followed by the United States and Japan."

In Shanghai, the company plans to grow its presence to 21 from the current 10 hotels over the next four years. By the time the Expo opens next May, Marriott will have 14 hotels ready to welcome visitors.

Along with expansion in gateway cities, the group will also focus on Hangzhou, Nanjing, Dalian, Chengdu and Ningbo to cater for rapidly growing demand in those cities.

Carlson Hotels Worldwide, which manages hotel brands including Regent and Radisson, also announced last month that it would double its presence in China within three years.

While most hotel operators remain aggressive in their China expansion plans, industry analysts warned that market entry could be increasingly difficult in the country as the industry matures and becomes more competitive.

"Finding a well-located project to manage will become tougher, although with the myriad of brands at their disposal, there is certain flexibility when choosing sites," Rob McIntosh, executive director of CBRE Hotels Asia Pacific, wrote in a recent report.

"However, large international players still have a competitive advantage in brand recognition over local players as customers may prefer international branded lower-cost alternatives to five-star hotels, rather than paying more for an up-scale domestic brand."


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