There is still huge opportunity for growth in the luxury hotel market with JW Marriott and other high-end brands becoming the fastest-growing unit of Marriott International, executives from the group say. Marriott International, which already has a JW Marriott hotel in Deira, plans to open two more in Dubai. The first of the two new properties is a Dh1.8 billion (US$490 million), two-tower project being built on Sheikh Zayed Road by Emirates Group. It will operate as the JW Marriott Marquis.
Marriott plans to open one of the 807-room towers in 2012, and the second in 2013. The third Dubai JW Marriott hotel is a long-delayed project in Lifestyle City that is not expected to open until 2014. "What we're getting from the luxury customer is that luxury is certainly not dead," said Don Semmler, the executive vice president of global full-service brands for Marriott International. "Everybody wants to have the best experience possible but they're considering it more of an investment now, and they want to make sure that it's their family's best vacation and it's really high value."
The company's portfolio includes the flagship Marriott Hotels and Resorts, Renaissance boutique hotels and Courtyard, the business hotel chain. The company also owns the Ritz-Carlton, which it acquired in the 1990s. The global hotel industry was hit hard by the economic downturn, but Marriott plans to open 10 JW Marriott hotels this year in locations including China, Turkey and the US. "There's a big gap between what is considered uber-luxury and the quality tier," said Mitzi Gaskins, the senior director of the JW Marriott brand. "JW Marriott fits this need for a luxury level that is much more approachable."
Mr Semmler said there was a move away from customers looking for extreme opulence. "As we research the luxury customer, we're finding that in many markets they don't want anything that is over the top," he said. Mr Semmler said the company had even made the Ritz-Carlton slightly less formal. "In Ritz-Carlton, you used to have to wear a jacket to come to dinner," he said. "Today, the wealthiest people on the planet want to come to dinner in their blue jeans. It's about letting people be comfortable in their own skin."
Despite delays to properties that it is waiting to manage, such as the hotel in Lifestyle City, the company is looking at the longer term. firstname.lastname@example.org