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Marriott’s (MAR) W Hotels Brand Gears Up to Debut in Italy


Marriott International, Inc. MAR recently announced its plans to debut the iconic W Hotels Worldwide brand in Italy with the opening of W Rome in 2021. The hotel will be conveniently located near the famed Spanish Steps and the chic boutiques of Via Condotti.

Developed by Omnam Group via a real estate fund that is managed by Kryalos SGR, W Rome will be set across two historic buildings in the vibrant Via Veneto neighborhood. Notably, Via Veneto has been the nucleus of Roman social life and the go-to destination for pleasure-seekers for decades.

Along with 159 classy guest rooms and suites, including a decadent Extreme WOW suite, the hotel will also encompass the W Living Room, two vibrant restaurants, a FIT workout facility, a spa, the brand's signature Whatever/Whenever service and over 120 square meters of advanced event space. Additionally, on its expansive rooftop, W Rome plans to feature a signature destination bar.

Consequently, W Rome is set to become the bustling centerpiece of the neighborhood, a must-visit location in the city and bring in a distinct social style of contemporary luxury to the Roman hospitality scene.

Meanwhile, W Hotels flaunts a worldwide portfolio of 50 properties and is on track to reach 75 hotels by 2020. The latest signing of this hotel in Rome follows the rising demand of luxury travel and endorses unstoppable growth of the brand in the European region.

W Hotels presently operates seven properties in the region with 10 new hotels in the pipeline. While W Tel Aviv is likely to be launched in early 2018, W Hotels in Madrid, Belgrade and Portugal's spectacular Algarve coast are projected to open in 2019, followed by Prague and Budapest in 2020. Also, W Hotels is scheduled to mark its entry in Marbella and Edinburgh in 2021, along with Rome.

Meanwhile, it is to be noted that in addition to domestic lands, Marriott is consistently trying to expand its presence worldwide and capitalize on the demand for hotels in the international markets, especially in Asia, Latin America, Middle East and Africa.

The company’s European pipeline has also grown consistently in the recent past and is expected to continue, going forward. By 2020, Marriott aims to expand its lead in the luxury and full-service segments in the region, have the largest portfolio in the upscale division and also win over millennials in the affordable lifestyle group.

In fact, after announcing the acquisition of Starwood Hotels & Resorts on Sep 23, 2016, Marriott has become the world’s largest hotel company. Currently, it has more than 6,200 properties across 125 countries and territories, under 30 brand names. Post-acquisition, shares of the company have also soared 62.5% while the S&P 500 gained 16.2%.

Given a steady rise in business and leisure travel, Marriott is poised to grow in the near as well as long term. Further, investments in technology for hotel bookings are likely to improve guest experience and thus boost occupancy.

In addition, the company believes that the linking of three industry-leading guest loyalty programs — Marriott Rewards, Ritz-Carlton Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest — would lead to an even larger loyalty community.

However, lingering political uncertainties in key international markets along with currency headwinds remain concerns for Marriott and most of the other hotel chains including Hyatt Hotels Corporation H, Hilton Worldwide Holdings HLT and Wyndham Worldwide Corporation WYN.

Notwithstanding the headwinds, this Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) company’s continual expansion efforts and an unmatched portfolio of lodging brands, raises optimism in the stock. You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

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