Starwood Hotels & Resorts on Thursday unveiled details
of a new hotel collection called the Tribute Portfolio, which will compete in
the upper-upscale sector. The Royal Palm South Beach Miami is the collection’s
Starwood is working with Rockbridge Capital Partners to open three new Tribute Portfolio
hotels. Properties in Nashville and Savannah, Ga., are scheduled to open in 2016, and in Charleston. S.C., in 2017. McKibbon Hotel Group and
Tower Associates plan to open a Tribute Portfolio hotel in Asheville, N.C., in 2017.
The Tribute Portfolio will be Starwood’s 10th brand, and
will be similar to the Luxury Collection in that member hotels will be
independent but marketed by Starwood. Customers who belong to the Starwood
Preferred Guest (SPG) loyalty program will earn points when they stay at a
Tribute Portfolio hotel.
Dave Marr, Starwood’s senior vice president of brand
management and global brand leader for Tribute Portfolio, pegged the
typical nightly room rate in the $200 range, though it would likely be higher
in large cities such as New York.
Marr estimated that Tribute Portfolio could have 100 hotels
within the next five years. “There are a lot of great independent hotels out
there,” said Marr.
So-called "soft branding," in which independent hotels join
collections overseen by large hotel companies, is a concept that has gained in
popularity. The collections enable hotel companies to grow in cities where
their established brands are already well represented.
Marriott International launched its Autograph Collection of
independent hotels in 2010 and has since added more than 80 properties
worldwide, including the Algonquin in New York, Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas
and Atlantis Paradise Island in the Bahamas.
Hilton Worldwide last year debuted its Curio collection,
which includes the SLS Las Vegas and the Highland Dallas.
Marr said that the strategy behind Tribute Portfolio is more
about adding properties in cities where Starwood has limited or no exposure as
opposed to further targeting cities where it already has a substantial
presence. He added that Starwood’s strength in the luxury (St. Regis, W, Luxury Collection) upper-upscale (Le Meridien, Westin) and
lifestyle (Aloft, Element) segments gives it an edge.
“If you’re [a hotel owner] paying top dollar for an asset,
you want to make sure you’re partnering with a company like Starwood that will
bring high-paying customers to the table,” Marr said.
Starwood announced its intention to develop a non-branded
collection of properties during its fourth-quarter earnings call in February. A
week following the call, Starwood CEO Frits van Paasschen, who had led the
company since 2007, stepped down amid criticism that the company’s hotel count
wasn’t growing at a sufficient rate.
Last year, Starwood increased its number of hotels by 4%, to
1,222 units. Marriott International last year increased its count by 6.6%, to
4,175 hotels, while Hilton Worldwide expanded its footprint by 5%, to 4,322
Van Paasschen was replaced on an interim basis by longtime
board member Adam Aron, who had previously served as CEO of both Vail Resorts
and Norwegian Cruise Line.
The Royal Palm had been flying under Denihan Hospitality’s
James flag before Chesapeake Lodging Trust acquired the 393-room hotel from KSL
Capital Partners for $278 million. HEI Hotels and Resorts took over management
of the property.