Hotel news: Marriott steps down, 2012 rates, awards, Google’s Hotel Finder, expansions and more

In other hotel industry news this week…

  • After 40 years as CEO and a total of 60 years with the chain, J.W. “Bill” Marriott, Jr. is handing over the top spot to current President and Chief Operating Officer Arne Sorenson. This handoff takes effect March 31, 2012 and marks the first time Marriott will be led by a non-family member. Mr. Marriott will become Executive Chairman and Chairman of the Board.
  • Two conflicting reports came out this week with regard to the ratio of growth in budget vs. high-end hotels. One article states travelers are spending more on flights, but downgrading themselves when staying at hotels. It quoted that “first- and business-class airline tickets increased by 9.1% and 5.4% respectively,” but hotel spending on budget and luxury accommodations grew 10.5% and 2.2% respectively, pointing at slowing growth for high-end properties. Another source is forecasting that high-end hotels will excel in 2012 driven mostly by rate increases with nearly flat growth in occupancy. They see a 6.1% increase in revenue per available room particularly due to “higher demand from business and corporate travelers.” Forecasting is an art, though, not a science.
  • Travel Weekly bestowed honors to the best of the travel industry during their ninth annual Readers’ Choice Awardsthis week. On the hotel side, here were the results:
    • Domestic: Marriott International
    • Asia: InterContinental Hotels Group
    • Caribbean: Sandals Resorts
    • Europe: InterContinental Hotels Group
    • Mexico: Secrets Resorts & Spas
    • Hawaii/South Pacific: Starwood Hotels & Resorts
    • All-Inclusive: Sandals Resorts
    • Luxury: Ritz-Carlton Hotels & Resorts
    • Upscale: Westin Hotels & Resorts
    • Mid-Priced: Hampton Inn
    • Boutique: Karisma Hotels & Resorts
    • Sales & Service: Marriott International
  • Google began placing its own Hotel Finder service above every other sponsored ad when a user enters something like “Las Vegas hotels” in the search box. This is drawing anger from other highlighted companies like Kayak, Expedia and who will undoubtedly receive fewer click- throughs with their weaker page placement. Some are calling it “reckless and evil,” but I think Google has every right to promote itself first.
  • The Shanghai Marriott Hotel City Center has opened for business this week. It represents the chain’s 18th and largest property in the city and houses 720-rooms, 20,000 square feet of meeting space and five restaurants and lounges.
  • Hyatt opened its first Hyatt Place hotel in Waikiki by converting the former Ocean Resort Hotel Waikiki at the Diamond Head end of the beach. The Pali Tower opened last week with 190-rooms and the 236-room Diamond Tower is planned to open sometime in the spring.
  • Staying with the Hawaiian theme for a moment, the ever-popular Hilton Hawaiian Village received approval for a $760 million expansion that will add 550 timeshare units and additional swimming pools, parking and retail space.
  • Finally a personal note of achievement: I’m officially a Hilton Diamond member now, my first time ever being a top-tier elite with a hotel chain. Now I need to decide who to focus my spend with in 2012. I’m considering status matching/challenging to Starwood or Hyatt for suite upgrades as Hilton currently doesn’t offer this as a perk. What to do, what to do.


  1. Is there reason to delay status matching until nearing the end of the status period in order to stretch out the total period of royalty treatment? I think that’s what I’d do if I were in your enviable situation (which I won’t be) 🙁

    • I’m going to do it at the turn of the New Year since I received a fast-track to Diamond and didn’t qualify under the normal terms. That way, I should have my card by then and can send them a screen shot of 2012 activity showing zero nights/stays vs. showing them my 2011 figures.

  2. Great idea. I’ll do it too (same circumstances as yours). Never even thought of using it to statusmatch. Doh.


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