Q4 2020 Covid development update: Marriott International

by | 17 Oct 2020 | Portfolio

We explore how hotel giant Marriott International’s development pipeline has held up month-by-month amid the unprecedented headwinds caused by coronavirus, with the help of exclusive data from the TOPHOTELPROJECTS construction database.

The hospitality sector has been shaken to its core by the Covid19 pandemic, and industry heavyweights like Marriott are having to adapt fast to the realities of doing business in a trading environment that would have been unimaginable just 12 months ago.

Founded by husband-and-wife team J Willard and Alice Marriott in 1927 with the launch of a single root-beer stand in Washington DC, the company grew steadily in the first half of the 20th century before floating in 1953, opening its first hotel in 1957, and expanding rapidly throughout the US and overseas in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Today, the Maryland-headquartered group boasts more than 7,400 properties across 135 countries and territories, with an extraordinary 30-strong brand portfolio spanning the likes of JW Marriott, The Ritz-Carlton, W Hotels, St Regis and Edition in the luxury segment; and Marriott, Sheraton, Westin, Renaissance and Delta in the premium category.

However, this unrivalled scale has left it highly vulnerable as country after country has rushed to introduce curfews, travel bans and lockdowns to try and keep infection rates down over recent months.

Marriott keeps on building despite coronavirus

Here, we reveal some key development stats compiled by our research team to try and better understand how the NASDAQ-listed hotel company is weathering the storm:

In progress
On hold
Cancelled this month
Marriott International
Marriott International
Marriott International
Marriott International
Marriott International
Marriott International

The above table shows that, according to our database, Marriott had 986 hotel projects in progress as of 30 April 2020 – when the Covid19 outbreak was really starting to bite in its home market, the US, as well as its key strongholds in Europe. This figure dropped slightly over the course of the summer, but then actually recovered to some extent in the autumn, with 967 active schemes recorded as of 2 October. To put this into context, it means that Marriott’s hotel development pipeline has in fact only shrunk by a modest 2% between the end of April and the start of October.

We’ve also seen relatively little change when it comes to projects being mothballed. In total, 126 schemes were listed as on hold as of 30 April, and this number, which has fluctuated somewhat in the ensuing months, has increased to 135 as of 2 October. This represents a 7% rise in the number of inactive Marriott projects on our books – a concerning increase in normal circumstances, but probably still a lot smaller than many industry observers had feared when Covid19 began to tear up travel plans worldwide.

However, the picture around how many projects have been scrapped altogether is much less clear. Nine projects were cancelled in the month leading up to 30 April 2020, compared to 13 in the month ending 2 October 2020, which represents a worrying 44% rise. However, it remains to be seen whether the most recent stat is merely an outlier or a sign of things to come, and those of an optimistic nature may well point to the fact that the corresponding figure stood at just four a mere two months earlier – in all honesty, the numbers we’re dealing with here are relatively small, so a single atypical month can really skew the overall impression.

Also, we ought to mention at this juncture that even before the pandemic, it was perfectly normal for a significant proportion of schemes to fall by the wayside – maybe because of spiralling costs, partners withdrawing, priorities changing or countless other reasons – so we should be careful not to blame Covid19 for every project that’s been suspended or ditched. Moreover, we will no doubt see some of the schemes currently listed as mothballed being brought back online and realised in the end, just as we have in previous years.

Marriott’s pipeline progresses around the world

Perhaps the fundamental message emerging from our research is that Marriott is continuing to progress the vast majority of its hotel projects despite the virus – and that its expansion rate has only decreased slightly. This is reflected in the fact that the company has managed to advance a whole host of high-profile schemes recently, including opening the 466-room JW Marriott Anaheim Resort Hotel in California; The Ritz-Carlton, Nikko in Japan; and a spectacular 513-key dual-branded JW Marriott and Courtyard by Marriott property in China.

Ultimately, the data reveals that Marriott still has nearly 1,000 active projects on the go, with the hotel giant seemingly calculating that 2020 will be a one-off, rather than the start of several years of sustained low demand. Hospitality industry professionals everywhere will no doubt be hoping that this measured approach pays off in the long run.

Click here to read our exclusive Q4 2020 Covid development update series in full: Marriott International | Hilton Worldwide | Accor | IHG | Hyatt Hotels Corporation | Radisson Hotel Group | The Ascott | Wyndham Hotel Group | What the data tells us

Many TOPHOTELNEWS articles draw on exclusive information from the TOPHOTELPROJECTS construction database. This subscription-based product includes details of thousands of hotel projects around the world, along with the key decision-makers behind them. Please note, our data may differ from records held by other organisations. Generally, the database focuses on four- and five-star schemes of significant scale; tracks projects in either the vision, pre-planning, planning, under-construction, pre-opening or newly opened phase; and covers newbuilds, extensions, refurbishments and conversions.

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Marriott International is based in Bethesda, Maryland and encompasses a portfolio of more than 7,000 properties around the world.