From the annual International Luxury Travel Market (ILTM), Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. has announced an expanded partnership with Design Hotels AG, which consumers will see as an 11th Starwood brand. The move comes just seven months after Starwood launched its 10th brand, Tribute Portfolio. Since 2011, Starwood has been a majority but passive investor in the Berlin-based Design Hotels, which for more than two decades has served as a global distribution, sales and marketing affiliation for nearly 300 independently owned and operated hotels and resorts united by the vision of bold, diverse hoteliers, known as “Originals.”
Select member hotels of Design Hotels are now bookable through Starwood’s websites, mobile apps and global network of Customer Contact Centers, giving Starwood Preferred Guest Members more access to experiences in high-demand destinations. Guests who book directly through Starwood channels will now receive select SPG benefits and earn Starpoints during their stays at participating member hotels of Design Hotels. The partnership will also boost exposure for Design Hotels across Starwood’s industry-leading distribution and loyalty platforms, while further introducing Starwood Hotels and its award-winning SPG program to a new set of global travelers.
“Starwood’s hotel guests and SPG members will see our new marketing partnership with Design Hotels as an 11th Starwood 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 CEO on an interim basis. “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.”
The first SPG partner hotels include the Gramercy Park Hotel in New York City, Ten Bompas in Johannesburg, South Africa, the C-Hotel in Lake Como, Italy, Nira Montana in La Thuile, Italy, Nira Alpina in St. Moritz, Switzerland, and Kruisherenhotel Maastricht in the Netherlands. In addition, the ION Luxury Adventure Hotel in Iceland, the Tribe Hotel in Kenya as well as Grupo Habita’s hotels in Mexico will join prior to year end. In early 2016, member hotels of Design Hotels will join from major destinations, including London (Town Hall Hotel), Istanbul (Gezi Istanbul), Shanghai (The Waterhouse at South Bund), Athens (New Hotel), Singapore (Wanderlust), France (Les Bains), and South Korea (nest hotel). With 296 affiliated hotels in a wide variety of settings, from great capital cities to beach retreats, mountain resorts, offbeat spots, and far beyond, more member hotels of the Design Hotels portfolio are expected to sign up over the next 12 months.
“Since launching Design Hotels more than 20 years ago, we have built an engaged community of followers and an outstanding portfolio of hotels created by artisans whose visions provide guests with a meaningful and original experience,” said Claus Sendlinger, founder and CEO of Design Hotels. “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. We expect more and more to take advantage, with at least 40 member hotels projected to join by the beginning of 2016.”
SPG Members who book stays at participating member hotels of Design Hotels through Starwood channels will receive the following benefits: Two Starpoints per eligible U.S. dollar spent (three Starpoints for Gold Preferred and Platinum Preferred Members); on-property benefits of high-speed Internet access and bottled water in-room; Gold Preferred and Platinum Preferred Members will automatically receive a Starpoints bonus as their Welcome Gift; and Free Night redemption is planned to be available as of March 2016.
“This is an exciting new partnership for our SPG Members,” said Mark Vondrasek, Starwood’s senior vice president, Commercial Services. “Our concentration of high-end hotel brands plus partnerships with companies like Delta, Uber, American Express, and Emirates Airline—and now Design Hotels—continue to raise the stakes in loyalty and make it very compelling for travelers to choose to stay with Starwood.”
Design Hotels will continue to operate independently from Starwood under the leadership of Sendlinger and his team in Berlin, Germany. The expanded partnership with Starwood offers a distribution and loyalty benefit to member hotels and does not change the business model of Design Hotels, whose sales, marketing and development teams will remain distinct.