Despite trade tensions, China's hotel pipeline keeps growing

Marriott opened the Shanghai Edition last fall. Photo credit: Marriott International (The Shanghai EDITION)

Back in March, analysts at Lodging Econometrics called China’s hotel pipeline “booming," citing 2,761 hotels with 580,635 rooms, up 12 percent by hotels and 6 percent by rooms year over year

Three months later, in spite of escalating trade tensions with the United States, the numbers are even better. China’s total construction pipeline now stands at 2,845 hotels and 590,809 rooms, up 15 percent by hotels and 8 percent by rooms year over year—and a good number of the hotels are from American brands. 

Both hotels and rooms in the pipeline are at all-time highs. According to LE, construction growth has been substantially enhanced by the billions in liquidity unleashed by the government last year to offset the manufacturing slump and slowing economy brought about by the escalating trade dispute with the United States.

China has 2,083 hotels and 414,967 rooms presently under construction, up 21 percent and 12 percent year over year, respectively, while hotels scheduled to start construction in the next 12 months stand at 387 hotels with 83,074 rooms, both at record highs. The country now has 375 hotels with 92,768 rooms in the early-planning stage.

In Q1, 185 new hotels with 27,455 rooms opened across China. LE anticipates 795 new hotels and 127,420 rooms will open for the full year. 

In 2020, meanwhile, 732 new hotels with 124,160 rooms are expected to open.

Top Cities, Companies

The cities with the most hotels in development have not changed since March. Guangzhou leads China’s pipeline with 128 hotels and 28,367 rooms, near its high set in Q4 2018. Shanghai follows with 114 hotels and 22,747 rooms. Next is Chengdu at a record high 110 hotels and 23,295 rooms. Suzhou (with 83 hotels and 15,092 rooms) and Hangzhou (with 79 hotels and 17,415 rooms) follow.

Three global franchise companies now have record-high pipelines for China. Hilton takes the top spot with 421 hotels and 86,750 rooms. IHG follows with 340 hotels and 76,861 rooms. In April, IHG called Greater China its "fastest growing region." The company opened its 400th Chinese hotel in Zhuhai, Guangdong Province, as part of a plan to deepen its roots in Southern China in line with the nation’s Greater Bay Area strategic plan. 

Marriott International has 291 hotels and 79,860 rooms in its pipeline. This year, the company plans to open more than 30 hotels, including two brand first in the country: the 515-room JW Marriott Marquis Hotel Shanghai Pudong and the Renaissance Xiamen Resort & Spa in the Fujian province opening later this year. 

JinJiang Holdings (with 273 hotels and 31,118 rooms) and Accor (201 hotels and 35,318 rooms) round out the lead franchise companies.

Brands in the pipeline are dominated by Hampton by Hilton, at an all-time high with 242 hotels and 38,608 rooms. Hilton’s second-largest brand is DoubleTree with 65 hotels and 18,733 rooms. IHG’s primary brand in China is Holiday Inn Express, at a record count of 162 hotels and 29,599 rooms and Holiday Inn with 57 hotels and 14,880 rooms. Marriott International’s top brands are the full-service Marriott Hotel & Resort, hitting an all-time high with 67 hotels and 20,373 rooms and Courtyard by Marriott with 36 hotels and 9,321 rooms. 

Leading brands for JinJiang Holdings are 7 Days Inn with 118 hotels and 9,296 rooms, and Vienna Hotel with 74 hotels and 10,360 rooms. Accor’s leading brands are hitting all-time highs with 85 Ibis hotels and 9,214 rooms, and Mercure Hotel with 57 hotels and 9,948 rooms.