Marriott has opened its first hotel in Cape Town, South Africa, amidst a massive data breach that may have compromised the personal information of many prominent Africans. 

The big data breach disclosed by Marriott International last Friday affected 500 million guests worldwide, many of them prominent Africans. 

Many African leaders who attended the United Nations General Assembly in New York in September lodged at several of Marriott’s global brands.

With the widespread breach, their financial information and personal data, including detailed movements, may now be in the hands of cybercriminals, who may use them to either steal from them or track them around the world.

AC Hotel Cape Town interior (Source: Marriott International, Inc.)

The Wall Street Journal, one of the first American newspapers to report on the hack, said the large data breach could only be rivaled by the theft of information in 2013 and 2014 from the internet company Yahoo, when at least 3 billion people worldwide were affected.

WSJ quoted security analysts as saying that the range of customer data potentially compromised—such as names, passport numbers, travel details and payment-card data—make the breach even more sensitive.

“We fell short of what our guests deserve and what we expect of ourselves. We are doing everything we can to support our guests, and using lessons learned to be better moving forward,” Marriott Chief Executive Arne Sorenson said.

The latest hack occurred in the reservation system for Marriott’s Starwood properties, which Marriott bought in 2016 for $13.6 billion. Marriott has more than 6,700 properties world-wide under 30 hotel brands. 

Despite the data breach, which is being investigated, Marriott is expanding in Africa. 

On Wednesday,  AC Hotels by Marriott, Marriott International’s European-inspired lifestyle brand, announced it had opened its first hotel in South Africa. 

The AC Hotel, owned and developed by the Amdec Group, is located just minutes away from the buzzing Victoria and Alfred Waterfront, a 25-minute drive from Cape Town International Airport and within the city’s thriving central business district. It has 188 spacious bedrooms.

A room goes for about $173 per night, according to prices posted online.

“We are delighted to open our very first AC Hotel by Marriott in Middle East and Africa in Cape Town, further strengthening our long-standing partnership with the Amdec Group” said Alex Kyriakidis President and Managing Director Middle East and Africa Marriott International. 

“The opening of this hotel reinforces our commitment to driving growth for our lifestyle brands in South Africa in response to a continued demand from discerning travelers seeking hotels with style and functional design, while also providing unique and authentic experiences.”

According to James Wilson, Amdec Group CEO, the opening of the hotel in Cape Town, has paved a “way for Marriott International’s growth plans in South Africa and help to open up new markets for the world’s leading hotel company and its many loyal guests from around the globe”. 

“The Yacht Club mixed use development, where the AC Hotels by Marriott is situated, is the second property in our portfolio of iconic precincts to welcome Marriott, with Melrose Arch in Johannesburg being the first, and Harbour Arch in Cape Town, to follow. 

“We are thrilled with the opening of AC Hotel Cape Town Waterfront and believe it will provide another great place for international tourists to stay when visiting the city. It is exciting to be part of creating new dimensions for hospitality and tourism in the country and, by doing so, provide more opportunities for visitors and locals alike.”

Simon Ateba

Simon is a renowned international journalist, founder and publisher of TODAY NEWS AFRICA in Washington D.C.

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