WASHINGTON -- Marriott International opened its 2,000th hotel in
late April, fulfilling its goal to have 2,000 hotels by the end of
2000 with plenty of time to spare, but already the Washington-based
company is moving on to bigger game.
The 2,000th hotel, the Tampa (Fla.) Marriott Waterside,
represents an undisputed milestone for the company, which began in
1927 as a small root beer stand.
"Obviously, we feel very good about it," said Scott Melby,
senior vice president for feasibility and planning at Marriott. We
targeted 2,000 hotels by the end of 2000 several years ago, and
we're very pleased with the accomplishment."
From that original root beer operation, Marriott's growth has
been accomplished in an array of brands: Marriott, Renaissance,
Residence Inn, Courtyard by Marriott, Fairfield Inn by Marriott,
TownePlace Suites by Marriott and SpringHill Suites by
The company also owns Ramada International and Ritz-Carlton,
which essentially operates independently.
But Marriott is not resting on its laurels. The hotelier's new
goal is to have 2,600 hotels and 480,000 rooms by the end of
A daunting figure? Apparently not.
"I'm comfortable with it," said Melby, who added that two-thirds
of the additional 600 properties are already in the development
According to Melby, depending on the size of the hotel and its
complexity of design, a property can take more than two years to
But calculations show that Marriott will add more than 175,000
rooms in a matter of a few years.
Melby said about 45% of these rooms will belong to the
full-service categories, such as Marriott, Renaissance, and
Ritz-Carlton. These same brands will represent about a quarter of
all new hotels.
The five limited-service brands -- Fairfield Inn, Courtyard,
TownePlace Suites, SpringHill Suites and Residence Inn -- will
comprise the remainder of new properties, and Melby said Courtyard
and the extended-stay brands (Residence Inn and TownePlace Suites)
would receive some emphasis.
For observers wondering where the panoply of Marriott brands
will end, relief seems to be in sight.
"I think at this point, we've addressed most of the segments
that would come to peoples' minds, save the hard budget category,"
Marriott has made its aversion to the budget segment well known.
As the company's portfolio is already heavily focused in the U.S.,
Melby indicated that international growth would be a priority. The
publicly stated goal is to have hotels in 70 countries in the next
Melby said Marriott's international distribution will be
determined by the brand. In full-service brands, such as the
company's Marriott and Renaissance divisions, about half of the
growth will be overseas.
Melby said Marriott expected to be "very successful in Europe,
the Middle East and Africa."
He added that the firm was not worried about the ripple effect
of overseas economic earthquakes.
"One of the advantages of being a global company is that it's
rare that all areas of the world would all be affected in a
downward manner," said Melby. "If we were affected in one area, we
could make up for it in another."
While the international markets will see a good chunk of the
firm's full-service growth, about 90% of the limited-service
action, in such brands as Courtyard and Fairfield Inn, will take
place in the U.S.
Marriott will continue to concentrate its management efforts on
In limited-service hotels, it's more likely that the property
will be a franchise, owned and managed by another company. Melby
said about 80% of limited-service hotel growth will be through
"We tend to be very rigorous in our review of both the economics
as well as market feasibility in each and all of our projects,"
said Melby. "The last thing we want to do is place the wrong
product in the wrong market."
One of Marriott's biggest efforts, relative to the existing
portfolio, is the development of Ritz-Carlton.
Melby said the company plans to open nearly 40 Ritz-Carlton
hotels by the end of 2003, and more than 25 of those projects are
already under way. All told, the additions will nearly double the
size of Ritz-Carlton.