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TravelMarriott's Four Points Express by Sheraton will expand into Japan

Marriott’s Four Points Express by Sheraton will expand into Japan

One of Marriott’s newest and most affordable brands is slated to grow in one of the world’s most-visited countries.

Four Points Express by Sheraton will expand into Japan with an initial lineup of 14 hotels, Marriott announced Tuesday. The deal came together after investment firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. purchased Unizo Hotel Company and Unizo Holdings’ portfolio of Japanese hospitality properties. The Unizo hotels will soon be renovated with Four Points Express branding.

“There’s a growing consumer demand for reliable-yet-affordable accommodation in the region,” Rajeev Menon, Marriott International’s president of the Asia-Pacific region, excluding China, said in a statement. “Our goal is to be everywhere our guests want us to be, with the right property in the right location, at the right price point. This collaboration with KKR will expand our ability to do exactly that — starting in Japan, with opportunity to grow our midscale presence in the region.”

Marriott launched Four Points Express last September as a more affordable offshoot of Four Points by Sheraton. Per hotel market data provider Smith Travel Research, Four Points is categorized as “upscale,” while Marriott bills Four Points Express as a midscale option. Four Points Express arrived amid Marriott’s increased focus on affordable stays, including the acquisition of Mexico-based Hoteles City Express and the launch of StudioRes, which focuses on budget-friendly extended stays.

Four Points Express was initially intended to target growth in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Furthermore, Marriott leaders note that the brand will largely grow through conversions — deals where the owners of existing hotels “convert” or renovate a property into the look and style of a parent company.

Marriott’s initial Four Points Express launch announcement noted there were 1.2 million midscale hotel rooms in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, and 68% of those rooms were unbranded as of last September.

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However, Marriott sees additional opportunities for growth beyond Four Points Express’ original regional target.

“Our new midscale brand will offer hotel owners an affordable conversion opportunity with an efficient operational design, access to Marriott International’s expansive distribution systems and the backing of our powerful award-winning Marriott Bonvoy travel program,” Menon said.

The Unizo portfolio of hotels, which includes Hotel Unizo, Unizo Inn and Unizo Inn Express, is in the Japanese cities of Hakodate, Morioka, Utsunomiya, Yokohama, Kanazawa, Nagoya, Osaka, Kyoto, Kobe and Fukuoka. The properties will receive Four Points Express makeovers and adhere to its brand standards. During last year’s launch, Marriott touted Four Points Express’ signature hallmarks of clean, comfortable guest rooms, free breakfast and complimentary Wi-Fi.

“International and domestic tourism in Japan has rebounded strongly since the pandemic and continues to pick up pace,” Kensuke Kudo, KKR’s managing director of real estate, said in a statement. “As demand for midscale hotels grows rapidly, we see a tremendous opportunity to offer high-quality and comfortable accommodation at great value.”

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