Marriott plans to keep all 30 brands with Starwood buyout

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Marriott International, which on Friday announced the completion of its $13 billion acquisition of Starwood Hotels & Resorts, plans to retain all 30 of the brands overseen by both companies, Marriott CEO Arne Sorenson said on a conference call Friday.

“The strength of the loyalty program is driven in significant part by the size of the portfolio and the range in choice,” Sorenson said. “By having 30 brands with options around the world, we think that program is stronger.”

With the Starwood acquisition, Marriott appears especially well-represented in the upper-upscale sector, where the Marriott and Renaissance brands are joined by Starwood’s Sheraton, Le Meridien and Westin brands. In the luxury sector, Ritz-Carlton is now a sister brand of Starwood’s St. Regis and Luxury Collection.

Sorenson said that its agreements with third-party hotel owners require keeping those hotels’ brands as is through the remainder of those contracts.

Hotel owners “have made bets with their valuable real estate with the brand on those hotels,” Sorenson said. “We will work with our brand teams to drive distinctions between the hotels.” 

Regionally, Marriott will try to balance out the footprints of its legacy and Starwood brands, according to Tony Capuano, Marriott’s global chief development officer. For instance, in China, where Starwood brands have a greater presence, the parent company will emphasize opening hotels under Marriott’s legacy brands. 

Conversely, Capuano said Starwood’s Aloft and Element select-service brands may have “a much sharper increase” in U.S. hotels than Marriott’s larger Courtyard and Residence Inn select-service chains.

Marriott CFO Leeny Oberg said on Friday’s conference call that Marriott will try to sell Starwood’s owned hotels while retaining the management and branding contracts. Oberg estimated that the hotels are worth as much as $2 billion.

Marriott now oversees more than 5,700 hotels totaling about 1.1 million rooms in more than 110 countries. Its 30 brands are far more than Hilton Worldwide’s dozen and InterContinental Hotels Group’s 13.

With Sorenson citing the company’s Marriott Rewards and Starwood SPG loyalty programs as a primary reason to keep all 30 brands, the company said members of the two programs will be eligible to start transferring points between accounts starting Friday.

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