by Michael J. Shapiro | December 02, 2015
Starwood Hotels and Resorts expanded its partnership with Berlin-based Design Hotels, a distribution, sales and marketing network for nearly 300 independently owned and operated properties. Starwood has been a majority but passive investor in Design since 2011. Design member hotels now have the option of joining Starwood's distribution network, as well as the SPG loyalty program; although Starwood will not be operating the properties, consumers will see Design Hotels as Starwood's 11th brand.

"It will create a special niche in our distinct portfolio of global brands and offer more options for travelers to stay with us around the world," said Adam Aron, Starwood interim CEO. "These independent, design-forward hotels will benefit from Starwood's powerful loyalty and distribution platforms. They will also serve to help us enhance owner and shareholder returns and attract more high-value guests to SPG, who make up more than half of all Starwood stays."

Design's first SPG partner hotels are the 185-room Gramercy Park Hotel in New York City; 10-room Ten Bompas in Johannesburg, South Africa; 18-room C-Hotel & Spa in Lake Como, Italy; 55-room Nira Montana in La Thuile, Italy; 70-room Nira Alpina in St. Moritz, Switzerland; and 60-room Kruisherenhotel Maastricht,  Netherlands. Expected to join by the end of this year are the 22-room ION Luxury Adventure Hotel in Selfoss, Iceland; 142-room Tribe Hotel in Gigiri, Kenya, and Grupo Habita's 13 hotels in Mexico. 

Slated to become SPG partner hotels in early 2016 are the 98-room Town Hall Hotel in London; 67-room Gezi Hotel Bosphorus Istanbul, Turkey; 19-room The Waterhouse at South Bund in Shanghai, China; 79-room New Hotel in Athens, Greece; 29-room Wanderlust Hotel in Singapore; 39-room Les Bains in Paris; and 370-room Nest Hotel in Incheon, South Korea.

"As we continue to grow in our niche of the 'New Luxury Segment,' we are excited to see an initial selection of our member hotels take the opportunity to join SPG and be among the first to benefit from our partnership with Starwood," said Design Hotels CEO and founder Claus Sendlinger. "We expect more and more to take advantage, with at least 40 member hotels projected to join by the beginning of 2016."

The new marketing partnership doesn't change the Design Hotels business model, and the sales, marketing and development teams will remain independent of one another.