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Ranking the high end hotel brands of Marriott/Starwood

Ranking the high end hotel brands of Marriott/Starwood

Old Aug 9, 17, 10:59 am
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Ranking the high end hotel brands of Marriott/Starwood

Can someone please give me a rough indicator of the hierarchy system involving Marriott/Ritz Carlton/Starwood?

How can I decide if a Ritz Carlton or St Regis is the premiere brand?
What is the difference between JW Marriott, Westin, W, Le Meridien?
Is Rennaissance better than Sheraton?

I find this whole merger thing too confusing. Does Marriott International even have an idea of what their 'best' brand is?
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Old Aug 9, 17, 12:27 pm
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Marriott Luxury Brands is unfortunately an unwieldy collection of too many hotel brands, but here's my take:

From the old Marriott side of things

Ritz-Carlton is the top luxury brand, and you can get amenities through STARS, Virtuoso, and/or FHR.
Bulgari is considered a partner hotel, although you're not likely to find them mentioned on the Marriott website. I would rate Bulgari above Ritz-Carlton.
Edition is near the top of this heap, and you can get amenities through the same consortia.
JW Marriott is probably the best 4*, and you can get amenities through Travel Leaders Select for many of these hotels.


From the old Starwood side of things

St. Regis is the top luxury brand — Virtuoso, FHR, and/or Luxury Privileges amenities
Luxury Collection is a close second — same amenity programs
W Hotels would be third — same amenity programs
A few Westin properties are also in this top tier, for instance Paris and Madrid. Both get Luxury Privileges amenities.

A few LC properties were deemed worthy of St. Regis branding but were branded as Luxury Collection due to naming protocols. For instance, St. Regis Venice was rejected in favor of Gritti Palace.
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Old Aug 9, 17, 1:00 pm
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Originally Posted by A380 Flyer View Post
Can someone please give me a rough indicator of the hierarchy system involving Marriott/Ritz Carlton/Starwood?

How can I decide if a Ritz Carlton or St Regis is the premiere brand?
What is the difference between JW Marriott, Westin, W, Le Meridien?
Is Rennaissance better than Sheraton?

I find this whole merger thing too confusing. Does Marriott International even have an idea of what their 'best' brand is?
(I suspect this query may be more appropriate to the Marriott or Starwood forums, but I'll leave that to the mods to decide. Since this is the Luxury Forum, I'll speak mostly to the luxury brands...and perhaps suggest that this thread change title to "Ranking the Marriott Luxury Brands" to be more appropriate in this location.)

Marriott's luxury brands (based on price qualification) include:

Ritz Carlton Reserve
St. Regis
Ritz Carlton
Luxury Collection
Bulgari
Edition
W
JW Marriott

I've listed the brands above roughly in descending order of my estimation of luxury quality. As with all things, YMMV and I'm sure others may see those in a different order. Obviously, there are stronger properties in some brands that match those in a "better" brand, just as there also are weaker properties that sometimes seem more appropriate in a "lesser" brand.

Your need to have a "best" luxury brand is not necessary. Marriott now has several luxury brands that offer distinct pros and cons. Now you have the ability to choose the experience that best suits your wants from a larger portfolio. Nothing else has really changed thus far.

Ritz Carlton Reserve: this is Marriott's attempt to create Aman-like properties and re-up the RC brand. These properties operate outside the not yet merged Ritz Carlton Rewards/Marriott Rewards/Starwood Preferred Guest loyalty programs. They are usually all-suite type properties in amazing resort locations. They are all new and have a very high service standard.

St. Regis and Ritz Carlton: these are 2 roughly equivalent luxury brands that used to compete but now exist together in the same portfolio. Neither is as luxurious across the board as RC Reserve. There are 44 St. Regis properties and 90+ Ritz Carlton properties. St. Regis only expanded to its 2nd property in 1999, so it's among the youngest of the luxury brands.

I give the edge to St. Regis over Ritz Carlton in terms of luxury and service, but again YMMV.

St. Regis is most known for its butler service, best executed for suite level accommodations, providing central points of contact and service for all service needs of guests. I also think St. Regis is known for its use of technology in rooms/suites. I'd say St. Regis feels like a synthesis of Four Seasons with Peninsula technology. Most StR properties are new, but there are a few older reflags/conversions that require renovation/refurbishment. St. Regis tends towards a modern clean design style of luxury, though there are resort locations that tend to mimic the local architectural and design styles of their locales.

