January 24, 2018 / 2:33 PM / a month ago

Ronaldo-brand hotel chain goes to Morocco in global expansion

LISBON (Reuters) - Portuguese soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo and the country’s top hotel chain, Pestana, will open a new hotel under the Pestana CR7 venture in Marrakesh next year and hope to double the brand in three to five years.

Ronaldo is following other sports stars who have invested in hotels, including tennis player Andy Murray and soccer’s Gary Neville and Ryan Giggs -- but Ronaldo’s venture has global ambitions.

The new project, the fifth hotel under the Pestana CR7 brand - a trademark combination of Ronaldo’s initials and jersey number -- will rent the 160-room hotel for 20 years and manage it, said Pestana Hotel Group Chief Development Officer Jose Roquette. Moroccan investor M Avenue will finance and own it.

FILE PHOTO: View of Pestana CR7 Lisboa Hotel, on the official inauguration day, in Lisbon, Portugal, October 2, 2016. REUTERS/Pedro Nunes/File Photo

“It is a brand that will grow ... In the next three to five years we will quickly double the number of the hotels,” Roquette told reporters, mentioning Ibiza and Milan among possible locations.

Pestana, which has a hotel in Casablanca, is also opening a separate 4-star hotel in Marrakesh and hopes to expand further in the north African country.

Pestana CEO told Reuters in December the joint venture should help open new markets in Asia and the Middle East, where Ronaldo is extremely popular, as well as reinforce its expansion into Spain and the United States.

Ronaldo and Pestana will open two hotels this year in Madrid and New York, having already tested the market at home in Portugal, which is enjoying a tourism boom, with an initial two hotels - in Madeira and Lisbon.

Pestana is a family-owned chain of more than 90 upmarket hotels. It aims to open 20 more, including under the CR7 brand, on an investment of 200 million euros by the end of the decade, mostly in Portugal, Roquette said.

Reporting by Sergio Goncalves, writing by Andrei Khalip, editing by Louise Heavens

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