In a bit of a surprise for me this morning, I woke to find that the two hotel chains I stay at most frequently are soon to be one!
From the press release:
“Bethesda, MD, and Stamford, CT, November 16, 2015 – Marriott International, Inc. (NASDAQ: MAR) and Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. (NYSE: HOT) announced today that the boards of directors of both companies have unanimously approved a definitive merger agreement under which the companies will create the world’s largest hotel company. The transaction combines Starwood’s leading lifestyle brands and international footprint with Marriott’s strong presence in the luxury and select-service tiers, as well as the convention and resort segment, creating a more comprehensive portfolio. The merged company will offer broader choice for guests, greater opportunities for associates and should unlock additional value for Marriott and Starwood shareholders. Combined, the companies operate or franchise more than 5,500 hotels with 1.1 million rooms worldwide.”
J.W. Marriott, Jr., Executive Chairman and Chairman of the Board of Marriott International, said: “We have competed with Starwood for decades and we have also admired them. I’m excited we will add great new hotels to our system and for the incredible opportunities for Starwood and Marriott associates. I’m delighted to welcome Starwood to the Marriott family.”
“Arne Sorenson will remain President and Chief Executive Officer of Marriott International following the merger and Marriott’s headquarters will remain in Bethesda, Maryland…”
“The transaction is subject to Marriott International and Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide shareholder approvals, completion of Starwood’s planned disposition of its timeshare business, regulatory approvals and the satisfaction of other customary closing conditions. Assuming receipt of the necessary approvals, the parties expect the transaction to close in mid-2016.”
There is of course no definitive timeframe yet for when the two loyalty programs (be honest- probably the main reason you are reading this) will be merged.
What this does mean is that if you haven’t already joined Marriott’s Rewards program, the time is NOW.
And I have a special offer for the first five of my readers who sign up!
Here’s how it works:
- Enroll upon my recommendation
- You’ll earn 2,000 bonus points beginning with your first paid stay up to 5 paid stays, simply by staying at any participating Marriott® hotels worldwide.
- That’s 10,000 bonus points in addition to the base points you’ll earn
- I benefit as well and will earn 2,000 bonus points each time you stay, up to 5 stays
- Stays at any participating Marriott hotel qualify, and must be made within 365 days of enrollment
As for the merger, as a long time patron of both chains… Allow me to add something here as well:
I have always been impressed with the service that Marriott hotels gives at all levels. Their Ritz-Carlton and Marriott Hotels are world-renowned (seriously, books have been written) for having the best service in the world, and Marriott has been unique in the industry in how that service filters down into even their budget-oriented Fairfield brand. Conversely, Starwood has, I feel, struggled with maintaining that level of service beyond their W and Westin hotels. I feel they have struggled for consistency with their Sheraton and Aloft brands and their Four Points properties are a crapshoot. So much so, in fact, that I often have to double-check outside reviews before booking which has virtually never happened for me with a Marriott property.
It is my hope that the Marriott style of leadership inspires these SPG brands and that the hotel chains become even better at serving their customers. When I have a choice between a Sheraton and a Marriott- I go with Marriott every time. Why? Because I have so consistently gotten better service at a Marriott, and that ultimately is what matters most to me when I travel. I want to feel welcome.
Conversely, I’m hoping that Marriott hotels introduce more of what SPG properties have been doing for some time- offering point incentives to guests who would prefer not to have their rooms turned down during their stay. SPG properties also tend to have a more fresh style. The W Hotels’ trendy approach to music, fitness and fashion blends well with the Renaissance hotels but the W could learn a TON about service from Renaissance hotels, especially from those in Phoenix, Toronto and Nashville.
But mostly I’m just thrilled that very soon I won’t have to worry about how many points I have with which program!
So let me add my congratulations to these companies and I wish you all well as you seek approval for this merger. You certainly have mine.