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by Matt Alderton | September 10, 2014
Marriott International will open more than 1,300 hotels globally from 2014 through 2017, bringing its total portfolio to more than 5,000 hotels in 100 countries, it announced this week. Amounting to more than six hotels a week, its record pipeline will add between 200,000 and 235,000 new rooms to the company's supply within the next three years.

"This is a great time to be in the hotel business," Marriott International President and CEO Arne Sorenson said in a statement. "Around the world, this is a golden age of travel.  In 2012, international trips topped a record 1 billion, and we would like to see that double over the next 10 years. Economic growth and rising middle classes are driving this travel, and we now have more hotels open or in development outside the U.S. than at any time in our company's history. In North America, we believe we are only midway through an elongated lodging cycle, with considerable upside to come."

Marriott's pipeline will be filled primarily by six brands recently launched or acquired by the company -- AC Hotels by Marriott, Autograph Collection, Edition, Gaylord, Moxy, and Protea -- which it said will account for 20 percent of the company's unit growth through 2017.

Growth will be especially strong in Asia Pacific -- where the company plans to double its portfolio by 2017, reaching 300 to 315 hotels in 19 countries -- and in the Middle East and Africa, where Marriott expects to have a portfolio of 31,000 to 33,000 rooms in 29 countries, an increase of 24 to 26 percent from 2013.  

"We are focused on growing a superior brand portfolio through long-term, high-quality contracts with minimal investments, resulting in strong free cash flow, high return on invested capital, and meaningful earnings growth," said Carl Berquist, Marriott's executive vice president and chief financial officer. "It's a strategy that creates considerable shareholder value."