BERLIN, March 3 (Reuters) - Hotels group Marriott plans to double the number of hotels it has in Europe by 2020, with growth led by its new Moxy brand aimed at travellers on a budget.
The group, known for its luxury Ritz-Carlton hotels, currently has 74,000 rooms either signed or opened in Europe and plans to increase this to 150,000 by 2020.
"If you look at the continent as a whole, it's still the most sought-after destination for new travellers," Marriott Chief Executive Arne Sorenson told Reuters on Tuesday on the sidelines of the IHIF hotels conference in Berlin.
Marriott has seen double-digit increases in revenue per available room (RevPAR) over the past nine months in Britain, while Germany has made a strong start to the year, Marriott European head Amy McPherson said.
Demand in Paris is back to normal after seeing a 20 percent drop in RevPAR - a key metric for the industry - in the two weeks following the Charlie Hebdo attacks, Sorenson said.
Marriott opened its first Moxy hotel in Milan's Malpensa airport in September and has said it planned to launch the brand in the United States, with eight properties identified in cities including New York, San Francisco and Seattle.
Marriott said it expected to have 25,000 Moxy rooms signed by 2020, with the next biggest expansion coming for Courtyard, with an expected 11,000 rooms.
Marriott operates more than 4,100 properties in 79 countries and reported revenue of $13.8 billion in 2014 (up 8 percent). It has 18 brands, including Marriott, Ritz-Carlton, Renaissance, Autograph and Moxy.
France's Accor has around 300,000 rooms in Europe, making it the market leader and has no intention of giving up the top spot, Chief Executive Sebastien Bazin told Reuters at the conference.
"We want to be an even bigger leader," he said. Accor does not break down room targets by year, but says of its pipeline of 156,000 rooms, 16 percent, or just under 25,000, are in Europe.
Outside Europe, Marriott is also eyeing opportunities in Cuba, after the United States and Cuba said they planned to restore diplomatic relations. (Reporting by Victoria Bryan, editing by David Evans)