Marriott is the world’s largest hotelier. Period.
And it catapulted to this position after its merger with Starwood Hotels and Resorts in September 2016. At the time of writing, 32 different hotel brands are housed under the Marriott International umbrella. It’s no small number. And running them ain’t no small feat.
In fact, it’s a pretty big deal.
Each brand has a distinctive character to it, designed and developed to a specific type of traveller. Marriott has a hotel for every kind of traveler. The properties range from ultra-luxurious to your basic city hotel. Their large global footprint also lets them run a very lucrative loyalty program, Marriott Bonvoy, which we’ll take a look at too in this guide.
All right. Let’s dive in. If you’d like to visit the website of any brand, simply click on the logo.
The Top Line – Ultra Luxury
The best of the best that Marriott has to offer. And it does get impressive!
Perhaps the most iconic name in the hotel industry. St. Regis has and always will be a brand that sells dreams. St.Regis offers daily ‘Signature Rituals’ aka exclusive St.Regis experiences such as the Original Bloody Mary and Midnight Suppers. The properties are quite stunning too, and aptly termed as ‘Exquisite Escapes’.
St.Regis is preferred by many luxury travellers. With a host of complimentary services (including butler service), St.Regis is a fantastic embodiment of everything that luxury stands for.
There are 45 St. Regis hotels around the world, spread across 26 countries.
Ah, the Ritz-Carlton. There’s more than 100 of these spread across 30 countries. The Ritz-Carlton was Marriott International’s signature brand for a long time.
Nowadays, Ritz-Carlton has evolved to be the luxury getaway option for Marriott loyal families. With vast golf-courses, exotic yachts and curated experiences in some truly iconic locations, the Ritz-Carlton remains as ritzy as ever.
A brand that once set the definition for luxury accommodation is now playing a part in redefining it. And luxury travellers are all for this evolution!
The JW Marriot brand operates by an interesting philosophy. ‘True luxury is created by people who are passionate about what they do.’ This is built upon the legacy of J. William Marriott’s dedication to mindfulness and excellence.
The JW Marriott brand is more than three decades old and has over 80 properties around the world. The brand delivers mindful luxury living, setting the stage to help you get in touch with your deeper self. The properties are designed to help you gain focus and achieve greater overall wellness.
EDITION is Marriott’s take on modern luxury. The design language is muted and open, complemented by intimate touches scattered all across the lodges. Luxury begins as soon as you step in. Each EDITION guest room is at least 400 sq.ft large and houses several amenities. Each property also has unique, splendid entertainment venues such as a rooftop, bar or both.
EDITION hotels offer something that very few hotel brands can boast of; a personal, intimate, authentic yet sophisticated lodging experience. The service here is warmer, quieter, friendlier and well, outstanding. There’s 10 of these around the globe, with more in the pipeline.
Marriot International operates many places with historical and cultural significance as lodges. The Luxury Collection delivers once in a lifetime experiences like a private island in Seychelles or uncovering local secrets inside your hotel in Prague. This is a brand that’ll change your perception on hotels.
Several palaces, resorts and other properties that are splendid destinations by themselves are housed under The Luxury Collection. There’s a 110 of them and each property enables authentic immersion into the local culture, enhanced by a selection of carefully curated exhilarating experiences. Many Luxury Collection properties can often be perceived as outrageous, usually a part of their charm. And often, culturally accurate.
If radical luxury was a term (hint: it is), then W Hotels would be the best personification of it. Widely considered as the loudest luxury brand in Marriott’s portfolio, the W energy is electrifying. W Hotels is targeted towards younger, eccentric and spontaneous travellers. The brand infuses cutting-edge elements such as design, fashion, music and passion to create a bold, thrilling atmosphere.
The first W opened in New York City during the late 1990s and became an instant hit. W Hotels now has a global footprint of nearly 60 properties in party capitals across the world.
Bulgari is perhaps the most recent edition to Marriott International’s ultra-luxury line-up. And it’s got a lot going for it. The properties are enveloped by an essence as exhilarating as the contemporary and bold style of the Italian jeweller.
There’s only 7 of these around the world, with 3 more in the pipeline. They’re strategically located at prestigious addresses and feature a blend of dramatic Italian architecture and local cultures.
The properties themselves are architectural art. They’re imposing and leave a strong precedent for the experiences they enable.
And taking the exclusivity a notch further, Bulgari hotels don’t participate in Marriott Bonvoy. After all, Bulgari isn’t just another Marriott Brand.
