Marriott International announced Monday that is is buying rival hotel chain Starwood for $12.2 billion. The merger will make Marriott the largest hotelier in the world, and with that growth comes not just a bigger global footprint but a bigger staff, as Marriott will not just add 180,000 employees but try to seamlessly merge the culture of both companies.

In a letter to Starwood employees, Marriott CEO Arne Sorenson discusses what it is about Starwood that attracted Marriott to the deal, citing a great loyalty program and excellent associates as top draws. Sorenson acknowledges that the deal will take time, and offers assurance through transparency, saying any questions Starwood employees may have will be answered as the process unfolds. He ends on a note of optimism, saying the two companies will do “great things together.”

Dear Starwood Associates,

Hello. I want to introduce myself and say how excited I am that we will be joining forces.

You are part of a top-notch team. Your innovation in the lifestyle category and ability to attract discerning, loyal customers are achievements that we at Marriott International have long admired.

I know it’s strange that we will go from competitors to teammates. I believe strongly that we share similar goals and our partnership will be a natural one.

You may already know a fair amount about our company, but I want to be sure that you know that the well-being of associates has been and will always be our first priority.

“Putting People First” began with the founding of our company in 1927, when J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott opened an A&W Root Beer stand in Washington, D.C. The Marriotts believed that if you take care of your associates, they will take care of the customers and those customers will come back. This has been a hallmark of our culture and central to how we have operated for nearly 90 years – through the best of times and through challenging ones, as well.

We understand that you will have many questions today and in the days ahead. We will provide the answers we have, and share all other information as it becomes available. We expect a merger of this scale to take several months for reviews and approvals before it is finalized.

We were attracted to Starwood because of your strong portfolio of brands, your innovative loyalty program, your international footprint, and, of course, your excellent associates. Once the deal is closed, Marriott and Starwood combined will become the world’s largest hotel company with a unique ability to meet the varied needs of travelers whatever their purpose and wherever they are in the world.

Delighting our guests is the priority, and we don’t anticipate the integration having an impact at the hotel level worldwide. There will be some support areas where we overlap and we’ll address those in time as we look to more efficiently run our combined organization.

A big part of our people-first culture is treating people with respect and transparency. You’ll experience both as we work through this process.

Today is the start of an incredible journey for our two companies. I know we will do great things together.

Thank you,

Arne Sorenson
President and CEO
Marriott International, Inc.

Photo Credit: The W Amsterdam is one of the brand's newest properties. Facebook/W Hotels