Ritz Carlton is most known for its Club level, offering a higher service level experience than regular rooms/suites with a very nice "VIP club" lounge offering food/beverage and other service assistance. RC properties tend to be a bit larger than most StR, and there are many that are older that require renovation/refurbishment. Ritz Carlton tends to a modern but still traditional design style of luxury, though newer properties tend to a bit more Deco/modern styles depending on location.

Luxury Collection is an assortment of individually managed unique properties, often with historic or authentic, unusual buildings that were converted into hotels/resorts. The designs of these tend to reflect the local styles and traditional culture. These are more unique experiences, with service and style completely dependent on the property and its management team. Some have very high service standards and luxury accommodations that rival the best of the StR and RC brands; others, especially in the US, may be a little closer to luxury-lite, especially with regard to service. There are 100 LC properties around the world.

Bulgari hotels are owned and designed by the famous design house but managed by Marriott's luxury division. There are only a handful of hotels and resorts--and these operate outside the Marriott loyalty schemes, too, being only "partner hotels." Many would consider these hotels to be a lot of pomp with less circumstance, as the hotels are beautiful but may be lacking in luxury service.

Edition hotels were Marriott's answer to Starwood's W hotels but done in a slightly more luxurious and less formulaic way. These properties tend to reflect their urban neighborhoods while still providing a higher energy luxury experience. There are only a handful of Edition hotels, all located in urban neighborhoods known for high energy experiences.

W hotels are a lifestyle brand that command luxury hotel rates while offering a more specific niche experience, a combination of luxury hotel with club lounge energy and the concomitant see and be seen crowds and customer base. Lobbies are known as Living Rooms and serve as de facto social spots for not only hotel guests but the local urban denizens, too. Employees are often quite good looking, it seems. These tend to be city hotspots for bar/club activity. Design style tends to be snazzy and chic and on the minimalist edge. Definitely not to everyone's taste, but a truly unique brand that spawned a number of others (including Edition). Service levels range from excellent to curiously mediocre, with non-USA properties tending to have better service than the US properties. Some Asian Ws can offer service that is as over the top as some of the best luxury hotels, but that is not the norm. There are a few W Retreat resort properties known for offering a more consistent higher level of service in exotic locations.

JW Marriottt is what I call "safe and more affordable luxury." These are beautifully clean and nice hotels offering nice service in a modern but safe, non-edgy style comfortable style for most customers. Soft contemporary often seems to apply to the design style. Business and leisure travelers alike would appreciate these hotels. They are located in both urban centers and resort locations worldwide. There are about 100 JW Marriott properties. Service is usually quite good, but may not approach the over the top service levels of other brands due to the usually larger sizes of these hotels. While JW may appeal to more people, the average daily rate is lower than that of W, believe it or not.

There are a few Westin properties in Europe (Paris, Madrid, Venice, Florence, and Rome, in particular) that also offer luxury level service and accommodations. But most Westin hotels are only "upper upscale" and not proper luxury hotels such as those.

Westin, Le Meridien, Marriott, Renaissance, and Sheraton all occupy the same upper upscale space in terms of average daily rate. Le Méridien hotels tend to be stylish and eclectic in design, approximating a W lite approach. Westin hotels tend to be modern and clean design with a focus towards health. Marriott hotels tend to be safe and clean and more or less like JW Marriott lite...you always know what you're going to get, but it isn't standing out in any particular way. Sheraton hotels also tend to be safe and clean but have the most range of quality of all the above brands, with non-USA Sheratons being extremely good and US Sheratons often being not nearly as good or downright poor. Renaissance hotels tend to be a little more posh and reflective of locality than your average Marriott, but there's still some variety there.

Last edited by bhrubin; Aug 9, 17 at 3:37 pm
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Old Aug 9, 17, 3:29 pm
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In general I agree but there are always excemptions. Some Luxury Collection hotels are superior to St.Regis hotels and Bulgarito Ritz-Carlton. Sometimes it´s politic to put a hotel in a brand.
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Old Aug 9, 17, 4:28 pm
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Great input by DavidO and bhrubin. I found it very informative.
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Old Aug 9, 17, 4:49 pm
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It also depends on location. I did not have a positive experience at the St. Regis, Osaka, and I was in a suite yet had a wonderful experience at the RC Osaka.

