Marriott to debut The Westin Maldives Miriandhoo in October

Posted by - August 27, 2018

Marriott International has announced the forthcoming debut of Westin Hotels & Resorts in the Republic of Maldives, with the opening of The Westin Maldives Miriandhoo Resort in October 2018.
Developed by Belluna Co, Japan and Asia Capital PLC, Sri Lanka, The Westin Maldives Miriandhoo Resort is set to further strengthen the Westin brand’s wellness positioning in the Inidan Ocean paradise.
Nestled on a coral island in the Baa Atoll, a designated UNESCO Biosphere Reserve site, The Westin Maldives Miriandhoo Resort will feature 70 villas and suites – 41 on island and 29 over water.
Poised over the sea on stilts and with an area of almost 200 square meters each, the overwater suites are amongst the largest a resort has to offer in the Baa Atoll region. Assembled by Milan-based architects PEIA Associati, the resort’s design takes inspiration from the ocean with an approach towards environmental sustainability.
The dining options include three resort restaurants and a rooftop bar. The all-day dining experience at Island Kitchen combines Chinese, Indian and Maldivian fare. The Pearl is the resort’s specialty restaurant that offers Japanese cuisine in an elegant setting with ocean views.
At Hawker, guests can sample authentic Asian food in a casual and buzzing restaurant and bar with a live kitchen. Finally, the Sunset Bar is a relaxed lounge serving tapas and imaginative cocktails created by talented mixologists.
The resort will also feature Westin’s signature branded spa concept, the Heavenly Spa by Westin, the 24-hour WestinWORKOUT fitness centre and the Westin Kids Club.

Artificial intelligence in hospitality – friend or foe?

Posted by - July 20, 2018

Hotels and travel management companies are increasingly using AI to carry out customer service tasks, which are important in managing bookings and service.
The post Artificial intelligence in hospitality – friend or foe? appeared first on Travel Daily Media.

Marriott International to offer hospitality training programme in Egypt

Posted by - July 19, 2018

Marriott International unveils Tahseen at a signing ceremony in Egypt. Marriott International recently launched Tahseen, its hospitality training programme developed in response to a growing need for talent within the industry, in Eqypt.
Created in partnership with Helwan University and Professional Development Foundation (PDF), the programme is focused on fast-tracking the next generation of hospitality leaders from Egypt by providing them with firsthand experience and a springboard to launch successful careers in the industry.
Tahseen was first launched by Marriott International in Saudi Arabia in 2017 and received very encouraging results paving the way for a wider regional roll out. Egypt is a strategic growth market for the company and was therefore an obvious priority. Tahseen Egypt, which is set to commence in September, provides the technical training that complements the newly initiated “Hotel Management & Operations” Bachelor’s Degree programme created through the joint efforts of the PDF and Helwan University.
Arne Sorenson, president and CEO, Marriott International, said: “Marriott International is a company that believes in putting people first and we are committed to giving our associates the world class training and the opportunity to grow and reach their potential, both personally and professionally.
“Our vision is to develop future leaders, empowered with the knowledge, skills and opportunities to be successful within the hospitality industry, both regionally and globally. Building a sustainable and robust hospitality education programme like Tahseen, that nurtures and builds national talent, is indeed key to our success”.
“Hospitality comes naturally to Egyptians”
Related Posts Alex Kyriakidis, president and managing director Middle East and Africa, Marriott International, added: “Today we employ over 10,200 associates across our hotels in Egypt with 99% of them being local Egyptian nationals. Hospitality comes naturally to Egyptians. We therefore saw an opportunity and felt the need to play a more active role in the development of local talent in a formal and structured manner.
“We are delighted to partner with Helwan University and Professional Development Foundation, for what is truly a pioneering effort in imparting quality hospitality education in the country by opening doors of opportunity for the youth.”
Mohamed Farouk Hafeez, chairman, Professional Development Foundation (PDF), concluded: “I hope that together we will be able to make a valuable contribution in creating a successful and sustainable programme that not only empowers our youth by increasing their employability but also enables them to make a smooth and seamless transition into the professional world.”
Tahseen falls under Marriott International’s new sustainability and social impact platform, Serve 360: Doing Good in Every Direction, which guides how the company makes a positive and sustainable impact wherever it does business.
Marriott International is the largest international operator in Egypt with a footprint of 18 operating hotels and resorts and more than 7,400 rooms across 7 brands. With four hotels in the pipeline, the company will add another 1200 rooms, debuting new brands including St. Regis and Element. By 2020, the hotel giant will have 22 operating hotels with more than 8,600 rooms.

