Starwood Hotels launched the W Hotel brand way back in 1998 as a luxury boutique brand. Since then, other hotel chains have been trying to follow up with an equally successful major hotel chain boutique brand.
Starwood’s Luxury Collection brand added five hotels in 2009 and has signed deals for seven more hotels in Asia Pacific. Half of these are conversions. The Astor Hotel is scheduled to open in Tianjin, China in May 2010 after a $22 million dollar renovation of the 1863 built hotel. Other recent additions to the Luxury Collection brand include the Andaman Resort in Langkawi, Malaysia; ITC Royal Gardenia in Bangalore, India; and Vana Belle Samui Resort & Spa in Thailand currently scheduled for March 1, 2011 opening.
South America has seen Luxury Collection additions with Hotel Paracas on coastal Peru, Tambo del Inka in Urubamba, Peru scheduled to open in March 2010, and Palacio del Inka scheduled to open in 2011 in Cusco, Peru.
InterContinental Hotels Group opened its first Hotel Indigo brand property in 2004 and now has over 30 hotels.
Hilton Worldwide extended the Waldorf Astoria brand to the quickly expanding Waldorf Astoria Collection with over 20 hotels currently in the brand. Hilton states its luxury hotels doubled in the USA and its luxury segment grew by 50% internationally in the past two years.
Hyatt Hotels introduced Andaz with its London Liverpool Street opening in November 2007 and featured its third hotel opening this month with the new Andaz Wall Street in New York. A second New York property, Andaz 5th Avenue, is opening spring 2010. San Diego Andaz is rebranding from the current Ivy Hotel February 1, 2010. The Ivy Hotel is currently affiliated with I Prefer hotel loyalty program. Costa Rica’s resort region of Guanacaste will feature the Andaz Papgayo scheduled to open in 2013.
Now Marriott Hotels has just signed 7 hotels to the new Marriott Autograph Collection brand. Marriott’s Autograph Collection is similar to Starwood’s Luxury Collection brand with a strategy of acquiring established independent hotels under its Marriott corporate umbrella branding. These existing boutique hotels can retain boutique characteristics while benefitting from a global corporate marketing team through the Marriott hotel chain. Marriott forecasts as many as 30 new Autograph Collection hotels being signed in 2010. The Marriott website is still sparse on details. Marriott’s Autograph Collection link.
Here is a news story from January 26 in The Independent with good coverage of the new Autograph Collection member hotels.
The first seven Autograph Collection properties signed are currently Kessler Collection Hotels.
The El Monte Sagrado, Taos, New Mexico
The Grand Bohemian Hotel, Asheville, North Carolina
The Mansion on Forsyth Park, Savannah, Georgia
The Bohemian Hotel Riverfront, Savannah, Georgia
The Casa Monica Hotel, St. Augustine, Florida
The Grand Bohemian Hotel, Orlando, Florida
The Celebration Hotel, Orlando, Florida
Marriott states hotels will be categorized by four types: resort, historic hotel, boutique arts, and urban edge. That “urban edge” classification makes me think of skid row millionaires rebuilding hotels in blighted urban areas, but I am sure Marriott has a prettier picture in mind.
Marriott announced Edition, its new luxury boutique hotel brand in 2008. The first Edition Hotel in Waikiki is scheduled to open this summer. Istanbul, Barcelona, Mexico City, and Bangkok are other scheduled Edition hotels over the next two years. Interestingly I found it tough to locate information online about the progress of the Edition developments. Here is one Pacific Business News article from Sep 2009 mentioning the Edition Waikiki. Another article I saw suggested the Istanbul Edition hotel may open first and here were some photos posted on Hotel Edition Istanbul (U/C) – SkyScraperLife stating they depict the Edition Hotel building.
Even budget-traveler oriented Choice Hotels is moving in the luxury boutique realm with the introduction of their Ascend Collection of historic, boutique, and unique hotels. The brand is appropriately titled I think for a hotel brand trying to ascend above the mediocrity common in the motel like choices of the Choice chain. The 495-room Ohana Waikiki Beachcomber is a 2009 member of Choice Hotels’Ascend Collection along with 18 other hotels added in 2009.
The economic conditions in the hotel industry are pushing more existing hotels into major chain branding. The numbers for 2009 looked bad in the USA and it looks to me from the news sources I have read that the majority of new hotels anticipated to be added to major hotel chain portfolios are international properties.