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The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, L.L.C., a wholly owned subsidiary of Marriott International, Inc. (MAR - Analyst Report) has signed an agreement with Verny Capital — a leading Kazakhstan-based private investment group — for developing The Ritz-Carlton, Astana. The property, Ritz-Carlton’s second hotel in Kazakhstan, is scheduled for a 2017 opening. The first luxury property under the brand was opened in Almaty in 2013.

The Ritz-Carlton, Astana will be the first international luxury hotel in Kazakhstan’s capital city of Astana. The hotel will be located in the Talan Towers project, which also houses retail space, offices and luxury apartments. The hotel will occupy 20 floors of the 27 storied building. The 157-room hotel will also have restaurants, bars, business and meeting facilities, a modern spa and fitness centre in addition to an indoor swimming pool.

In 1997, Kazakhstan’s capital city was moved from Almaty to Astana, located at the center of the Republic. Astana is a fast developing city and boasts several spectacular urban design projects such as public buildings, sports and tourism projects in addition to a state-of-the-art transportation system.

Furthermore, the city will host Expo 2017 and construction has already begun at the site of the event which will attract participants from over 100 countries. We believe this international event will increase the demand for luxury hotels in the city and The Ritz-Carlton, Astana plans to cash in on the opportunity.

The consistent economic growth in the emerging markets and the growing affluent middle class are driving both business and leisure travel. Additionally, such events raise the profile of these emerging markets for international tourists. Moreover, these events encourage rapid investments in new hotels to support the inflow of guests, thus raising brand awareness locally as well as internationally.

Marriott currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). Better-ranked stocks in the same industry include Wyndham Worldwide Corp. (WYN - Analyst Report), Marriott Vacations Worldwide Corporation (VAC - Snapshot Report) and Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc. (HLT - Snapshot Report). All these stocks have a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).

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