Marriott International, Inc. (NYSE:MAR) is gearing up for the second half of 2013 with a collection of impressive statistics that demonstrate the increasing importance of Africa to its global and regional portfolio, while reaffirming the company’s ongoing commitment to the development of local talent.
The company has a strong pipeline of upcoming properties in Africa, and is preparing to open three new hotels in 2014, namely; the 104-unit Marriott Executive Apartments Addis Ababa in Ethiopia, 209-room Accra Marriott Hotel in Ghana and the 254-room Kigali Marriott Hotel in Rwanda.
This is in addition to re-opening the 307-room JW Marriott Hotel Tripoli in Libya in 2014. A number of additional properties are scheduled to open in 2015 and 2016 bringing the total number of announced properties joining Marriott International’s Africa portfolio by 2018 to 22 hotels in nine different countries.
Marriott International will also need to recruit more than 5,500 staff over the next four years in order to meet the needs of its growing portfolio of hotels in Africa, in tangible terms, these planned hotels will create sustainable local jobs with real career opportunities and real potential for growth. Marriott International plans to extend the training model currently being utilised by the Akilah Women’s Institute in Rwanda, dedicated to up-skilling and hiring locals to run its properties, in which recruits are trained and immersed in the company’s culture overseas in Arabian Gulf hotels for 12 months prior to the opening of the hotels.
This programme is just one example of a series of employee-centric initiatives that have helped Marriott International and its portfolio to earn a number of workplace awards; the company was recently ranked 2nd across all industries by the Great Places to Work Institute and Executive Magazine in their ‘Top Places to Work’ study and the only hotel group in the top ten. It was also named one of the 15 ‘Best Employers’ in the region for 2013 by Aon Hewitt as part of the global HR consultancy’s Best Employers Middle East survey. Such initiatives have also helped grow its jobs and careers Facebook page, which has more than one million fans, of which 20% come from the Middle East and Africa. Its LinkedIn page has also grown, with more than 9,000 connections based in this region.
Alex Kyriakidis, President and Managing Director of Marriott International Middle East and Africa, said: “Creating ongoing opportunities and investing in the development of local people in the countries in which we operate is a priority for us. Though initiatives such as the Akilah programme, we hope to give people on ground the platform to learn transferable skills that they can then pass on to others, which in turn will strengthen the middle class in this region. The fact that they do this while earning a salary is what will support the growing economy and encourage further growth.”
He added: “The Akilah initiative has been a huge success, both for Marriot International and the locals who are receiving this life-changing training and opportunity. We are keen to emulate that success throughout the continent. These aren’t just jobs we are creating but real career opportunities with real potential for growth.”
Located in Addis Ababa’s Meskel Square and designed for extended stay travelers, the 104-unit Marriott Executive Apartments Addis Ababa will offer the convenience of a five-star, full-service hotel with the space, ambience and privacy of residential living and the assurance and security of a Marriott experience. With 93 one-bedroom and 11 two-bedroom apartments, each come with a fully equipped kitchen, contemporary furnishings, state of the art connectivity, flat screen television, a washer-dryer and on-site storage. Residents of the Marriott Executive Apartments will also have their own gym and pool and their own Resident’s Lounge, a Deli with grab and go station plus a casual restaurant and a fully equipped meeting room.
The 254-room Kigali Marriott Hotel in Rwanda will be centrally located near major office centres, embassies, Parliament and just a 20-minute drive from Kigali’s international airport. Its comfortably appointed, spacious guest rooms will feature the latest technology while providing a welcomed comfortable respite after a full-day of work or touring. For dining and entertainment, the hotel’s open lobby lounge will be complimented by a casual all-day restaurant, specialty restaurant and pool grill. All will offer delectable, fresh, mouth-watering food and beverage choices. Recreational amenities will be centered around a health and leisure club, an outdoor swimming pool and outdoor whirlpool. For social events and conferences, the hotel will have 830 square meters of function space comprising a 500-square metre ballroom, a series of flexible meeting rooms and a boardroom.
As well as Ethiopia, Rwanda and Ghana, Marriott International is focusing its African growth on Benin, Gabon, and Nigeria. The continent remains a key market for tourism development because of its increasing economic dynamism and worldwide exposure created by the 2010 FIFA Football World Cup in South Africa. The economic realities indicate further growth potential for the hotel industry; with 24 new properties in the pipeline, Marriott International will be perfectly placed to accommodate the increasing number of visitors to this great continent.