by Rob Hard
Wednesday March 10 2010

Marriott International announced plans this week to double its presence in Europe by 2015. Marriott currently has 40,000 guest rooms in the United Kingdom, Ireland and the mainland continent.

The plan includes more than 25 projects in the pipeline, and the creation of two new brands for the European market: Edition, a boutique-lifestyle collaboration between Ian Schrager and Marriott; and the Autograph Collection, comprised of independent hotels and resorts from around the world representing upper-upscale and luxury properties with distinctive personalities.

A hotel conversion means that Marriott will transform existing hotels to reflect its brand and standards. If successful, Marriott should be able to capture the local charm of a city or destination while offering international travel standards because many independent hotels exist in older buildings.

Marriott and other U.S. brands, such as Hilton and Starwood Preferred, are looking to the international markets for expansion opportunities.

“We see strong opportunity throughout Europe to grow our portfolio,” said Arne Sorenson, president and chief operating officer of Marriott International, in a statement. “Our new operating structure, comprised of four continental divisions including Europe, will help facilitate global growth and bring our teams closer to markets and to our customers. We have tremendous opportunities to grow, with over a third of our current pipeline and about half of our full-service openings this year located in markets outside North America.”

Current projects include the Renaissance Moscow Monarch Center Hotel (2010), the Courtyard by Marriott Budapest (2010) and the JW Marriott Hotel Ankara (2010).

Do you think this is something that will interest the international business meetings and events industry?