The Marriott and Starwood merger is finally complete, with the deal clearing all regulatory hurdles. With any uncertainty put to rest, it is time to consider the host of new implications for loyalty members for what will become the most valuable hotel loyalty program in the world.
Nearly a year after announcing plans to acquire Starwood Hotel & Resorts, Marriott International is now officially the world’s largest hotel company, a merger that expands the brand’s portfolio as well as the benefits that loyalty members can now reap. Yes, so far the news appears to be good and you may already have received proactive news on this if you have points with either Marriott Rewards or Starwood Preferred Guest. Most significantly, Marriott CEO Arne Sorenson announced in a letter to members of both loyalty programs that a joint loyalty program won’t be ready till 2018.
To appease nervous guests who had racked up a healthy number of points with either, Marriott announced that members will have their status matched across both programs, giving them access to brands and destinations previously unavailable.
For instance, Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) members will now be able to reap benefits at luxury brands like the Ritz-Carlton and Bulgari Hotels & Resorts, while Marriott Rewards members can now accrue points for stays at the Sheraton, Aloft, St. Regis and W Hotels.
Likewise, Marriott Rewards members now have access to new destinations like the Maldives, Santorini, Greece and Bora Bora, while SPG members have access to Aruba, Serchio Valley in Tuscany and Kruger National Park in South Africa.
Overall, that translates to 30 hotel brands, 5,700 hotels and 1.1 million rooms in over 110 countries, says Marriott International.
Guests who book directly through the Marriott mobile or SPG app will also receive free in-room wifi. We’re not sure free wifi in this day and age is that impressive though.