Marriott scores Japanese conversions

A collaboration with Japanese hotel owner and operator HMI Group will see Marriott rebrand seven of the company's hotels across Japan to the Marriott and Courtyard brands, improving their international visibility.

Marriott International is to rebrand seven hotels in Japan, adding substantially to its presence in the market. An agreement with Japanese owner and operator HMI will see four of its properties rebrand to Marriott hotels, while three will switch to the Courtyard by Marriott brand.

The strategic partnership is with HMI Hotel Group, an established Japanese operator that currently has 44 hotels across the country which have, to date, operated under one of the company’s own brands such as Crown Palais, Ryokan, Pearl City, Sea Park, Green Park and Creston.

Increasing international appeal

“With this strategic collaboration, HMI Hotel Group aims to redefine excellence in guest service while unlocking growth opportunities in key markets,” said HMI president Ryuko Hira. “By leveraging Marriott International’s expertise, the collaboration promises to introduce innovative services and amenities tailored to meet the evolving needs of modern travellers.”

HMI’s Grand Hotel Hamamastu will become the Hamamastu Marriott, while the Hotel Heian no Mori Kyoto shifts to Kyoto Marriott. A similar fate awaits the Hotel Crown Palais Kobe, while the Rizzan Seamark Hotel Tancha Bay will become the Okinawa Marriott Rizzan Resort & Spa.

Marriott’s portfolio addition comes as the Japanese hotel market finally makes its way back towards pre-pandemic levels of performance. Consultants CBRE note that room rates have advanced, even though average occupancy levels, as of February 2024, remained 11% behind those of 2019. However, business and city hotels are performing strongly, in 2024 already seeing room night sales 16% and 13% ahead of 2019 levels.

Going for growth

The Japanese government believes international visitor numbers will hit a record 33m during 2024, rising to 60m by 2030. And this strong outlook has encouraged international investors, who accounted for 46% of hotel investment deals in 2023, the highest proportion since 2007. For the full year, CBRE calculates more than JNY500bn of hotels changed hands. During 2024, domestic investors are expected to get back into the market in greater volumes, along with Japan’s hotel reits. Buyers are likely to favour hotels in the luxury and upscale segments, as well as looking for assets in the co-living space.