by Michael J. Shapiro | September 23, 2016
W Maldives and Marriott Marquis Washington, D.C.
 Marriott International closed its $13 billion acquisition of Starwood Hotels & Resorts today, becoming the world's largest hotel company as a result. The lodging giant now can boast 30 different brands, more than 5,700 hotels and 1.1 million rooms in its portfolio.

Today also marks the first step of loyalty-program integration - members of Marriott Rewards, Ritz-Carlton Rewards and SPG will see their status matched across all programs. Once they link their accounts, members will be able to transfer points between programs. A new microsite,, educates all loyalty members about the reciprocal benefits available to them.

"With the addition of Starwood's strong brands, great properties and talented people, we have dramatically expanded our ability to provide the best experiences to our customers," said J.W. Marriott Jr., executive chairman and chairman of the board of Marriott International. "We also welcome the tremendous responsibility as the world's largest hotel company to be a good global steward, providing new opportunities for our associates and building the economic strength of the communities we call home." 

Marriott's size will benefit owners and franchisees as well as guests, associates and shareholders, added Marriott president and CEO Arne Sorenson. "Enhanced efficiencies and revenue opportunities should drive improved property-level profitability," he said, "as well as greater owner and franchisee preference for the combined company's brands, which will encourage new hotel development. As new travel destinations emerge, Marriott can be counted on to be there."

Planners will find a much broader array of choices for groups among the Marriott hotel portfolio, pointed out Marriott executive vice president and global chief development officer Tony Capuano. "People are going to see a rapid acceleration in Marriott's resort footprint, lifestyle footprint and continued growth in the convention hotel network," he said. "I think you'll see us lengthen our lead as the biggest operator of big-box group hotels across North America and across the world."

Capuano noted Marriott's recent growth in the lifestyle segment, expanded more so by the deal that closed today. "It wasn't that long ago that Renaissance was reasonably the only lifestyle brand in our portfolio," he said. "We've now got as complete and vertical a stack of lifestyle brands as anyone in the industry. When you look at the evolution of consumer wants -- but also the evolution of the development community -- there is a growing, ravenous appetite for lifestyle brands. We are now uniquely positioned to capitalize on that appetite."