Monday, November 16, 2015

Marriott International to acquire Starwood Hotels & Resorts

Well months of rumours and speculation can now be put to rest. We now know who is buying Starwood Hotels & Resorts. Out of the blue came the news this morning that Marriott International is planning to acquire one of our favourite hotel chains! Nowhere had any mentioned Marriott before, over the past year its been names like Hyatt, IHG, Chinese firms, etc. who may buy Starwood but none of those are the winners. Wow is all we can say. Marriott recently bought up the beloved Canadian Delta Hotels brand and now this!

 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.  The combined company’s pro forma fee revenue for the 12 months ended September 30, 2015 totals over $2.7 billion. 

What does that mean for us Canadians now and in the future? Now it is status quo, you continue on with earning and redeeming with Starwood Preferred Guest and/or Marriott Rewards. If the transaction is approved they hope it will close in mid-2016. Ultimately we believe his means integration of Starwood Preferred Guest into Marriott Rewards sometime after that. More than likely not until 2017. Seeing that there was nearly a one year timeline to integrate Delta Privilege (a much smaller program than SPG) into Marriott Rewards you can just imagine what the integration will entail of the 21 Million SPG members into Marriott Rewards. There is a good chance that many of the perks and benefits of SPG will be lost seeing that Marriott Rewards is a much larger program and frequently wins awards even though it doesn't have the prowess of SPG. This will eventually mean we will lose the coveted Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express and leave Canada with only 2 hotel chain co-branded credits card in Canada, Marriott and Best Western. The Marriott Premier Visa from Chase is a great card but the SPG program makes the SPG Amex better.

In terms of hotels, Marriott may just continue to run all the Starwood brands under their current names, Sheraton, Westin, Aloft etc. and never name them Marriott's. Some of those names are iconic and shouldn't be messed with and Marriott knows this.

Of course it is too early to say any of this definitively but if past experience dictates what will happen here then at the very least we know at least some of what we speculate above will actually come true.

What are your thoughts on this news?

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