KUALA LUMPUR (July 22): Marriott International, Inc. continues to deepen its footing in Malaysia and embark on hotel expansion, with plans for three more properties in the pipeline this year, despite the Covid-19 epidemic, which resulted in mobility restrictions, with hotels disallowed to operate at full capacity.
Rivero Delgado -- Marriott International Area’s vice-president for Singapore, Malaysia and the Maldives -- said the pandemic has indeed impacted the hotel business, but it has not stopped the American multinational hotel chain operator from adapting, innovating, or expanding its business.
"In a year unlike any other, our ability to remain nimble has been crucial as we navigate through an unprecedented time in history. Amidst a global pandemic, we are driven to continually challenge the status quo and anticipate our customers’ changing needs with new brands, new global locations, and new guest experiences," she told Bernama in an interview.
In line with the global expansion strategy, Delgado said Marriott opened the first Courtyard by Marriott brand hotel in Penang last year, with the 199-room hotel marking the debut of the brand in the country.
She said Marriott is also expanding its presence with the second Fairfield by Marriott property, the Fairfield by Marriott Kuala Lumpur Jalan Pahang, Four Points by Sheraton Desaru, and Lone Pine Penang -- all scheduled to open in the fourth quarter of this year.
"We have also recently signed an agreement with IOI Properties to introduce the very first Tribute Portfolio brand hotel in Malaysia, the Palm Garden Hotel Putrajaya. Whether at home or staying with us, Marriott International is resolutely optimistic about the future of Asia and will be offering guests memorable experiences in the coming years, with safety and hygiene as a continued priority," she added.
Marriott International is expected to open 100 properties in Asia Pacific in 2021, after celebrating its 800th milestone hotel opening in the region with 75 properties added to its portfolio last year.
"Nearly 27,000 rooms were added to the region’s development pipeline in 2020 alone. This speaks volumes about the company’s optimism towards the return of travel," she said.
Asked on the difference in Marriott's expansion plan between pre-Covid-19 and present, Delgado said there is still a lot of uncertainty, given the fluidity of the pandemic, hence, the hotelier has had to review and adjust its business models to adapt to the shift in market demands.
"We needed to readjust our business strategies and evolve our business priorities. People will want options that are closer to home, more affordable, and health and safety are and will be paramount. Our expansion plans in Malaysia are mapped out in anticipation of these needs," she said.
On the hotel's food and beverage business (F&B), Delgado said the pandemic has spurred a boom in food delivery, and F&B has traditionally been a brick-and-mortar offering but with the current situation, Marriott is seeing an increased uptake in food delivery demand.
Hence, Marriott hotels have pivoted to embrace new and elevated experiences for takeaway and delivery services and this can be seen with the recent region-wide collaboration with GrabFood.
"This collaboration is Marriott International’s first extensive integration with the Grab platform and Grab’s most comprehensive agreement with a hospitality group to date, offering customers a world of premium dining at their fingertips," she said.
Meanwhile, it was reported recently that Malaysia’s hard-hit hospitality industry has seen at least 120 hotels ceasing operations either temporarily or permanently and resulted in a loss of about RM11.3 billion.
Until Sunday, Malaysia's total confirmed cases stood at 893,323 cases, with new daily cases at 12,541 cases.
However, with the Covid-19 vaccine rollout underway, 4.16 million Malaysians have been fully vaccinated until Sunday, with the daily vaccination rate surging to 460,158 persons.
Malaysia now boasts one of the fastest vaccination rates in the world, doling out more than 400,000 doses a day, out-performed in the past week only by Canada among countries of a similar size or greater – and double the pace of Australia.
On Friday, among Southeast Asian countries, Indonesia logged 54,000 new daily cases, while Malaysia (12,541), Thailand (9,692), Myanmar (6,194), the Philippines (5,676), and Vietnam (3,336). All states, except Singapore and Brunei have witnessed a rising trend in the number of new cases.
According to the latest data collected by OurWorldInData.org, among 10 ASEAN member countries, Singapore has the highest vaccine coverage with 42.4 per cent of the population fully vaccinated, followed by Cambodia (24.5 per cent), Malaysia (13.1 per cent), Laos (9.4 per cent), Indonesia (5.9 per cent), Thailand (4.8 per cent), Brunei (4.3 per cent), the Philippines (3.7 per cent), Myanmar (2.8 per cent), and Vietnam (0.3 per cent).
To achieve herd immunity, at least 80 per cent of the population has to be fully vaccinated.
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