By Colleen Isherwood, Editor
BETHESDA, Md., TORONTO, Ont. — Marriott International Inc.'s takeover of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, which closed at midnight last night, makes Marriott the largest hotel company by rooms in Canada.
Under the $13 billion (U.S.) cash and stock deal, Marriott will have 5,700 properties and 1.1 million rooms worldwide — fulfilling one of JW (Bill) Marriott's stated goals of having over a million hotel rooms and being the biggest hotel company on the planet.
Here in Canada, Marriott had about 28,000 rooms and 139 properties, while Starwood had about 19,000 rooms and 72 properties. The combination of the two totals 47,230 rooms, beating Wyndham's tally of just over 40,000. In terms of properties, Marriott now has 211, ranking behind Wyndham with 511 and Choice with 324, and just ahead of Best Western with 201.
Arne Sorenson, Marriott's CEO, who will head up the combined hotel company, told the Globe and Mail that a key reason for the merger was to broaden the range of hotels available to regular customers, most of whom are loyalty program members. Marriott Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest points will be interchangeable.
There were smiles all round at the Sheraton Centre in Toronto today, Don Cleary, president of Marriott Hotels Canada, told CLN in an interview this afternoon. “I was very pleased at how excited and enthused the Starwood associates are now that we are one company.
“We're absolutely thrilled at all levels,” he said, adding that Marriott and Starwood are two of the best brands in the business with the two best loyalty programs. “There are great opportunities for customers, owners, franchisees, partners and associates.
“We are very excited about the loyalty program — we have two of the strongest loyalty programs in the business. As of today, loyalty members can link their accounts together, get equal elite status on both, transfer points and redeem them at a much greater number of hotels,” Cleary said. “People are already transferring and redeeming their awards,” he added.
Right now, Marriott is making use of the Delta offices in downtown Toronto while the Canadian headquarters offices in Mississauga are expanded and renovated. The plan is to consolidate the Marriott, Delta and Starwood teams under one roof, once the Mississauga renovations are complete.
In addition to 211 hotels, there is a fairly robust pipeline for both companies in Canada. Marriott now has 30 brands, with 18 of them in Canada. “We will be adding more in the next couple of years,” Cleary said. He said that AC by Marriott will be coming to Canada in the next year or so.
In terms of numbers of Marriott hotels worldwide, Canada ranks third behind the U.S. and China. Marriott is now in 110 countries, and the global pipeline for signed deals is 330,000 rooms strong.
“The agreement merges what we see as Starwood's strong design DNA, high touch customer service and marketing,” said Cleary. “It gives us great presence in markets where we were not as strong, and fills out our global footprint quite well.”