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Travels with Larry Olmsted: Marriott Bets Big

The first hotel in Marriott’s new luxury EDITION brand has opened in London to rave reviews – its Berners Tavern is already one of the toughest reservations in the city. Photo: Nikolas Koenig
The first hotel in Marriott’s new luxury EDITION brand has opened in London to rave reviews – its Berners Tavern is already one of the toughest reservations in the city. Photo: Nikolas Koenig

When Marriott International acquired controlling interest of Ritz-Carlton Hotels 16 years ago, few consumers noticed. Ritz-Carlton remains one of the world’s most venerable luxury brands, especially in the hotel sector, and even today few travelers associate it with its parent company. Marriott hopes to change that.

The luxury hospitality sector is booming, especially overseas, and Marriott International, one of the world’s biggest lodging companies with more than 4,000 hotels, is diving in full force. According to corporate releases, presently about 11% of its hotels fall into the self-defined “luxury” tier, but 25% of the projects in its short-term pipeline are in this segment, a major refocusing. There are currently more than 200 luxury and lifestyle hotel projects in the works, totaling over $15 billion investment by the company’s owners and franchisees. Lower tier brands such as Courtyard and Residence Inn often bear the rather obvious “by Marriott” moniker, but these usually do not – if you did not know Ritz-Carlton was a Marriott brand you almost certainly don’t know much about newer labels such as Moxy, Autograph or EDITION.

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larry   Award-winning travel journalist Larry Olmsted is a Contributing Editor to US Airways Magazine and Cigar Aficionado Magazine and “The Great Life” columnist for Forbes.com.

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