Skift Take

It's commonplace for a franchisor to update a property to showcase a refreshed look before asking its real estate partners to invest in similar upgrades. But Marriott International's redo of W Hotels matters more than most such efforts. The wider hotel industry will be curious about the direction of W Hotels, a brand Marriott won as part of its 2016 acquisition of Starwood.

Marriott International Inc. is undertaking an update of W Hotels and will showcase its plans at a prominent property in Manhattan.

Marriott acquired the W New York Union Square for $206 million and is planning a renovation that will make the property an “incubator and catalyst for a new vision for W in North America,” the company said in a statement.

The plan calls for a new spa and expanded restaurant at the Union Square property, and includes new hotels in Aspen, Philadelphia, and Toronto. Owners of existing W Hotels have committed $200 million in renovations as part of the initiative, the statement said.

The W brand was launched by Starwood Hotels & Resorts in 1998, which took an emerging category of independent hotel and adapted it for a large hotel company.

The brand played an important role in popularizing the concept of the lifestyle hotel.

The idea was a hit. There were 56 W Hotels as of the end of June, and Marriott which acquired the brand in 2016, continues to open new locations.

Most large hotel companies have launched or acquired boutique or lifestyle brands in the years since, and many of them, from Accor SA to Best Western International Inc., have more than one. Some early properties have lost relevance.

The first W, at Lexington Avenue and 49th Street in Manhattan, was rebranded last year following poor performance and now operates as part of Marriott’s Tribute Portfolio.

Like most hotel brand companies, Marriott shuns real estate assets, preferring to collect fees for managing properties owned by others. It has occasionally purchased and updated properties to demonstrate the value proposition of a new look before asking its real estate partners to invest in upgrades.

Last year, the company acquired the Sheraton Grand Phoenix for $255 million as part of its plans to transform that brand.

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

This article was written by Patrick Clark from Bloomberg and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to [email protected].

Subscribe to Skift Pro

Subscribe to Skift Pro to get unlimited access to stories like these ($30/month)

Subscribe Now

Tags: hotel brands, marriott, new york city, renovations, travel advisor innovation report, w hotels

Photo credit: A view of the W New York Hotel at Union Square on 201 Park Avenue South in New York City. Marriott International plans to make this property a showcase of its redo of W Hotels. Marriott International

Up Next

Loading next stories