Marriott now India’s largest hotel chain

DELHI: In a move that changes the top order of India’s biggest hotel companies, global hotel chain Marriott has overtaken Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces to officially become India’s largest hotel company with 79 operating hotels and 18,000 rooms post the successful global acquisition of Starwood, reports The Economic Times.

On Friday, Marriott International announced that it has completed the acquisition of Starwood Hotels and Resorts, creating the world’s largest hotel company, and bringing together 30 hotel brands. The new company will now operate or franchise more than 5,700 properties and 1.1 million rooms, with Marriott’s distribution more than doubling in Asia and the middle East. The new merged entity will open 80 new hotels in the next three to four years in India with 100 in the pipeline, said Rajeev Menon, chief operations officer, Asia Pacific (excluding greater China) at Marriott International.

“We operate 14 brands in India now with the 15th one W opening very soon in Goa. As a company we have always been bullish on India. It is our second most important market after China,” he added.

Menon ruled out drastic rightsizing of the staff in India as a result of the merger. “We are not going to see too much of transitioning or letting go of associates. With 80 hotels coming up in the next 3-4 years and a pipeline of 100, we need associates. There are not many markets in the world where you see this kind of a growth story,” he said.

Menon stated the company will announce the new organisation structure in the coming weeks with both Dilip Puri, Starwood’s managing director for India and Neeraj Govil, market VP, South Asia reporting to him in the interim period.

He expects the mid market segment to drive bigger growth for the combined entity in India. “While there remain ample growth opportunities for other luxury brands, it’s the mid market space with brands like Courtyard by Marriott, Aloft, and Four Points that will grow at a much faster pace as we get into secondary and tertiary markets here,” he added.

Marriott also announced that it will match member status across Marriott rewards – which includes The Ritz-Carlton Rewards – and Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG), enabling members to transfer points between the loyalty programmes for travel and exclusive experiences when they link their accounts.

Globally, the company’s board of directors has increased from 11 to 14 members, with the addition of Bruce Duncan, former chairman of the board of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, and and president, CEO and director of First Industrial Real Estate Trust, Eric Hippeau, partner, Lerer Hippeau Ventures, and Aylwin Lewis, chairman and CEO of Potbelly Corporation. The company will grow to over 500 hotels across Asia Pacific which is about 166,000 rooms.

“We are committed to every single brand. The reason for acquisition is based on one word-growth. Growth for our associates, stronger portfolio for customers for owners, development partners and shareholders. We have come together as two formidable hospitality companies with very strong individualities,” Menon said.

While Starwood with its focus on leisure hotels has had a much bigger presence in Asia, Marriott has been the bigger brand in the western markets.


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