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Starwood boasts the most progressive and design-friendly brands among its competitors; however, even that is not enough to satiate consumers' demands for independent properties that they perceive bring them closer to a local, intimate experience.

Starwood Hotels and Resorts today introduced Tribute Portfolio, the group’s 10th brand and its second collection of independent hotels.

The brand will be made up of four-star, upscale independent properties, differentiating it only slightly from the group’s five-star Luxury Collection.

Hilton Worldwide launched its similar collection of independent hotels, Curio, in June 2014 and Marriott has been building the Autograph Collection since 2010.

This is Starwood’s latest brand launch since 2008 when it debuted Aloft and Element.

What is unique is the method in which Starwood built and sourced the brand. Executives worked closely with Starwood Preferred Guest members to determine the kinds and locations of hotels to be included.

“There is a lot of, what we call internally, loyalty beyond reason,” says Dave Marr, senior vice president of brand management at Starwood.

Marr says that executives will continue the dialogue with SPG members as they build out the brand.

Only one hotel – the Royal Palm South Beach Miami – was announced at the brand’s launch. However, four hotels still under construction will join the collection from Asheville, Nashville, Savannah, and Charleston.

Starwood CEO Adam Aron says the group plans to have 100 Tribute Portfolio hotels and resorts throughout North America and Europe by 2020.

Having SPG members drive the direction of the brand brings benefits to owners who sign up. According to a recent survey of SPG members conducted by Communispace, 89% said they are interested in staying in independent hotels and almost 70% of members said they already have stayed at an un-branded property. This represents a large opportunity for SPG, which wants to keep as many of its members’ bookings within the group as possible.

Members expressed interest in more properties in foreign and adventure destinations such as Alpine ski resorts, African safari retreats, Southeast Asia and South America led by cities in Argentina and Brazil. Marr highlights resorts in New England and Napa Valley as likely destinations for coming additions.

Below is a video of a special dinner held for SPG members involved in the creation of the Tribute brand:

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Tags: independent hotels, starwood

Photo credit: The entrance to the Royal Palm in Miami, the first property in Starwood's Tribute Portfolio. Starwood Hotels

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