Travels with Larry Olmsted: Marriott Bets Big
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.