Since the Marriott and Starwood merger, Marriott has developed a problem. They can’t seem to keep their owners from changing the flags to another brand or selling the hotel. It is fairly normal for hotel chains to have hotels come and go but since the merger, the number of hotels leaving Marriott has been significantly greater than the number of top-tier hotels changing flags to Marriott.
In July of this year, the St. Regis Dubai, St. Regis Dubai Polo Club, W Dubai Habtoor City, and the Westin Dubai Al Habtoor City all decided to drop from the Marriott brand. That represented over 2000 rooms, approximately 33% of the available Marriott rooms in the Dubai at the time. Marriott has since opened up some new hotels in the area (W Duabi – The Palm and The St.Regis – The Palm). They were newly built with different ownership not changes in existing flags.
It was reported back in August that the St.Regis Princeville would be leaving the brand. The hotel will officially leave the group on November 16, 2018. Until November 15, points redemption bookings are still available but after that the hotel is not accepting any new ones. If you currently have a reservation booked you should have received an email and your reservation should be honored. Marriott benefits will not apply past November 15.
It is rumored that the hotel will undergo an $80 million dollar renovation and will rebrand as a part of the 1 Hotels brand. The supposed buyer for the property is Starwood Capitol, whose CEO was the founder of SPG.
Le Meridien Tahiti
On October 16 of this year Le Meridien Tahiti became a Sofitel. They alerted people with reservations with just 4 days before the change was effective. I suppose this helps with people rushing to redeem points or book cash reservations before the changeover. It seems to be a common theme for Marriott to not provide customers fair notice. Guests who have already booked to stay at the property will have their reservations honored. Customers holding reservations should have received an email similar to this:
“As a valued Marriott Rewards member, we are writing to inform you of a change in the status of Le Meridien Tahiti. Since October 16, 2018, the property is no longer part of Marriott International or Le Meridien brand and no longer participate in the Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) program. We see you are currently holding a reservation, arriving on xxx 2019 and departing on xxx 2019. We are pleased to inform you that the hotel will honor your reservation for a Preferred (free) Night Award, including Cash and Points, as your stay was originally confirmed. However, since the hotel will no longer be affiliated with the Starwood system, you will not earn Starpoints for any eligible charges incurred, nor will you receive any of your Starwood Preferred Guest membership amenities or benefits. We realize this may be disappointing but hope we can count on your understanding.”
If your reservation will not be honored or was cancelled, let me know as it looks like all reservations should have gotten a similar message.
Will More Hotels Drop The Marriott Flag?
There aren’t any additional hotels that I know are dropping their flag right now, but as we saw with Le Meridien Tahiti, it can happen in an instant. As you can see in the chart below the only properties Marriott seems to be losing are those requiring the highest point values and in unique areas where the hotel thinks it can do better without Marriott.
|Hotel||Category||Point Value Per Night|
|The St.Regis Dubai||Old 7, Likely New 8||est. 85,000|
|The St. Regis Dubai Polo Club||Old 6, Likely New 7||est. 60,000|
|W Dubai Al Habtoor City||Old 6, Likely New 7||est. 60,000|
|The Westin Dubai Al Habtoor City||New 4||25,000|
|St. Regis Princeville||New 8||85,000|
|Le Meriden Tahiti||New 5||35,000|
Most normal hotel flag contracts come in the form of 10 or 20 year agreements. All of the hotels that have dropped Marriott have come from legacy Starwood properties. I would not be surprised if SPG properties had a way out of their contracts due to the merger, and that is why we are seeing the increase.
The most disappointing loss is probably Le Meridien Tahiti, not because it is an amazing property but because it was the only SPG hotel in Tahiti. It was a good place to stop over on your way to Bora Bora. We did reach out to Marriott about the changes in flags but at the time this article published we have not received any comment back.