We should have seen Marriott/Starwood coming
We should have seen Marriott/Starwood coming
16 NOVEMBER 2015 10:14 AM
We should have seen it coming that Marriott International would emerge as the likely buyer of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide. 
It all makes perfect sense now, doesn’t it? We learned early this morning that Marriott International is the buyer for Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide. After all this time speculating and calculating, the buyer was right here in our backyard the whole time. 
Hindsight always is 20/20, but really, we should have seen this coming. 
Marriott’s Arne Sorenson has never flat-out denied the company was looking at acquiring Starwood. Nope. He’s danced around the topic, but he never issued a “no, we’re not buying” statement like IHG did, and he never in so many words said “forget it” on a quarterly earnings call, like Hilton Worldwide Holdings’ Chris Nassetta has. 
In fact, back in May he speculated himself that Marriott or Hilton might be the ideal buyers, because they’re two of the public hotel companies with the balance sheet and clout to pull off such a transaction. 
And we know that Marriott’s strategy has been to grow through acquisition rather than home-brewed brands (see previous stories about Gaylord, Protea and Delta acquisitions). So that’s yet another sign. 
In the parlance of a newsroom, Marriott emerging at the buyer is old news now. Over the next few days, we’ll hear more about how it came about, but what I’m wondering now is what will happen next. 
The chatter around the Hotel News Now newsroom is that the “business as usual” conversation that came out of this morning’s conference call about the acquisition seems a little too simplistic, for now at least. 
To assume that both companies and their collective cadre of brands will continue to co-exist around the world as they do now seems faintly ridiculous, not only given the overlap between several brands, but also the big elephant in the room—the loyalty programs. A couple months ago our own Jeff Higley wrote a speculation piece about where Starwood’s brands might eventually end up, parsing them out among various end buyers, and that generated a lot of conversation. 
The acquisition details will play out over the next days and months as the deal approaches its close, but we want to know what you think, readers. Let us know your opinions in the comments below, and check back often on our site to see the news as it unfolds

The opinions expressed in this column do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Hotel News Now or its parent company, STR and its affiliated companies. Bloggers published on this site are given the freedom to express views that may be controversial, but our goal is to provoke thought and constructive discussion within our reader community. Please feel free to comment or contact an editor with any questions or concerns.


  • e.tabri November 18, 2015 3:37 AM

    Does the Department of Justice have to play a role in this acquisition? It seems to me that this is the hospitality "Walmart" deal that will squeeze out small and independent operators in many markets and destinations throughout the U.S. The 800lb guerilla will operators and reign unchallenged through price fixing, volume and multiple locations.

  • sound_expert November 21, 2015 11:39 AM

    This is not a great deal. There is nothing wrong with Starwood that a new management focus won't fix. They need a team that can tone down the technology fixation just a bit, focus on the basics and crack the whip on reinvestment from the property owners (especially Sheraton), stop using SPG as the main enticement to get travelers to stay at a Starwood hotel, and soften some of the brands (Aloft in particular seems a little too austere/modern for true mainstream penetration). There is room for these brands to provide value in the market and Marriott will not be able to unlock that value, the company DNAs are just too different. The best thing would be for the shareholders to vote this down and literally start from scratch. Starwood is a good company it just needs to turn the page to the next chapter in its story.

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