Hotels Marriott thinking big in Caribbean, Latin America By Gay Nagle Myers / May 01, 2012 Share 1 -- Marriott International plans to double the number of properties in the Caribbean and Latin America region within the next five years to take advantage of growing demand, according to CEO Arne Sorenson. The current inventory totals 69 hotels in 25 countries, spread across nine of Marriott’s 18 brands, and the current room count is 17,500. By 2017, Marriott envisions its portfolio in the region rising to more than 140 hotels and 30,000 rooms either opened or in the development pipeline. The expansion will add 14,000 jobs in the region by the end of 2017, up from 13,000 at present, he said. “Latin America is booming, in terms of economic growth and political and institutional stability, which is creating a promising business climate,” Sorenson said. He pointed out that “the rising middle class throughout the region is eager to travel to new places and do business, as well.” “Worldwide we are seeing a golden age of travel, and Latin America is at the forefront,” Sorenson said. “This, combined with the strong performance and preference of our brands in the gateway markets, provides tremendous opportunity for Marriott’s brands and service.” Expansion is already under way. The 288-room Courtyard Mexico City Airport opened earlier this month, the first Courtyard in Mexico City and seventh in Mexico. Currently, Marriott has 35 hotels signed and under development in the region, including the Ritz-Carlton, Aruba; the Ritz-Carlton, Panama; the Port-au-Prince Marriott Hotel in Haiti; the Renaissance Santiago in Chile; and the 153-room JW Marriott Cusco in Peru, which is set to open in August. The property will have seven rooms equipped with oxygen-enriched ventilation systems to relieve altitude sickness. Also slated to open this year is the Dorado Beach in Puerto Rico, the first Ritz-Carlton Reserve in the Americas. The 115-room property is set to debut in December. The 173-room Marriott in Port-au-Prince is scheduled to open in 2014. Sorenson said at the time of Marriott’s announcement in Haiti last November that “this sends a signal that Haiti is back in business.” Also opening in 2014, in Cartagena, Colombia, will be a 278-room Marriott, marking the brand’s launch in that city. Marriott has two hotels in Bogota and is planning to open in Cali by 2017. A 160-room Marriott is in development in Georgetown, Guyana, with a tentative opening in late 2013. “This is an exciting time for hotel development in Latin America,” said Laurent de Kousemaeker, Marriott International’s chief development officer for the Caribbean and Latin America. “The growing regional demand and broadening market, combined with the lack of consistent domestic hotel product and service, represents a large opportunity to develop upscale, branded hotels as well as multiunit, moderate-tier development platforms with local partners in the region,” he said. Follow Gay Nagle Myers on Twitter @gnmtravelweekly.