New-look Marriotts to focus on 'work and play'

Renovation of Middle East hotels part of global brand upgrade

The lobby lounge at JW Marriott Marquis Dubai is inspired by the Great Room concept, with space to relax, meet, connect and dine.
The lobby lounge at JW Marriott Marquis Dubai is inspired by the Great Room concept, with space to relax, meet, connect and dine.

A Marriott International company-wide brand uplift of its core Marriott Hotels and Resorts brand, which comprises around 500 hotels in 60 countries, will focus on three pillars of style, technology and the notion that work and play are no longer interchangeable.

According to senior vice president of brand management, Marriott Hotels and Resorts and JW Marriott Hotels Paul Cahill, the aim is to make the brand “relevant again to a new consumer”, based on years of research into macro and micro travel trends.

He said Marriott had concluded that with the next generation, there is no “on/off” switch between work and play; “it’s like a dial”.

“It’s a little bit more play or a little bit more work and it varies throughout the course of the day,” said Cahill. “This idea that work and play aren’t separate and travel; actually enhances your work and personal life”.

Linked to this is technology and the need to be connected, whether for business or leisure.
“Without technology they can’t do anything; that dial becomes a switch,” he says. “So our strategy is about enabling technology…if you can’t connect then you can’t really stay”.

Thirdly, he said “style really matters” to this next generation.

“So what we have been typically been known for as a company and as a brand is a lot of substance. You can count on us we are dependable, safe, clean. All those things are really still important to this next generation but they also want brands that have a point of view and reflect their aspirational lifestyle,” he observed.

Marriott has various initiatives underway to deliver services to meet these trends, such as its Travel Brilliantly campaign which invites suggestions for new services from guests.

The company has also conceived of the ‘Great Room’ for its lobbies, which will aim to offer a “multitude” of activities; communal work desks, relaxing areas, private meeting areas, dining spaces with a “5, 10, 20” menu offering food available in five, 10 or 20 minutes, and free Wi-Fi, already implemented. By the end of 2013, 755 of Marriott’s hotels should have a Great Room, said Cahill.

In the Middle East, a number of older properties will undergo renovation, with the timeline for completion 24 months from now.

Upcoming hotel Dubai Marriott Hotel Zabeel in Dubai will be the first new-build to incorporate some of the new elements, while the residential feel of JW Marriott Marquis Dubai is already a good example of the style the brand is focused on achieving.

“In the short term you will see guest room and lobby renovations, technology changes,” said Cahill. “Some hotels will get parts some full transformations. The Jordan Valley Resort is going to be doing a lobby in the next six to eight months. In Riyadh, phase one of rooms has started…Petra was renovated last year”.

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