In general though St Regis has a small edge IMHO over RC.
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Old Aug 9, 17, 4:56 pm
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Originally Posted by SanDiego1K View Post
Great input by DavidO and bhrubin. I found it very informative.
I'm surprised you learned much from us...as I know you've stayed at a ton of Starwood/Marriott luxury brands, too.
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Old Aug 10, 17, 2:42 am
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Yes, that is an excellent and exhaustive description you have provided, bhrubin^

As you note, it can get very subjective and there are outliers. In some cities like SF, by all accounts the St. Regis is vastly superior to the Ritz-Carlton, but in other locations it's the other way around for example.

In New York, the choice between the flagship StR and R-C Central Park is entirely subjective, as both properties are very good, just different.
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Old Aug 10, 17, 4:32 am
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Thanks for the advice.

So as far as Marriott brands are concerned, they are using Ritz Carlton Reserve as a 'rival' to Aman, and perhaps St Regis as a 'rival' to Four Seasons?

I have also found that recent JW Marriott hotels have become more and more like W hotels, for example the design of the new Phu Quoc resort in Vietnam looks like something out of the Caribbean! Not what you would expect from JW Marriott at all.
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Old Aug 10, 17, 4:44 am
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Originally Posted by A380 Flyer View Post
Thanks for the advice.

So as far as Marriott brands are concerned, they are using Ritz Carlton Reserve as a 'rival' to Aman, and perhaps St Regis as a 'rival' to Four Seasons?

I have also found that recent JW Marriott hotels have become more and more like W hotels, for example the design of the new Phu Quoc resort in Vietnam looks like something out of the Caribbean! Not what you would expect from JW Marriott at all.
And the original RCs too. Yes, I've seen that a lot of JW Marriotts seem to be going into the chic and trendy side of design. JW Marriott Dongdaemun Square seems to be have been made for Instagram!
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Old Aug 10, 17, 5:16 am
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What about the Autograph Collection - https://autograph-hotels.marriott.co...re-the-hotels/ - I don't recognise any of the others but we stayed at the Mauna Kea Hotel which is definitely 'Luxury'.
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Old Aug 10, 17, 9:07 am
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Originally Posted by A380 Flyer View Post
Thanks for the advice.

So as far as Marriott brands are concerned, they are using Ritz Carlton Reserve as a 'rival' to Aman, and perhaps St Regis as a 'rival' to Four Seasons?

I have also found that recent JW Marriott hotels have become more and more like W hotels, for example the design of the new Phu Quoc resort in Vietnam looks like something out of the Caribbean! Not what you would expect from JW Marriott at all.
Looks a lot like the InterContinental Danang.
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Old Aug 10, 17, 10:03 am
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Originally Posted by quitecontrary View Post
What about the Autograph Collection - https://autograph-hotels.marriott.co...re-the-hotels/ - I don't recognise any of the others but we stayed at the Mauna Kea Hotel which is definitely 'Luxury'.
I won't debate the luxury status for the Mauna Kea, but Autograph is almost entirely comprised of 3-4 star hotels, much like Starwood's Tribute Portfolio. I expect Autograph Collection and Tribute Portfolio to be merged once the Marriott/Starwood loyalty programs finally are merged.
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Old Aug 10, 17, 10:55 am
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Starwood is now serving as the booking arm for the Design Hotels. I don't see it commented on above, so will do so. I'm not sure where such diverse offerings would end up in the hierarchy, but the ones I've stayed at have been very interesting and worthy of note. They are unique with intriguing design. Their description: over 280 independently owned small boutique and luxury hotels in over 50 countries worldwide.
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Old Aug 10, 17, 11:00 am
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I would not consider W to be a luxury brand, especially in terms of service at most locations (Hong Kong is close to an exception IME). Similarly, I wouldn't include JW as to me it seems too cookie-cutter in style to be true luxury. OTOH, the LRM subset of LM is close to luxury, such as the Plaza Athenee in Bangkok.

However, I would add that on the SPG side, many Design Hotels are luxury, although they have limited published elite benefits (but YMMV at particular properties as I've received full Plat benefits at some of them).

If part of your idea of luxury is a highly individual property that doesn't feel like part of a chain, some of LC and Design Hotels would be the best bet.

Note that there some luxury properties that have limited participation in the SPG and MR programs.
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