Bjorn Hanson, principal of PricewaterhouseCoopers' hospitality and leisure group, said the forecast for 2007 is a 1.6 percent increase in supply, still below the long-term average of 2.1 percent. By 2008, however, supply growth should be above average, at 2.3 percent, he said. Anecdotal evidence suggests some of the construction factors clogging the pipelines in past years are beginning to be resolved, he said.

InterContinental Hotels Group, which already claimed the industry's largest pipeline, recently announced it signed 23,000 more rooms, bringing its total pipeline to about 170,000 rooms, with more than 99,000 in the United States. A good portion of those new rooms will be Holiday Inns and Holiday Inn Expresses, but the upscale brands are growing rapidly as well.

Starwood Hotels & Resorts has firm plans to open about 420 new hotels globally, boosted partially by the introduction of its new select-service Aloft and extended stay Element brands, senior vice president of development Paul Sacco said. More than 25 hotels in those two brands should open next year alone, he said. Overall, Starwood expects to sign 200 new deals and open 80 new hotels in 2007. "It's almost double the number of properties that we opened last year," Sacco said. "Both the Element and the Aloft hotels are completely new. We don't do conversions of existing hotels. We built these brands from the ground up."

Marriott International opened 52 new properties with 6,976 rooms worldwide in the second quarter of 2007. Its pipeline now stands at more than 110,000 rooms, with about one-quarter of those outside of North America, Marriott CFO Arne Sorenson recently told investors. So far, supply growth has hurt Marriott's bottom line only in a handful of suburban markets, he said.

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