The Skift New Luxury newsletter is our weekly newsletter focused on the business of selling luxury travel, the people and companies creating and selling experiences, emerging trends, and the changing consumer habits around the sector.

Mergers and acquisitions have reshaped the luxury hotel landscape over the past two years with AccorHotels and Marriott playing the role of the major dealmakers.

The consolidation has forced others in the sector to adapt. Skift’s hospitality editor, Deanna Ting, spoke to a number of executives at the International Luxury Travel Market in Cannes in early December, many of whom believe that the best way to take on the bigger hotel companies is to stay small.

Of course, this is something they would say, but it does have an element of truth. The Marriott-Starwood merger created a portfolio of 30 brands, seven of which are described as luxury. How easy is it to differentiate between a St. Regis and a Ritz-Carlton?

As Neil Jacobs, CEO of Six Senses, said: “People want individuality and it’s an era for small brands with a little scale and consistency.”

— Patrick Whyte, Europe Editor

Five Looks at Luxury

Marriott and AccorHotels Mega Merger Activity Created Luxury Powerhouses: Perhaps being bigger isn’t always better, at least when it comes to luxury hotels. Or at the very least, when you’re bigger, the challenges can be, too.

Modern Concierge Is Too Skilled to Be Made Redundant by Technology: It would be easy to dismiss a concierge as a relic of another time. But concierges are the secret weapon of the educated traveler and when the profession is done well, it is vital.

The Airport Lounge Business — An Insider’s View of How It All Works: Airport lounges are rarely luxurious, but people love them. Perhaps they crave access to an “exclusive” airport club. So look for more to open soon at U.S. airports. As we learn in this interview, operating a lounge can be a profitable business.

AccorHotels Copes With the Airbnb Factor in Australia: With the sharing economy accounting for almost one in three vacation beds in Australia, the impact of Airbnb and Stayz is being widely questioned. But with hotel occupancy levels and room prices still rising, hotels and lobbying groups’ efforts to restrict private rentals seem like an overreaction.

Winter Retreats Cater to Travelers Who Don’t Want to Ski or Snowboard: Most businesses need to figure out ways to expand their customer bases. Winter inns and resorts are adding more programming and services to appeal to travelers who want a wintry getaway, but don’t necessarily like getting on skis to descend mountains at breakneck speeds.

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Skift Europe Editor Patrick Whyte [pw@skift.com] curates the New Luxury newsletter. The newsletter is emailed every Tuesday.

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Photo Credit: The JW Marriott Venice Resort & Spa, Venice. Mergers and acquisitions are changing the luxury hotel sector. Marriott International