- The global hotel construction pipeline hit a record high at the end of 2019, according to the latest report from Lodging Econometrics, with 15,000 projects totaling 2.5 million rooms in various stages of planning and construction, an 11% increase in the number of projects and an 8% increase in the number of rooms from the year ending 2018. LE's count includes hotels in the early planning stages (3,608 projects; 582,818 rooms), slated to start construction in the next 12 months (4,533; 654,474) and underway (6,859; 1.2 million).
- The global hotel construction pipeline has been trending upward since 2010, and the U.S. led all other countries last year with 5,748 projects totaling 708,898 rooms, just 135 projects short of an all-time high set in 2008. Globally, Los Angeles (168; 28,501), Dallas (160; 19,787) and New York City (158; 25,825) were the metros with the most hotel projects in the pipeline. Together, second-place China and the U.S. accounted for 62% of the hotel projects reported.
- In 2019, 3,159 new hotels with 446,911 rooms opened around the world. Given last year's record pipeline, LE predicts that 2020 openings will increase to 3,298 hotels and 3,415 in 2021. But the report was released before the coronavirus outbreak was classified a pandemic and did not factor in that economists and industry experts have said that the outbreak will likely have an impact on project starts and completions.
The top four franchise companies with the most hotels in the different stages of development were Marriott International, Hilton Worldwide, InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) and AccorHotels. Their properties alone made up 53% of all projects in the world's hotel construction pipeline. The top brands were Marriott’s Fairfield Inn, Hampton by Hilton, IHG’s Holiday Inn Express and AccorHotel’s Ibis Brands.
LE noted in its report that it is still too early to predict how the coronavirus pandemic will impact the lodging and hospitality industry. However, the outbreak has impacted existing hotels in the broader hospitality industry as travel restrictions have been put in place in order to stem the virus' spread. In terms of construction, Boston has shut down all construction projects, and other cities could follow suit.
In their early 2020 predictions, most construction economists forecasted a slowdown in the rate of growth in the construction industry beginning in the next year or two but nothing too dramatic. However, in a 2020 forecast report survey, commercial real estate and development company JLL said that 40% to 60% of respondents expected declining construction activity in the private sector, i.e. office, multifamily and hotel projects. Throw in the effects of the coronavirus, and construction costs could increase, the report said, if materials and equipment experience delays along the supply chain.
How the coronavirus pandemic will affect U.S. hotel projects depends a great deal on geography, said Ricardo Álvarez-Díaz of architecture and design firm Álvarez-Díaz Villalón, which has offices in San Juan, Puerto Rico and Miami.
For example, he said, in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, hotel construction is booming, in part due to Hurricane Maria and Hurricane Irma recovery and because all of those construction workers need places to stay. Puerto Rico only has 16,000 hotel rooms, compared to the Dominican Republic's 70,000, which underscores just how underserved Puerto Rico is when it comes to hotel rooms.
Ironically, Álvarez-Díaz said, it seems that the devastation that the 2017 hurricanes brought to the U.S. territory has generated more tourist interest in Puerto Rico, putting even more pressure on the island's hotel supply.
So far, none of his clients have canceled in-progress design work for hotel projects because of the coronavirus, the architect said. They are moving forward with design, looking ahead to when travel and other restrictions end. Even if there are two or three quarters of slow activity due to the virus, he added, owners of properties in Puerto Rico are waiting it out and will be ready to go when the time comes.