The original Marriott boasts of inspirational spaces designed with your mind in mind. Since these properties are among the oldest you can find within the Marriott portfolio, Marriott has gone ahead and renovated quite a few to bring them upto Marriott’s evolved standards.
The refurbished properties are more pleasant, inviting and exciting. It’s the brand to choose when you’re looking for the original Marriott experience. Renewed but still every bit a Marriott. They’ve also partnered with TED to create experiences that positively add to your stay.
The flagship Marriott brand has grown to over 600 full-service properties, a far cry from the 2 Washington D.C motels it began with in the 1950s.
The Autograph Collection is somewhat of a subdued twin to The Luxury Collection. Just like its brother, every hotel in The Autograph Collection has a unique backstory to it. The only difference being, it isn’t over-the-top luxurious.
Staying at one of these properties makes for an immersive experience and leaves you with an interesting story about your journey. Every single property out of the nearly 200 worldwide holds its own, with dedicated artistry, character, design and architecture.
Autograph Collection is an affordable brand big on original experiences.
Le Meridien is a famous name in the travel industry, well-known for the sophisticated lodging experience it offers self-assured travellers. The properties feature contemporary yet modern design with strong European elements. Le Meridien is also big on gastronomy, with their delightful Savour programme.
The brand is targeted toward creative travellers as well, owing to its Parisian roots. With 100+ properties around the world, it’s an artsy and intimate way to explore your destination.
A Tribute Portfolio hotel can be best described as quirky. The experience is startlingly boutique and quite cozy, with the hotels featuring fresh and timeless designs you’ll easily settle into. Public spaces are colourful and expressive, giving life to imaginations. The brand embraces individualism, and the overall design language reflects this. Several Tribute Portfolio properties are old commercial buildings with history, repurposed as hotels. This allows for a truly unique aesthetic at each property.
Marriott also advertises this brand to full-service developers as they can take advantage of the open spaces. 42 hotels under the Tribute Portfolio brand invites the eccentric hidden inside all of us.
Westin is well-known as a wellness focused brand with a soothing, nature inspired design language. Westin has grown to a preeminent name in the wellness industry, backed by a rapidly growing global wellness trend.
Each Westin hotel has dedicated facilities to promote wellness and comfort, with rooms and open spaces designed to provide a calm and serene atmosphere. The hotels further provide signature products and programs to promote wellness. Westin is a wonderful, nature-inspired treat where sound sleep awaits.
The brand has more than 200 hotels spread across 36 countries. If you’d like to try what it has to offer, you probably wouldn’t have to travel very far.
The Sheraton is your quintessential star hotel. It’s among the oldest hotel chains in existence and was acquired by Starwood in 1997 and competed with the Marriott range. It was of course, acquired by Marriott in 2016 as part of the Starwood merger.
Sheraton has more than 500 properties around the world, of vastly varying age. As such, the quality varies too, sometimes dramatically. To combat this, Marriott announced a long-needed brand refresh in 2021 to incorporate contemporary aesthetics and community elements into the Sheraton brand. The move is predicted to help keep the 80 year old brand relevant going into the future.
Design hotels aim to offer a deeply local, comfortable lodging experience. The properties are predominantly located in Europe with a few in Asia. These lodges hold cultural significance as they’re also often destinations by themselves, usually housed in historically important buildings or in exotic locales within a city.
Think of them as a twin to The Autograph Collection, The cultural identity of Design hotels is achieved by reflecting the singular vision of an independent hotel developer. This leads to warm, ethnic hospitality complemented by modern, functional design.
Just like the name suggests, this is a hotel that celebrates work just as much as life. The properties feature open, expansive designs complemented by relatively louder elements. Each hotel comes with a navigator to show you things a guidebook won’t. Most hotels are new and intricately designed.
Renaissance hotels are located in prominent neighbourhoods to which the hotel acts as an extension of the cultural experience, making it the hotel for business travellers looking to be inspired by the local. There’s over 200 of these across almost 40 countries, with many more coming up.
This independent hotel chain was brought under the Marriott umbrella in 2015. The properties are designed to cater to the North American business traveller. You can take advantage of several perks tailored to business travellers alongside an all-day restaurant serving up great food and beverages. Delta provides a simple, no frills, very comfortable business hotel experience for those looking to touch and go. There’s over 80 Delta hotels across 7 North American countries.
