Starwood Hotels & Resorts has officially added Design Hotels as an 11th brand to its portfolio, four years after it acquired a stake in the Berlin-based sales and marketing consortium.
Design Hotels was founded 20 years ago by chief executive Claus Sendlinger. Since 2011, Starwood has been a majority but passive investor in Design Hotels, which today has nearly 300 independent hotels all selected for their thought-provoking design, aesthetic and service-driven experiences.
Guests who now book directly through Starwood channels will now receive selected benefits of the Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) loyalty programme. The partnership will boost exposure for Design Hotels across Starwood's distribution and loyalty platforms, while further introducing Starwood Hotels to a new set of travellers.
The first SPG partner hotels include the Gramercy Park hotel in New York, Ten Bompas in Johannesburg, and the C-Hotel in Lake Como, Italy, while a total of 40 hotels - including London's Town Hall hotel - are expected to sign up by early 2016.
It is not yet known when or whether the other 12 Design Hotels in the UK, which include the eight-strong portfolio of Firmdale Hotels, will join the programme.
Adam Aron, interim chief executive at Starwood, said the agreement would create a special niche in the company's brands portfolio, offering more options for guests. "These independent, design-forward hotels will benefit from Starwood's powerful loyalty and distribution platforms. They will also serve to help us enhance owner and shareholder returns and attract more high-value guests to SPG who make up more than half of all Starwood stays," he said.
Sendlinger added: "Since launching Design Hotels we have built an engaged community of followers and an outstanding portfolio of hotels created by artisans whose visions provide guests with a meaningful and original experience."