J.W. Marriott Jr., the 81-year-old chairman of Marriott International, flew to London in September to inspect his company’s new jewel: Edition, a sumptuous boutique hotel intended to anchor a new 100-city chain — the next W, if Marriott has its way. But Mr. Marriott did not stay overnight at the London Edition, as the new property is known, with its laser-lighted nightclub and guest-room paintings of women wearing toilet-paper turbans. He bedded down at Grosvenor House, one of the company’s more traditional luxury hotels.
“This is what I know, but I’m the past,” he said, sitting in the old-fashioned floral splendor of a Grosvenor corner suite. Edition, conceived in partnership with the boutique hotelier Ian Schrager, is about the Marriott company’s future. “We’re trying to get some flash,” Mr. Marriott said. He rose wearily from his chair. “I’m off to see the flash.”