‘Alexa, order my breakfast’: Why Marriott brought in Amazon to personalise hotels

Posted by - July 17, 2018

Marriott International recently announced the arrival of Alexa, Amazon’s voice-activated service, to enhance their guests’ experience and customer service, at its portfolio of hotels
“Our guests regularly tell us they want the same conveniences they have at home to be present when they travel – and integrating Alexa for Hospitality in our properties helps us achieve that guest request. Similar to any time we try something new, we will be listening to guest feedback in the coming months in order to evaluate next steps,” said the announcement.
The has come as no surprise, as Marriott announced that it had piloted both Amazon’s ‘Alexa’ and Apple’s ‘Siri’ voice assistants in its Aloft hotel in Boston last year. Alexa for Hospitality, which is supported on Amazon Echo, Echo Dot and Echo Plus models, will be initially integrated into 10 US hotels over the course of the summer months, with a greater uptake expected depending on overall feedback.
The service will provide travellers with four focus areas to help their stay: information, entertainment, service requests and home features. Information provides guests with answers to queries about their location – such as weather; entertainment will allow access to music, audiobooks or podcasts; service requests could notify reception for room service, for example; home features allows guests to dim room lights or change the thermostat settings.
“Features developed by DigiValet, Intelity, Nuvola, and Volara”
A spokesperson for Amazon said: “Alexa for Hospitality is built to work with existing hotel technologies, reducing or eliminating the need to retrofit or upgrade existing investments, and works with a range of trusted hospitality solution providers. Features developed by DigiValet, Intelity, Nuvola, and Volara allow guests to make requests like ‘Alexa, order wine,’ or ‘Alexa, book a spa appointment,’ with requests routed to hotel property management systems.
Tracey Schroeder, a spokesperson for Marriott International said: “We recognised that voice-first experiences have become an increasingly important channel for our guests and are eager to hear guest feedback and learn how they use Alexa to add convenience to their stays.”
Alexa will be adapted to match the brand outlook in the Marriott portfolio: Westin, with its brand emphasis on well-being, could offer guests voice-assisted local information focusing on health and fitness, or ambient noise to aid sleep, or to advise on local restaurants for dietary requirements. Marriott has announced that its partnership with TED Talks will allow guests access to the latest talks on leadership, creativity, mindfulness and similar hot topics in demand with its client base.
Related Posts In the post-GDPR landscape, and after issues that have risen around voice-activated technology ranging from the weird to the dystopian, the question of guests’ privacy and security looms large. Both Marriott and Amazon have gone to great lengths to emphasise that the new technology will be both safe and secure.
“Voice recordings will be automatically deleted daily”
Schroeder explained: “Guests don’t need to share personal information with Amazon to use Alexa in their hotel room, nor does the hotel need to provide guest information to Amazon. Voice recordings will be automatically deleted daily. When you check out, Alexa will disconnect your Amazon account from the in-room device.”
What remains unclear is how it will be received. Business executives tend to be tech-savvy partly because of the demands of their job, and partly through intellectual curiosity, yet having a listening device in a private space might be unsettling for some.
However, Marriott International point out that the service is an opt-in, rather than being built-in; therefore guests will have to switch on Alexa in their hotel room to use voice activation.
“Alexa for Hospitality is muted as a default, requiring guests to unmute the device in order to use it. Guests can disable Alexa’s ability to hear and respond to the wake word at any time simply by pressing the mute button on top of the Echo device in their room,” added Schroeder.
Marriott will use the technology’s analytics to monitor how much guest engagement occurs through Alexa in the trial run of 10 hotels. The company will gauge the popularity for voice-activated interaction, but the hotelier hopes that a broader range of services will soon be on offer, allowing guests to personalize their experience by logging-on to services such as Amazon Music, Spotify and Audible.
It is likely that this is the first step in a revolution for hoteliers worldwide, with other brands likely to be keeping a close eye on the outcome of the pilot. Las Vegas-based Wynn Resorts announced in 2016 that it would equip all 4,748 rooms of the Wynn Las Vegas with Amazon Echo units and Alexa assistance with future plans to expand the initiative to the rest of its properties.

