Although Marriott International's global RevPAR still remains substantially below pre-pandemic levels, Marriott CEO Tony Capuano reported marked progress in March and April, buoyed in part by rebounding demand in markets like the U.S. and China.

"In March, we saw the largest month-over-month sequential increase in global occupancy since the beginning of the pandemic," Capuano told investors during the company's first-quarter earnings call on Monday. "We remain very encouraged by the strong recovery in mainland China [and] we've seen demand pick up quickly and meaningfully in countries with early and swift vaccine rollouts, like the U.S., the UAE and Qatar, and in places where airlift has improved or travel restrictions have been relaxed, like Mexico, Macau and the U.S. Virgin Islands."

The North America resort segment has emerged as a particular bright spot for Marriott. Leeny Oberg, Marriott's CFO, said that transient room nights for stays 30 days out or more at Marriott's resort properties are currently 60% above 2019 levels. Moreover, Marriott's resort property rates are nearly 20% higher than they were in 2019.

"We expect overall leisure demand will strengthen further into the summer months in the U.S. and Canada," said Oberg. "Occupancy on the books for our resorts in the region is higher relative to the same time in 2019 for every month through the end of the year."

During the call, Capuano also highlighted continued expansion of the Homes & Villas by Marriott International vacation rental platform, which has grown to approximately 30,000 listings globally, versus around 25,000 as of mid-February. 

Although he acknowledged that the Homes & Villas business hasn't had "a material impact" from a financial standpoint, it has emerged as a strong pillar within the Marriott Bonvoy loyalty program ecosystem, with Capuano calling the unit "complimentary to our portfolio of hotel brands" and "a popular way for members to earn and redeem points."

For Q1, which ended March 31, Marriott reported a loss of $11 million. The company's first-quarter revenue was down 51% on the same quarter in 2020, totaling $2.32 billion.

Capuano reported that Marriott's global occupancy totaled 45% in March, up from around a 36% occupancy level in February. 

The U.S. and Canada posted Marriott's second-highest global occupancy level for March, at around 49%; it was up from 33% in January. In mainland China, occupancy recovered to 66% for March, which Capuano said was roughly on par with occupancy in that market during the same month in 2019.

Marriott's global RevPAR for March 2021 was down 53% on the same month in 2019, but Capuano said that it marked an eight-percentage-point improvement on February's RevPAR level, with both the company's systemwide occupancy and RevPAR continuing to make gains into April.

For the full quarter, Marriott posted a worldwide RevPAR decline of 59.1% on the same quarter in 2019 and a 46.3% decline on the same quarter last year.


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