Author of www.HotelLawBlog.com
14 June 2007
Hotel Lawyer on the Schrager-Marriott marriage and its impact on lifestyle hotels. One of my steady themes here at www.HotelLawBlog.com, is that lifestyle hotels are the hottest thing going in new hotel development, particularly hotel mixed-use. (See, for example, “The new “LIFESTYLE” hotel brands are changing the hotel industry and hotel mixed-use.“) But at a press conference held on the roof of Schrager’s Gramercy Park Hotel in Manhattan at 10:00 am on June 14, 2007, Bill Marriott (chairman and CEO of Marriott International) and Ian Schrager (the founder of Ian Schrager Hotels, now known as “Morgans Hotels”) surprised most of the hotel industry with their news. Marriott (age 75) and Schrager (now 60) announced formal plans to partner in the creation of a new lifestyle boutique hotel brand. The as-yet-unnamed-brand will provide the high-design, boutique, lifestyle product that Schrager invented, with Marriott’s world-class hotel operating resources and development support.
For several years, industry experts have wondered how Marriott International could surrender leadership in the lifestyle boutique area to Starwood’s W brand, which some call a knockoff of Schrager’s original concept. Only half in jest, some predicted that Marriott would spawn a similarly hip “M” brand (which looks a lot like a “W” turned over). If Marriott is to reclaim its share of this exploding lifestyle segment, it clearly needed to move quickly to make up for lost time. But many think the marriage of Ian Schrager and Bill Marriott is doomed to an early divorce, if it even makes it to the conjugal bed. Doubtful pundits cite fundamental incompatibilities of style and approach. Meanwhile, Schrager and Marriott are projecting that at least five firm development deals will be signed for the new brand before 2008, and are looking for more than 100 hotels to be open within a decade.
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