Alibaba and Marriott International introduce facial recognition check-ins in China

Posted by - July 12, 2018

With the vision of redefining the future of travel, Alibaba Group and Marriott International have begun testing out facial recognition technology at two hotels in China.
A mutually beneficial partnership that was founded in August 2017, the joint venture between Alibaba Group and Marriott International aims to innovate digital travel service. To continually elevate the travel experience, the partners announced that it’s spearheading Marriott’s facial recognition check-in pilot with Fliggy, Alibaba’s travel service platform.
Using Fliggy’s facial recognition technology and Marriott’s hospitality insights, the pilot will kick off from July 2018 at two Marriott International properties in China – Hangzhou Marriott Hotel Qianjiang and Sanya Marriott Hotel Dadonghai Bay. This is just the beginning of the joint venture’s plans on a global rollout, set to position the hospitality company as a pioneer in the ‘seamless check-in experience’.
“With technology, our hotel associates can work more efficiently”
Related Posts Henry Lee, COO and managing director of Marriott International Greater China and board member of the joint venture, commented: “We are excited to partner with the joint venture yet again to offer an innovative and convenient check-in alternative for Chinese travellers. Marriott International has a track record of embracing cutting-edge technology to create memorable experiences for guests. With technology, our hotel associates can work more efficiently to do what they do best – delivering personalised service to our guests.”
Efficiency through technology According to Marriott, the traditional hotel check-in process takes about 3 minutes and even more during peak hours. But with the adoption of facial recognition technology, the check-in process could be completed in less than a minute.
The guests simply need to scan their IDs, take a photo, and input contact details on a self-help kiosk. And after the device confirms identities and verifies booking information, it disperses the room key cards.
A study by the partnership showed that facial recognition check-in improves operational efficiencies. Furthermore, market research revealed that Chinese travellers have shown a strong interest in new technologies in hotels with over 60% showing their preference for facial recognition technology.

Empress Palace: Autograph Collection’s latest property in Spain

Posted by - July 2, 2018

The Lobby Bar Marriott International’s premium lifestyle brand, Autograph Collection Hotels, has unveiled its latest property in the heart of a UNESCO World Heritage site in Spain.
Bearing the UNESCO World Heritage tag means having an impressive heritage and cultural significance. It’s a prestigious list that includes the most precious landmarks in the world, making Toledo the perfect location of Autograph Collection’s latest property.
Autograph Collection Hotels is Marriott International’s distinctive portfolio of ‘passionately independent hotels’ and its latest property, the Eugenia de Montijo fits perfectly into the brand being a former palace of Empress Eugenia De Montijo, wife of Napoleon III and the Empress of France from 1853-1870.
“A unique getaway experience exactly like nothing else”
“The hotel’s rich heritage, intimate size and chic, modern design creates a unique getaway experience exactly like nothing else,” said John Licence, VP Premium & Select Brands Europe at Marriott International. “We look forward to welcoming guests to Eugenia de Montijo as they discover the unique city of Toledo”.
The Empress Suite Related Posts Designed by renowned Spanish architects Manuel Bernard and Sainz de Vicuña alongside Interior Design Leitmotiv, the hotel offers 40 guest rooms and two luxurious bedroom suites; the Tiffany suite, a comfortable and spacious adobe with a city view, and the Empress suite, with stunning views of the Montes de Toledo, a glorious mountain that surrounds the city.
The hotel’s dining spaces include The Dressing, based on the Empress’ original dressing room, and the Mr Worth Atelier Restaurant, a modern reinvention of a Toledo tavern where guests can sample traditional Spanish cuisine.
Eugenia’s Bath Eugenia’s Bath In addition, the hotel features a spa and wellness centre; Eugenia’s Bath, the city’s only spa situated in the historic neighbourhood. For both intimate and corporate events, the hotel houses two event spaces with a capacity of up to 40 people.
Eugenia de Montijo captures the traditional essence of the Toledo’s rich heritage while blending modern and chic furnishings throughout. It’s nestled within ancient Toledo, just a stone’s throw from the iconic Cathedral and Jewish Quarter. The hotel’s location provides the perfect hub for travellers to explore Toledo’s many iconic sites including El Greco’s masterpiece at the Church of Santo Tomé, the Cristo de la Luz Mosque, and the Alcázar Fortress.

