Marriott to Expand across Africa

AC Hotel by Marriott Cape Town Waterfront

Expanding on the news of five new hotel signings, Marriott International (NASDAQ: MAR) revealed at the Africa Hotel Investment Forum (AHIF) in Nairobi, Kenya, that it plans rapid expansion in Africa. According to the company, it’s on track for an increase of over 200 hotels and 38,000 rooms in five years, generating approximately 12,000 jobs. The new signings further consolidate Marriott's presence in Ghana, Kenya, Morocco and South Africa, and additionally gives it entrée into Mozambique. The company says these five projects will drive an estimated investment of over $250 million by the property owners and generate substantial economic activity.

“Marriott International’s acquisition of Protea Hotels followed by the acquisition of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide has given an impetus to our organic growth on the continent. Today we are seeing strong owner interest in our brands, backed by our combined loyalty program, the collective strength of our global platform and our highly-experienced, local teams,” said Alex Kyriakidis, president and managing director, Middle East and Africa, Marriott International. “African economies have sustained unprecedented rates of growth, which have mainly been driven by a strong domestic demand, improved macroeconomic management and increased political stability. The continent is still under capacity as far as branded hotel supply is concerned, presenting us with a fantastic opportunity to grow our brands and enhance our footprint,” he added.

Marriott International is present in 21 countries in Africa: Algeria, Djibouti, Egypt, Ethiopia, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Malawi, Mali, Mauritius, Morocco, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, Seychelles, South Africa, Tanzania, Tunisia, Uganda and Zambia. It expects to expand into new locations including Benin, Botswana, Ivory Coast, Mauritania, Mozambique and Senegal.

Conversion strategy stimulates growth

Marriott International continues to see increased interest from owners looking to maximize the value of their assets quickly, with many conversion opportunities across Africa. “The increasing demand for conversion deals from new and existing partners is a strong reflection of Marriott International’s powerful network, loyal customer base and commitment to deliver value for owners,” said Kyriakidis. “We’ve developed a conversion-friendly strategy, which allows us to deliver value to our partners through a flexible, cost-efficient process that yields almost immediate results. That strategy gives our partners access to world-class reservation systems and our loyalty program.”

Recent conversions to the company’s brands include Four Points by Sheraton Nairobi, Hurlingham, Four Points by Sheraton Arusha, The Arusha Hotel, Tanzania and the iconic Mena House, Cairo which joined the Marriott Hotels and Resorts global brand portfolio earlier this year.

Among new conversion deals, Marriott International has signed the 360-room Marriott Marrakech Hotel in Morocco. Plans call for it to be rebranded in 2020.

Select-Service Brands in Growth Mix

Marriott International’s select-service brands, including Four Points by Sheraton, Protea Hotels by Marriott and AC Hotels by Marriott, are part of the growth mix on the continent.

Three hotels in the works under the Protea Hotels by Marriott brand are Protea Hotel by Marriott, Accra Kotoka Airport, Ghana; Protea Hotel by Marriott Nairobi, Kenya; and Protea Hotel by Marriott Pretoria Loftus Park, South Africa.

Other select-service hotels are Four Points by Sheraton Nampula, Mozambique; AC by Marriott Cape Town, Waterfront (see above photo); and AC by Marriott Umhlanga Ridge, Kwazulu Natal, Durban.

The company expects to introduce its other well-known select-service brands to Africa, such as Aloft Hotels, Element, Courtyard by Marriott and Residence Inn by Marriott, with hotels already under development. It is also looking for opportunities for Fairfield by Marriott.

Mixed-Use Development Projects

Noting increased interest in mixed-use development, such as where the Four Points by Sheraton Nampula, Mozambique, and the AC by Marriott Umhlanga Ridge, Kwazulu Natal, Durban, are located, Kyriakidis said, “As cities evolve and grow into flourishing urban centers, we will continue to see a lot of activity in this space. An international hotel brand can bring cachet to a project that positions it significantly above its peers. Our portfolio of diverse brands lends itself to grow in all markets providing developers the flexibility and choice to identify the right brand for the right location. We believe this also provides an incredible opportunity to develop branded residences with our luxury brands such as The Ritz-Carlton, St. Regis and W Hotels and we are actively pursuing this. Today our brands account for nearly 60 percent of the global hospitality-branded residences market.”

He added, “Africa is a very compelling story for us. With our history on the continent, our footprint and strong pipeline, a diverse portfolio of brands and a robust management infrastructure, we believe that we enjoy the trust and the confidence of Africa’s hotel development community.”

Photo: AC Hotel by Marriott Cape Town Waterfront, courtesy Marriott International

Don Sniegowski