Starwood changes marketing strategy for Le Meridien

By Kate Rice

Since the beginning of the year, Starwood Hotels & Resorts has made the marketing of Le Meridien the responsibility of the same team that markets Westin.

Previously Le Meridien's marketing had been the responsibility of the W marketing team..

One reason: Le Meridien’s business model is closer to Westin than to W's, said George Fleck, vice president of global brand management for Le Meridien and Westin.

Starwood positions Le Meridien and Westin as upper-upscale brands. W is one of Starwood’s luxury brands.

W has 43 hotels, and Westin has more than 200. Le Meridien now has 100 hotels, and is adding more around the world, with 10 opening this year.

When Starwood acquired Le Meridien in 2005, the brand had 120 hotels. Starwood reduced that by about 45 hotels because they were not consistent with the brand. Since then, Le Meridien has added hotels that are either newbuilds or renovations.

“Le Meridien could be a 200-hotel brand,” said Fleck. Right now, Le Meridien has just 13 hotels in the U.S., but Fleck sees opportunity for expansion in both North and South America.

Le Meridien Atlanta Perimeter opened in February; the property was once a W hotel. Le Meridien Arlington (Va.) opened last year in the former Hotel Palomar.

Le Meridien Chicago-Oakbrook Center is scheduled to open in January 2014, in a building that was home to a Renaissance hotel that closed in 2011.

Other hotel openings are scheduled for Bali; Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam; Cairo; Zhengzhou and Qingdao, China; Dhaka, Bangladesh; and Mahabaleshwar, India.

Follow Kate Rice on Twitter @krtravelweekly. 

Correction: W has 43 hotels, not 34 as previously reported. 

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