BREAKING: Marriott To Acquire Starwood Hotels

There’s big news in the hotel industry this morning.  I woke up to the following Tweet:

Marriott To Acquire Starwood Hotels

Marriott, one of the biggest players in the hotel industry, is buying Starwood.  Scott Mayerowitz had the scoop this morning, and it’s a big scoop.  For those of you who like to leverage loyalty programs for wonderful vacations, it’s probably a bad scoop as well.

Fans of the Marriott Rewards loyalty program should love this announcement.  They get a number of top-notch properties in markets where Marriott may already have a presence but likely nothing as special as properties like The Hotel Danieli in Venice or the Arion in Greece.  It adds some overlap in the Four Points and Sheraton brands for properties at the bottom of the market as well.

For Starwood Preferred Guest fans, there’s not much to love if the loyalty programs get combined, something I would view as highly likely.  When we were talking about a combination of Hyatt and Starwood, the discussion was about two chains much more similar in size.  But, given how big Marriott is (roughly 3 times as many properties as Starwood) and how many members Marriott Rewards has, that’s likely the surviving program.

If SPG does get folded into Marriott Rewards, SPG elite members stand to lose such benefits as suite upgrades for Platinum members and lifetime elite status that’s much more valuable than the version offered by Marriott.

Other benefits that could go away are SPG’s incredibly generous transfer ratio to airline partners (1:1 with a 25% bonus for larger transfers), a more generous version of Nights & Flights and the credit card relationship with American Express.

For me, the biggest loss is the devaluation of my lifetime Platinum status with SPG.  I have elite status with Marriott through my United Airlines elite status but haven’t stayed at a Marriott hotel in years.

There is the potential for a DOJ review here for market share issues, but I don’t see that as being a serious impediment.

Lots more to come on Scott’s early scoop this morning.



  1. This is horrible news for anyone with SPG status. Everything from the point accumulation to upgrades is going to suck from now on. Let’s face it, the highest end Marriott cannot compete with a W.

  2. Seems like a good idea to sign up for the SPG credit card now and get the 25,000 bonus points with no annual fee. 1. At the very least, if you already got a sign-up bonus with a Marriott card like I did, this would be a way of padding your existing Marriott account in a way you would not be able to otherwise if you burned your eligibility. 2. Is there a chance SPG points will transfer at a premium?

    Lots of discussion out there about how much more valuable SPG points are but if you consider that premiere card can award up to 80,000 sign-up bonus points, 2x points for dining and rental cars and some generous bonus offers like 5000 for a one-week rental, plus a free level 5 hotel per year ($200-$300 value) I think it’s pretty easy as a savvy member to make up the difference. I don’t travel 50 days a year so I can’t speak to the high elite benefits or the relative quality of luxury accommodations. But from where I stand, Marriott hasn’t been so bad to me.

    1. thewonderer, I definitely think it makes sense to apply for the SPG credit card if you haven’t so far. Those points will definitely transfer at some point. I have no idea if they’ll transfer at par or some sort of premium, though I can certainly make the argument they should convert at a premium. I just can’t recall any instances where that has happened.

      While 2X points on dining and rental cars is nice, I would argue that earning those points on a card that earns Chase Ultimate Rewards points is a better play, as you can still earn a 2X bonus with certain cards and have the flexibility to put the points somewhere other than Marriott.

      1. I definitely see your point. I think I was looking at it as an either/or on the credit card comparison alone. I think the marriott premiere is a better card. What I have read about the Starwood reward program itself certainly indicates it is superior and a credit card is only one way to get those points. I do have Ultimate Rewards and it is great together with Discover to capitalize on 5% quarterly bonuses so I switch around depending on my targeted rewards.

        1. Thewonderer, everyone has their own value for Starpoints and MR points. I would say Starpoints are worth roughly a bit more than double an MR point. So, if spending requirements were the same, I’d equate a 30K SPG bonus to 65,000-70,000 MR bonus. 80K for signing up for MR credit card is a better than average deal for sure. But, given that I think the SPG AMEX is more likely to go away first, I’d sign up there first. That being said, AMEX has been getting it’s teeth kicked in, losing Costco, etc. So, maybe they back up the armored car for Marriott.

  3. I am so upset about this! I spend 100+ nights in SPG hotels each year and have “Ambassador” status. Someone needs to start a group where all the platinum SPG members can join together and boycott staying at SPG or Marriott hotels unless they guarantee us the same benefits and point value. Is anyone starting something like that?

    1. Daniel, the problem is Marriott is 2x the size of SPG, so I’d expect their top-tier elite numbers are at least twice as big (could be more given how many properties they have). I spent 100+ nights the past couple of years and got an Ambassador. While I like my Ambassador very much personally, I feel like the properties still don’t do much extra for Ambassadors. My goal this year was to get to 75 nights but I will fall short of that. My advice? Get a status match to Hyatt Diamond and ask for a Private Line Agent.

  4. This news was heartbreaking! Anja and I were already planning all sorts of ‘around the world’ vacations and 18 new places we were going to make our next move to! LOL!

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