Last updated: 11:15 AM ET, Thu April 16 2015

Starwood Hotels Debuts New Tribute Portfolio Brand

Hotel & Resort | Starwood Hotels and Resorts | James Shillinglaw | April 16, 2015

Starwood Hotels Debuts New Tribute Portfolio Brand

PHOTO: The Royal Palm resort in Miami Beach is the first property in Starwood’s Tribute Portfolio. (Courtesy of Starwood Hotels & Resorts)

Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide has long furnished marketing, sales and distribution services for independent five-star hotels through its Luxury Collection brand. Now it’s taking aim at the four-star, upper upscale segment of the market with the new Tribute Portfolio, a collection of hotels and resorts that it hopes to grow to 100 by 2020. The new brand is the 10th in Starwood’s portfolio.

So far, Starwood Hotels has signed up five properties for its new collection—the newly refurbished Royal Palm in Miami Beach and four new hotels in Ashville, N.C.; Nashville, Tenn.; Savannah, Ga.; and Charleston, S.C. The Asheville and Nashville hotels will be in existing buildings that are being converted into hotels, while the Savannah and Charleston properties will be newbuilds. All of these properties, as well as new additions to the collection, will carry the Tribute Portfolio logo under their independent names as well as the tagline “Stay Independent.” Starwood says it is currently on track to have 10 hotels in the collection within the first year.

Starwood is initially targeting North America and Europe for growth in its new Tribute Portfolio, but the brand is being launched globally. Cities targeted for development follow the preferences of Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) customers, who were surveyed to see if they would stay in an independent hotel (89 percent said yes) and if they had stayed at an independent hotel (70 percent said yes). SPG is Starwood’s frequent guest loyalty program, which will now feature hotels that are part of the Tribute Portfolio collection.

SPG members also identified a diverse North American hotel wish-list that includes more Florida and Caribbean resorts as well as locations in California wine country, Las Vegas, and boutique markets like Savannah, Georgia, and Charleston, South Carolina. Global destinations identified by SPG members include Alpine ski markets, African safari retreats, Southeast Asia resorts and Northern Europe, especially the Nordic countries.  SPG members surveyed also desired more hotels in South America, including Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo and Buenos Aires, as well as across Asia in primary markets such as Tokyo, Hong Kong and Singapore. 

"Our mission with Tribute Portfolio is very simple: bring great hotels in great destinations to our loyal SPG members." - Adam Aron, CEO, Starwood Hotels

“With Starwood’s history of brand innovation, design leadership and our leading global high-end footprint, we believe Tribute Portfolio will be an exciting solution for hotel owners of distinct properties who wish to maintain their independent spirit, yet benefit from Starwood’s powerful distribution, loyalty and sales platforms,” said Starwood CEO Adam Aron. “Our mission with Tribute Portfolio is very simple: bring great hotels in great destinations to our loyal SPG members, who make up more than half of all Starwood stays. We recognize that independent hotels also attract guests who are not already affiliated with SPG. Tribute Portfolio will provide a clear opportunity for us to grow our SPG member base and deliver more loyal guests across all of our Starwood hotels worldwide.”

Dave Marr, senior vice president of brand management-North America and global brands, said 50 percent of upper upscale hotels in the U.S. are independent and 60 percent of four-star hotels globally are not affiliated with brand, which provides Starwood with an opportunity to grow the Tribute Portfolio brand.

“In speaking with many owners, it is clear that they welcome the opportunity to partner with Starwood to enhance the performance of their independent hotels,” he said. “They are attracted to the benefits that will come from the power of SPG and our high-end Starwood sales customers coupled with the flexibility of minimal brand specific standards.”

Starwood’s Luxury Collection brand, which the company dubs the hotel industry’s original “collection” brand, features over 100 of the world’s most iconic independent luxury hotels. The brand has tripled its footprint and has grown more than 60 percent in the last five years alone.

Tribute Portfolio properties will be located in high-demand destinations and markets where SPG members travel but where Starwood has little or no footprint. Indeed, Aron said that while the brand will have hotels in the same category as Starwood’s franchised brands, it will not necessarily compete with them. In Miami, for example, the W Hotel is often sold out, he said, but with the addition of the Royal Palm, Starwood customers will have another accommodations option.

As with Starwood’s other nine brands, SPG members will be able to earn and redeem Starpoints at Tribute Portfolio hotels and enjoy in-hotel elite tier benefits, such as upgrades, welcome amenities, late check-out and more. In celebration of Starwood’s 10th brand, SPG is offering members up to 10,000 bonus points for stays at Tribute Portfolio hotels through July 15, 2015.

The Tribute Portfolio’s first property, the Royal Palm South Beach Miami, features direct beach access to South Beach and is on Collins Avenue near Ocean Drive and the area’s luxury retail shopping and entertainment district. Owned by Chesapeake Lodging Trust and managed by HEI Hotels & Resorts, the Royal Palm South Beach, a Tribute Portfolio Resort, has been recently restored by Lauren Rottet of Rottet Studio as a modern homage to the hotel’s rich history.

Dating back to 1939, the Royal Palm features 393 guestrooms, including more than 100 suites, two swimming pools surrounded by contemporary cabanas, a fully equipped gym, and more than 10,000 square feet of modern meeting and event space.

The Tribute Portfolio also launches in Asheville with the BB&T Bank building, which draws inspiration from modernist architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, which will open in 2017 as the Vandre Nouveau Hotel, a Tribute Portfolio Hotel. The property is a partnership between McKibbon Hotel Group and Tower Associates and will include 150 guest rooms and suites, a destination restaurant and lobby bar, and more than 4,000 square feet of meeting and event space.

Starwood is also working with Rockbridge to open three Tribute Portfolio hotels.  Debuting in 2016, the Noel Place Hotel in the Printers Alley area of downtown Nashville will undergo a comprehensive renovation and feature 166 guestrooms and suites, a destination restaurant, rooftop bar and speakeasy.

Also slated to open in 2016, is a new build hotel in Savannah located on River Street in the city’s Historic District. It will include 173 guestrooms and suites, an 11,000-square-foot indoor/outdoor rooftop bar, outdoor swimming pool, and destination restaurant.  In 2017, Tribute Portfolio will debut in Charleston’s historic district with a 100-room hotel featuring a rooftop pool and bar, signature restaurant, and 11,000 square feet of indoor/outdoor meeting and event space.

Starwood launched the new Tribute Portfolio brand with full-page advertisements in the Wall Street Journal and USA Today, showcasing the Royal Palm. The company also launched a global campaign to promote Tribute Portfolio in digital, social and traditional media channels, including advertising in both consumer and B2B print and digital outlets and event activations in key global markets. Starwood has also partnered with Instagram as one of the first brands to utilize the photo sharing platform’s new ad carousel format.

Tribute Portfolio also is being launched with a digital initiative that will zero in on the experiences found at hotels throughout the brand. Dubbed #OurLikes, the campaign will celebrate the features that travelers love about staying independent.  These vignettes from guests will unveil the secret spots, must-sees and can’t miss experiences of Tribute Portfolio hotels.


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