Western companies go east: Overcoming the Great Firewall of China

Posted by - June 29, 2018

China’s population of 1.4 billion has attracted companies from all over the world. The Asian country opens vast growth opportunities. However, travel tech companies must first overcome the Great Firewall of China.
The huge volume of Chinese outbound tourists attracts a number of western travel companies who want to dip their hands in the luxurious Chinese market.
Many western travel companies are going east by either purchasing, entering into a business venture or strategic partnership with their Chinese counterparts. China is rapidly becoming one of the most important tourism markets in the world.
According to the China Tourism Academy, the number of Chinese tourists that travelled abroad rose by 7% to 130 million in 2017. And these tourists are also biggest spenders when travelling overseas, they shopped for approximately USD 115.3 billion last year. With this jaw-dropping number, experts would say, if you get China, you get Asia.
However, China is not an easy country to get into. The Great Firewall of China (GFW) is the coined term for the different legislative actions and technologies enforced by the People’s Republic of China to regulate internet in the country.
The main role of GFW is internet censorship that blocks access to selected foreign websites and slows down cross-border internet traffic. The Great Firewall is the main reason why there is no Google and Facebook in China. This is because the country requires internet tools and mobile apps to adapt to domestic regulations. GFW also, in a way, fosters the development of Chinese internet companies as they create similar platforms offering the same services as the banned websites.
Penetrating GFW The Great Firewall was in full effect since 2011 preventing IP addresses to be routed through and blocking Virtual Private Network (VPN) services. The Great Firewall was able to “learn, discover and block” the encrypted communications methods used by a number of different VPN systems.
During his talk at the Techsauce Global Summit last week, Bob Zheng, founder and CEO of People Squared – a Shanghai-based co-working space that provides a well-equipped work environment for freelancers, shared what the Firewall does for China and how start-ups and big companies can overcome the intimidating internet filter.
Bob Zheng, founder and CEO of People Squared “Because of this firewall, there are actually a lot of new opportunities being created. So there is ‘almost’ an equivalent of anything in China.
“So, with Google, we have Baidu, which is also a search engine in local language allowing people to search for anything. There’s also a Twitter equivalent Sina Weibo. So, that actually created a lot of opportunities just within those time period to allow some local companies to grow,” Zheng said.
He said that many companies have tried and failed in trying to gain business in China. The average success rate of foreign start-ups in the country is 5%.
Then, Zheng shared the secret: “You need to look around and understand the market in a local way.”
Related Posts It seems that one of the biggest mistakes of multinational companies is their lack of knowledge of the Chinese culture. He said that companies in Hong Kong and Taiwan may have the advantage for they are quite familiar with the market.
“You need to understand the market itself in China, the user behaviour in China, the way people monetise in China are actually very different,” Zheng said.
“Be specific on who are your users. There is nothing wrong in focusing on a niche, for the market is too big and 1% in China is huge.”
Zheng said that China is a rapidly changing market and what worked a year ago may not work now. Moreover, China has moved on from being a manufacturing country to being innovative and China has become the biggest app market.
Therefore, it is best to immerse yourself and know the locals and find the strategies that work for you and not because everybody else is doing it.
He also said that it is important to know your target. “Be specific on who are your users. There is nothing wrong in focusing on a niche, for the market is too big and 1% in China is huge,” he said.
Reap the benefits While it is difficult to get inside the Chinese market, the rewards are huge in terms of profit. Start-up companies are not the only ones chasing the Chinese travellers. A number of big names in the travel industry are dipping their hands in the treasure trove.
Marriott International signed a joint venture with China’s tech giant Alibaba. The strategic partnership allows Marriott to penetrate China and for Alibaba to expand its products, Fliggy and Alipay.
Following the joint venture, Marriott and Alibaba announced that they created an exclusive booking platform for Marriott’s properties in Asia and the Pacific. Also, Alipay is accepted in all Marriott hotels in China. The hotel giant plans to expand this service globally to accommodate Chinese travellers abroad.
Marriott is not the first hotel to dive into the Chinese market, AccorHotels paired up with Ctrip too.
Even airline companies are seeking strategic partnerships with Chinese firms as the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) relaxes the rules that would allow state and private firms to independently or jointly make investments in the industry.
Chinese travellers during a holiday. “Chinese tourists are the most powerful single source of change in the tourism industry.” Taleb Rifai, secretary general of the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), said.
“Not only is it the biggest domestic market in the world, where 4.4 billion trips are made each year, but it’s also the leading global outbound market, with over 135 million international departures in 2016. This number has been increasing in double digits since 2010 and it’s merely the tip of the iceberg. The potential of the Chinese market is far greater because only 6% of Chinese people own a passport. So we expect 200 million Chinese to travel abroad in just a few years’ time,” he added.

