Marriott forms new Luxury Brands Group

Last week, we looked at Marriott International's "Classic" or "Distinctive" designations for its 30 brands. Now, the world's largest hotel company (following its merger with Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide) is forming a new Luxury Brands Group with the goal of consolidating its high-end brands.

Luxury Brand Group

In the wake of September's merger, the company has eight luxury brands that it is now collecting under a single umbrella. The new group will consist of brands under the former independent-focused Starwood Luxury Collection, as well as the St. Regis, W, Ritz-Carlton, Edition, JW Marriott, Bulgari and Ritz-Carlton Reserve brands.

As previously noted, the Ritz-Carlton, St. Regis and JW Marriott brands will be classified as “classic luxury,” while the other five brands are considered “distinctive luxury.”

“When we think about any of our brands, we start with the consumer and look at what they value,” Tina Edmundson, global brand officer at Marriott International, said last week. “With Ritz-Carlton, this consumer is really leaning toward discovery. And for St. Regis, it’s really about status and connoisseurship. Luxury customers are looking for everything but lean more heavily on Ritz-Carlton for facilitation [to explore a new place] and on St. Regis when they want the hotel to be the destination. The St. Regis customer is looking for the hotel to serve up performances by jazz legends or signature rituals like midnight supper and St. Regis bloody marys.”

Luxury Growth

The Marriott International portfolio currently includes 363 luxury hotels in 61 countries. Another 180 luxury hotels are in the pipeline, including 20 new countries. Next year alone, Marriott plans to open a further 30 properties.

“With luxury travel up nearly 50 percent over the past five years, we see a long runway for growth at the high-end,” Edmundson said in a statement, and told Forbes that the company plans to create a global sales team that will only sell its luxury properties. “I don’t know [that] we are changing brands’ positioning materially just yet. We’ll take some time to dive deeper. What we are focused on is pushing the brands apart. We believe (currently) they are positioned appropriately.”

The Ritz-Carlton brand has 92 hotels currently operating and has four debuts scheduled for next year, including The Ritz-Carlton, Langkawi and The Ritz-Carlton, Astana. St. Regis, meanwhile, currently has 38 hotels open and another 21 in the pipeline. The brand unveiled the St. Regis Maldives Vommuli Resort in early November and is slated to make debuts in five destinations in 2017, including Shanghai, Changsha and Cairo.

The W brand, meanwhile, opened its 50th hotel in Las Vegas last week. Six new W Hotels will open next year in cities like Tel Aviv, Shanghai and Panama City, and a further 27 properties are expected to open further down the line.

The soft-brand Luxury Collection is set to debut in nine destinations next year, including California’s Napa Valley, Singapore and Panama City. Notably, 2017 will see the opening of Hotel Inglaterra in Havana, Cuba, which will join the brand after a complete renovation.

Two JW Marriotts are slated for Vietnam and Canada, while the Edition brand will debut additional properties in Bangkok and Barcelona by the end of 2017. 

Looking beyond the next year, Marriott is looking to open 150 more properties, with a particular focus on entering countries where it does not yet have a presence, such as Iceland and Nepal.