STAMFORD, CT—Doubling its efforts in the industry’s fray of soft branding, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. today launched its second hotel version within the sub-segment: Tribute Portfolio.
The new niche, which will focus on upper-upscale, four-star independent hotels, will build on the foundation of its first committed hotel, the Royal Palm South Beach in Miami, which is owned by lodging REIT Chesapeake Lodging Trust.
Additional properties are slated to take on the Tribute Portfolio mantle shortly in Asheville, NC; Charleston, SC; Nashville, TN; and Savannah, GA.
The move gives Starwood its 10th brand and second independent hotel collection, adding to its The Luxury Collection of five-star hotels. It also fills a “white space” for the company.
“Twenty years ago, Starwood introduced The Luxury Collection and, a few years ago, some of our competitors took a version of The Luxury Collection idea and launched a four-star, upper-upscale collection brand and have been successful in that effort. And, we realized, having a potent Collection brand in the luxury tier, that Collection brands do work; soft brands do work and given that about half of the world’s hotel industry is made up of independent hotels run by independent hoteliers that there’s enormous opportunity for Starwood to fill a void in our own platform,” Adam Aron, Starwood’s interim CEO, told Hotel Business.
The executive noted the idea for Tribute Portfolio has been in the works since mid-2014.When he filled in the C-Suite spot following President/CEO Frits van Paasschen’s departure on Feb. 17, Aron said he essentially was tasked by the board of directors to do two things: help Starwood become a more-efficient and successful operator of hotels and accelerate the company’s growth.
“And when you think about accelerating our growth, what we’re now calling the Tribute Portfolio is a no-brainer. There is a niche that is a real niche and Starwood did not have an entrant in that space and now we do,” said Aron.
The Portfolio also will fill guest demand for more destinations in the segment, particularly from Starwood Preferred Guest loyalty program members, whose viewpoints were an intrinsic part of putting the new collection together.
“Our SPG members constantly tell us they want more choices in more destinations, and we see Tribute Portfolio as a nod to our members who have been front and center as we developed this brand,” said Mark Vondrasek, Starwood’s SVP/distribution, loyalty and partnership marketing.
Starwood is forecasting 100 Tribute Portfolio hotels in five years, germinating first in North America and Europe.
Dave Marr, SVP/brand management, North America and global brand leader for Tribute Portfolio, said, “Nearly 50% of upper-upscale hotels in the United States are independent and, likewise, 60% of four-star hotels globally are not affiliated with a brand flag. This provides Starwood with a vast landscape to grow Tribute Portfolio.”
—Stefani C. O’Connor
[Editor’s Note: Expanded coverage on Starwood’s latest brand is scheduled for the May 7 issue of Hotel Business.]