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Big hotel brands push hard into emerging markets

Hotel operators Marriott International and Hilton Hotels & Resorts both announced this week that they are about to embark on major new property investment programmes in emerging markets.

Marriot International has decided to “more than double its South American portfolio” within “the next five years.”

The company plans to add 12 properties to its five currently in Brazil, as well as take the number of Colombian locations to seven from two, according to an announcement from chief executive and president of Marriott Arne Sorenson.

Sorenson told OPP that Marriott has an “exciting opportunity in Latin America, the Caribbean and Asia.”

He anticipates “a growing middle class in those countries whose near-future incomes will allow them more for pleasure as well as for business.”

Marriott has 35 hotels signed and under development in the Caribbean and Latin America.

And Hilton Hotels & Resorts, the flagship brand of Hilton Worldwide, is moving into Lebanon with the opening of two new hotels in its capital, Beirut.

Owned and developed by the UAE-based conglomerate Al Habtoor Group, the 183-room Hilton Beirut Metropolitan Palace and its sister property, the 195-room Hilton Habtoor Grand are now officially operating as Hilton-branded hotels following a five month conversion programme.

The two neighbouring hotels are located in the Sin El Fil district of Beirut, a prime residential and retail area of the city, close to the Mediterranean coast as well as ski resorts in Lebanon's nearby mountain region.

"Bringing our brand to Beirut with the openings of these two hotels is an important milestone for us" Dave Horton, global head, Hilton Hotels & Resorts told OPP this week.

“Guests at both landmark hotels will experience the very best in Lebanese hospitality coupled with the service standards that define Hilton."

And Rudi Jagersbacher, president, Hilton Worldwide, Middle East & Africa said: "Beirut is a cosmopolitan melting pot of culture and attractions and I'm delighted Hilton Worldwide now has a presence in this dynamic, colourful city. Today's announcement underpins our confidence and commitment in the Middle East and is another step towards our goal of establishing a hotel in every key city in the region."

The Beirut openings take the number of hotels operated by Hilton Worldwide to 55 with properties in 18 countries across Middle East & Africa. The company has a signed development pipeline of a further 39 properties in the region including Saudi Arabia, Uganda, Cape Verde, Nigeria, Jordan, UAE, Egypt and, later this month, Hilton Doha will open in Qatar.

OPP - 20-April-2012

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