Aldar appoints Marriott to operate the W Hotel in Abu Dhabi

Posted by - June 21, 2018

Yas Island Beach, UAE Aldar Properties has appointed Marriott International to manage one of its prime properties on the tourist hot spot, Yas Island.
With AED 20 billion on its real estate portfolio and an aggressive asset management strategy, Aldar’s standalone hotel will be flagged under W Hotels – the brand’s debut in Abu Dhabi. Starting on 1 July 2018, Marriott International will assume operation of the Yas Island hotel, which will go through a refurbishment period while remaining open to guests. It will be refreshed and redesigned, with upgrades to its lobby and pool facilities, as per W Hotels’ brand standards.
“Our strategy to employ the most reputable international operators”
Commenting on the announcement, Talal Al Dhiyebi, CEO of Aldar Properties, said: “Appointing Marriott International to manage the operations of our Yas Island hotel supports our strategy to employ the most reputable international operators and reflects our active approach to the management of our portfolio.
“Marriott International’s experience will ensure guests have a memorable stay at our world-class hotel while driving value for our Asset Management business.”
The Yas Marina Formula 1 Grand Prix Circuit The hotel overlooks the Formula 1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix race track – a key component of Aldar’s Yas Island destination strategy. Moreover, the island is expecting the opening of Warner Bros. World Abu Dhabi next month, which will be another addition to its world-class entertainment and leisure attractions. This will drive more UAE residents and global tourists to the destination, where Aldar currently has a portfolio of seven hotels.
Related Posts “A new dimension to the luxury and lifestyle hospitality offering”
Alex Kyriakidis, president and managing director, Middle East and Africa, Marriott International added: “We are delighted to work with Aldar to introduce W Hotels on Yas Island, bringing a new dimension to the luxury and lifestyle hospitality offering on the iconic landmark.
“Marriott International and Aldar share a similar vision for this project and we look forward to infusing the energy and innovative mindset of the brand into a vibrant destination such as Yas Island.”

Yas Island is now set to become one of the top destinations in the world. Abu Dhabi’s media and entertainment zone is also relocating its state-of-the-art facilities to Yas Island and has appointed Aldar as its strategic real estate partner.
The first phase of the new free zone is valued at approximately AED 1 billion and is set to grow with a target of attracting 10,000 working professionals from the media sector. This will form part of the AED 12 billion Yas Bay master development – a waterfront and entertainment district and an urban island community.
Aldar Properties is an Abu Dhabi-based property development, investment and management firm. Early last month, the company made one of the UAE’s biggest real estate purchases in history.

