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JW Marriott upbeat about Asia-Pac's luxury-travel segment

Christy Donato, vice-president of global brand management at JW Marriott Hotels and Resorts, says JW Marriott has been eyeing Singapore as a market, but has waited to snag the right location.


THE Asia-Pacific luxury-travel market is growing robustly despite the uncertain economic climate, said Christy Donato, vice-president of global brand management at JW Marriott Hotels and Resorts.

"We've looked quite closely at it and we know that the luxury-travel segment has grown by 50 per cent over the last five years - that's twice as much of any other type of travel."

In Singapore for the soft opening of the JW Marriott Hotel Singapore South Beach, she said it was "very fortuitous timing" that JW Marriott has been able to ride on the growth in luxury travel.

JW Marriott Hotel Singapore South Beach, Singapore's first JW Marriott Hotel, is a five-star hotel with 634 rooms; the Beach Road hotel opens its doors to the public on Dec 15.

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It will be the luxury brand's 80th hotel in 27 countries; another 45 are in the pipeline. The Asia-Pacific region (including India) alone now has 32 JW Marriott hotels, with another 23 in the pipeline.

"We feel very confident of the strength of the brand in this region, in general the Asia-Pacific," she said.

JW Marriott Hotels and Resorts, which serves the luxury segment, has been eyeing Singapore as a market for a long time, but has wanted to snag the right location.

"For us, it is really important to find that really iconic hotel that's a destination - not only in the local market, but one that becomes a global destination," said Ms Donato.

She added that Singapore is a key destination globally, with annual visitor arrivals from Asia hitting 11 million yearly, with many travellers from India and China.

The general manager of JW Marriott Hotel Singapore South Beach, Derek Flint, said: "There are so many corporations around us, we are right in the heart of the art district, we are walking distance from some of the most iconic attractions in Singapore, so this is really a great location."

Noting that the hotel's complex includes three heritage buildings, he said guests with an interest in culture will be able to look forward to heritage and art tours.

"Because we are in the middle of the art district, the chairman's wife curated the artwork that is in the hotel," he said.

The hotel also houses the second spa by JW Marriott in the Asia-Pacific, and nine food-and-beverage outlets.

JW Marriott has been appointed by the South Beach Consortium - comprising City Developments Ltd (CDL) and IOI Properties - to run the hotel at South Beach, a mixed-used development consisting of the hotel, office space, residences and retail outlets.

Following the US$13 billion acquisition of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide in September this year, Marriott International now owns eight luxury brands in its stable. Four of those luxury brands are in Singapore, namely Ritz-Carlton, St Regis, W Hotels and now, JW Marriott.

With the addition of Starwood's portfolio, Marriott International now has a total 30 hotel brands globally under its umbrella, making it the world's largest chain. (The 30 brands include hotels branded as Marriott, such as the Marriott Singapore Tang Plaza.)

Said Ms Donato: "We are constantly looking for the right opportunities in the right markets for the right hotel."

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