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The leading worldwide hospitality company, Marriott International Inc. (MAR - Analyst Report) recently inked a deal with Weligama Hotel Properties Ltd. for opening its first hotel – the Weligama Bay Marriott Resort & Spa – under the Marriott Hotels & Resorts brand in Sri Lanka. The hotel is expected to come up in 2014.

Weligama is located in Matara district on the southern coast of Sri Lanka. The place, situated at a distance of 144 km from Colombo, the capital of Sri Lanka, is among the well known tourist destination in the country. Apart from being renowned for its sandy beaches, the place is also a fishing hub and is of great historical importance. Weligama is rapidly emerging as a commercial hub with tourism playing a key role in the development of the area. The consequent demand for world class accommodation in this area has caught the attention of Marriott.

Weligama Hotel Properties Ltd. is a subsidiary of East West Properties PLC; a Sri Lanka based listed company. East West Properties engages in developing real estate properties along with providing financial and other services in Sri Lanka.

The 11-storey, Weligama Bay Marriott Resort & Spa, will comprise 200 rooms and a host of leisure-oriented amenities like three restaurants, a 115 meter stretch of beach and others. The hotel will also cater to the business travelers with its 640 square meter of flexible ballroom space and other world class facilities.

Sri Lanka is one of the emerging economies of the world with a rapidly developing tourism industry. Tourist visitation has grown over 70% in the last five years. Moreover, the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA) is anticipating tourist arrivals to reach 2.5 million by 2016. All this factors testify to the Marriott’s motive of expanding in Sri Lanka and establishing a strong presence in the country in the long term.

Based in Bethesda, Maryland, Marriott operates and franchises hotels under 15 brands including Marriott, The Ritz-Carlton, JW Marriott, Bulgari, EDITION, etc. It also has licensed vacation ownership resorts under three additional brands: Marriott Vacation Club, Grand Residences by Marriott, and The Ritz-Carlton Destination Club. As of now, it has more than 3,700 properties in 73 countries and territories.

Marriott Hotels and Resorts is Marriott’s widely distributed international brand and expertise in full-service hotels & resorts meant for both business and leisure travelers. The brand is also well known for its world's largest loyalty program, Marriott Rewards. The brand possesses around 500 properties across the world.

The company, which competes with the likes of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. (HOT - Analyst Report), will release its second quarter 2012 earnings on July 11, 2012. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for the second quarter is pegged at 42 cents per share. We presently have a long-term Outperform recommendation on the stock. It also carries a Zacks #2 Rank (short-term Buy rating).

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