Marriott International, the Maryland-based global hotel and resort company, started operating in Latin America in 1990 when it opened two major hotels in Mexico: the 450-room CasaMagna Marriott Cancun Resort and the 433-room CasaMagna Marriott Puerto Vallarta Resort & Spa.
Since then, Marriott has steadily expanded its footprint in Latin America and the Caribbean. Today, the company has 94 hotels and resorts under nine of its 19 global brands in the region, with 24,300 rooms in 25 countries and territories.
Some of its best-known brands in the region are The Ritz-Carlton and JW Marriott Hotels & Resorts (luxury tier); Marriott Hotels & Resorts and Renaissance Hotels (in the so-called lifestyle category); Courtyard by Marriott and Fairfield Inn & Suites (moderately priced); as well as Marriott-branded extended-stay and timeshare ownership properties.
The company is currently moving ahead with an ambitious, new expansion plan.
“Five years ago we had about 50 hotels open in the region and we expect to open our 100th hotel before the end of this year,” said Tim Sheldon, Marriott International’s president for the Caribbean and Latin America (CALA, as the company calls it), who is traveling and responded to Herald questions for this article by email.
“Moreover, we have 60 new hotels in the development pipeline,” said Sheldon, who took over the top regional job in June and will manage Marriott’s businesses in the area from the company’s new headquarters in Plantation when they open in January. The former regional headquarters were in Weston.
In Latin America and the rest of the world, Marriott’s business model is to manage and franchise Marriott properties on behalf of independent investors. The company earns its revenues from a range of management and franchise fees. Internationally, Marriott owns only a very small share of its branded properties.
As it has expanded in the region, Marriott has moved into new markets and broadened its property portfolio. “In the past, our presence was largely in the Caribbean, Mexico and Central America, catering to U.S. travelers,” Sheldon said. “In recent years, we have increased our presence in South America, including Brazil.” Marriott sees strong growth potential in countries like Mexico, Brazil and, increasingly, Colombia, he said.
Marriott’s business profile has evolved in Latin America and the Caribbean. “After planting a full-service [hotel] flag in the region’s gateway cities, our natural evolution has been to develop select-service hotels within these same markets, as well as in secondary and tertiary markets,” Sheldon said.
These select-service hotels, in large cities and in the provinces, provide quality, economical lodging to business travelers and domestic tourists, a large and expanding market.
A graduate of Concordia Lutheran College in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Sheldon has held a variety of executive posts with Marriott International since he joined the company in 1985. Before taking over the key Latin America and Caribbean division, he was the chief global officer for Marriott’s Global Operations Group and led the successful international rollout of the company’s innovative mobile check-in and check-out option. In other positions, he was senior vice president for lodging management and select-service global brand manager and later was responsible for managing nearly 500 Courtyard, Fairfield Inns, Residence Inns, SpringHill Suites and TownePlace Suites in North America.
Sheldon oversees 70 employees based at the Marriott regional headquarters in Plantation, as well as more than 13,800 in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Marriott also has a regional development office in Miami that promotes new investments for Marriott properties, plus global sales offices and reservation centers in Miami, Mexico City and Sao Paulo.
Globally, Marriott International manages more than 4,300 properties under 19 brands in 81 countries and territories. It has about 123,500 employees worldwide and last year logged revenues of nearly $14 billion.
In an intensely competitive market where Marriott battles with other large international hospitality chains, as well as local and regional players, the company says it has broad appeal to domestic and international travelers, different age groups and different income levels.
“We provide a comprehensive portfolio of 19 brands for different travel purposes as well as different generations,” Sheldon said.
“We have always been known for our strong sales engines and our focus on driving demand to our hotels. In recent years, we have increased our focus on revitalizing our brands and ensuring we appeal to a variety of consumers — as well as the millennials.
“At the same time, our mindset is much more regionalized today than it was five years ago. We are adapting and localizing our operations. We treat our owners like the customers they are, listen to their needs and adapt to ensure we make them successful.”
Business: Marriott International is a worldwide operator, franchisor and licensor of hotels, resorts and timeshare properties, with more than 4,300 properties in 81 countries and territories. The company has 19 brands, including The Ritz-Carlton, JW Marriott, Renaissance Hotels, Marriott Hotels, Marriott Vacation Club, Courtyard, Residence Inn and Fairfield Inn & Suites.
In the Latin America and Caribbean region, Marriott has 94 hotels under nine brands with 24,300 rooms in 25 countries and territories. The company currently has 60 hotels under development in the region.
Corporate headquarters: Bethesda, Maryland.
Latin America and Caribbean headquarters: Cornerstone Building One, 1200 South Pine Island Rd., Plantation (as of Jan. 1). Previous headquarters were in Weston.
President for Latin America and the Caribbean: Tim Sheldon, since June 2015.
Employees: About 70 in the regional headquarters and in the country, more than 13,800 in Latin America and the Caribbean and about 123,500 worldwide.
Worldwide revenues: nearly $14 billion in 2014.
Ownership: Traded on NASDAQ (Symbol: MAR).