Marriott signs triple deal with Al Murjan Group to expand in Saudi Arabia

Posted by - June 11, 2018

Marriott International has signed three deals with the Al Murjan Group, to further strengthen its portfolio in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Continuing to boost its expansion in Saudi Arabia, Marriott has signed three deals in Jeddah to introduce the Middle East’s first Delta Hotel by Marriott along with Jeddah’s first Marriott Executive Apartments and Four Points by Sheraton. The signing means an addition of more than 500 rooms in the country and Marriott International’s commitment to the Middle East.
“We are delighted to work with the Al Murjan Group on three exciting new projects in Saudi Arabia. In doing so, we will be expanding our brand portfolio in the region with the debut of Delta Hotels by Marriott while further strengthening the presence of Four Points by Sheraton and Marriott Executive Apartments,” said Alex Kyriakidis, president and managing director, Middle East and Africa, Marriott International.
Delta Bessborough in Canada The first of its kind in the country, Delta Hotels by Marriott Jeddah Al Salam will offer 175 rooms including 25 suites, two dining outlets, recreational facilities and a 3,000sqm grand ballroom with pre-function space including four meeting rooms.
Marriott Executive Apartments Jeddah, Al Salam will operate 100 apartments (with one, two and three bedrooms) with fully-equipped kitchens along with a dining outlet, a fitness centre and swimming pool. Delta Hotels by Marriott Jeddah Al Salam and Marriott Executive Apartments are both scheduled to open by 2023.
Related Posts In addition, Four Points by Sheraton Jeddah, Corniche Obhur will include 306 rooms (196 studio rooms and 110 one bedroom suites), two F&B outlets, a fitness centre with an indoor and outdoor swimming pool, plus a boardroom for meeting space. Located on the South Obhur Corniche, the hotel is set to open in 2019.
Kyriakidis added: “We remain committed to supporting the growth of the hospitality sector in the Kingdom with the addition of properties, training programs and jobs with the purpose of enhancing the country’s mission to build a thriving economy.”

“The partnership with Marriott represents an important milestone for us as we are developing three new brands in the city, in line with our commitment to be first-movers,” said Sheikh Sultan Bin Khalid Bin Mahfouz, head of Al Murjan Group.
“The group’s ambition is to develop world-class destinations in the Kingdom. We believe in working with best-in-class partners to achieve this and have partnered with Marriott after a competitive process conducted by JLL, our advisors, who are also assisting us with the project delivery.”
“The group’s ambition is to develop world-class destinations in the Kingdom”
Marriott International has been operating in the Kingdom for over four decades. It’s the company’s second-largest market in the Middle East with 23 hotels in operation and 6,700 rooms across nine cities. As part of the Saudi Vision 2030, Marriott International has ambitious plans of more than doubling its portfolio of properties in the country. And more recently, it has launched its Arabic website to provide a seamless booking experience for Arab travellers.

Marriott targets Arab travellers with new website

Posted by - June 8, 2018

Marriott International has relaunched its Arabic website to provide an end-to-end solution for a seamless booking experience to Arab travellers. The website will cater to 400 million people in 22 Arabic-speaking countries.
The relaunch is part of the company’s commitment to the Middle East and Africa region where it will expand its current portfolio by 50%, and as a result, add 30,000 jobs. Through the new website, over 5,000 Marriott and The Ritz-Carlton Rewards properties globally will be available and bookable in Arabic.
Arab travellers generate more than double (+162%) room revenue per stay compared to other travellers, and annual revenue per Arab customer is 38% higher than other travellers.
JW Marriott Marquis Dubai Related Posts Marriott’s efforts to cater to Arab customers goes beyond translating the website, as symbols of Arab culture should be demonstrated in both communications and on hotel properties. Marriott International will continue to add localised in-language content and will further improve site’s functionality for the Arab online traveller.
Alex Kyriakidis, Marriott International To mark the occasion this Ramadan, Marriott International hosted a Majlis panel that discussed the importance of catering to the Arab traveller, joined by Aida Al Busaidy, director, C2C marketing and campaigns at DTCM, Talal Al Rashed, cofounder Contourage and hospitality consultant and Vladimir Dabbah, vice president, global sales MEA at Marriott International.
“To date, we have over 110 million loyalty members around the world across Marriott Rewards, The Ritz-Carlton Rewards & SPG. As the world’s largest hotel operator, we aim to cater to every traveler on the planet, and with the majority of the world booking travel online we continue to enhance our end-to-end customer booking experience,” said Alex Kyriakidis, president and managing director at Marriott International Middle East and Africa.
In a previous report, Arab travellers bring at least US$100m in revenue booked per year via the website. To see the redesigned website, visit arabic.marriott.com.