Gaylord thrives on an ‘Everything in one place” philosophy. Meaning, their properties are vast complexes housing plenty of entertainment and meeting spaces. The model has been a hit with families looking for weekend vacations and with large corporates hosting huge conferences.
Each Gaylord property (there’s only 6, all in the U.S) has over 1500 rooms enclosed in magnificent buildings. The meeting spaces add to the aesthetic with their high atriums and well-done interiors. And since they’re resorts, they’ve got lots of outdoor spaces too.
Marriott Vacation Club is for those who love to travel in groups. This brand houses Marriot’s portfolio of vacation ownership (timeshare) properties. They’re located in several exotic destinations around the globe.
Vacation Club villas can be a fantastic option when you’re travelling as a family or group. Flexibility is an issue sometimes as properties you’re interested in might not be vacant on the dates you’d like to travel. But with more than 70 of these spread across the planet, there’s always a nice alternative you could try.
SELECT Line (Budget hotels)
One could say Courtyard represents the quintessential budget Marriott. Most of us have probably stayed at a Courtyard at least once. With more than 1000 branches worldwide, Courtyard is one of the largest hotel chains. You’d be hard pressed to find a country without one of these. Catering to both business and family travellers, the brand has been extensively marketed by Marriott.
Property standards vary dramatically from location to location. The one in Dubai for example, is your average budget hotel. While newer ones in Indian cities can be on par with a Westin or Sheraton. Yet, it remains a safe, go-to option for those looking for a place to crash.
Four-Points is Sheraton’s budget friendly sibling. And was Courtyard’s main competitor before the Marriott-SPG merger. Unsurprisingly, Four Points too is among the biggest hotel chains on the planet.
Newer Four Points properties would let you believe that you’re in a standard Sheraton and not the budget sibling. And Four-Points do usually tend to be great bang for the buck. There’s over 300 of these world-wide.
A brand that has affordable options of only suites across every property. Springhill Suites is great for families or groups travelling together who don’t want to take separate rooms. Each suite has separate sleeping, working and relaxation spaces. The decor is more homely, making it an excellent option for those staying longer. And you get all the standard amenities of a 4-star hotel to boot. The brand has over 450 hotels spread across North America.
Fairfield is Marriott’s conventional budget hotel brand. Fairfield has long been the steppingstone for nouveau luxury travellers into the Marriott universe. The properties are surprisingly consistent throughout and Fairfield is another among the largest hotel chains with over 1000 hotels worldwide.
Fairfield remains the default for frequent travellers who appreciate the familiarity regardless of the destination. Apart from the standard amenities, you can further take advantage of the 24/7 Grab & Go market and free coffee.
Protea is the largest hotel chain in Africa and houses two brands. Protea Hotels and Protea Hotels Fire & Ice!. The former is a mid-tier hotel brand while Fire & Ice! is more of a lifestyle hotel brand.
The chain operates a diverse range of more than 100 properties across 9 African countries, striving to enable an enjoyable guest experience inspired by the local culture. Protea establishes Marriott’s presence in Africa as well, in the best way possible.
Marriott categorizes the next few properties under ‘Distinctive Select’. They’re budget hotels with more personality.
AC hotels is a collection of low-category yet decent quality hotels that originated in Spain. These hotels are designed for minimalists and feature European elements.
Despite being affordable, the properties are quite pleasant to stay in, often contributing to the overall aesthetic of your trip. The brand also offers complimentary sensory experiences to maximise zen. There’s over 170 AC Hotels across 20 countries.
Aloft is a hotel brand created for the mobile millennial. The brand follows the W design language in a more subdued manner. You could consider Aloft the budget subsidiary of W.
The brand takes a more contemporary approach to design, with its industrial interiors and bright colours. They’re also quite techy, incorporating modern technology in their rooms and public spaces. Aloft is your quintessential boutique hotel on a budget. There’s over 178 of these across 11 countries.
This is my favourite budget Marriott brand. And it’s also the newest. Moxy is an up and coming design focused, ultra-affordable hotel brand that’s focused towards millennial and Gen-Z travellers.
The rooms are small but cleverly designed with signature touches like floor to ceiling windows, while forgoing usual amenities such as a wardrobe. You check in at the bar and iron your clothes in the communal rooms. Moxy is less hotel and more hostel. And it’s incredible.
If you love minimalism, you’ll love Moxy. If you need a nightstand or desk, give Moxy a pass.
Marriott Executive Apartments work hard to lend you the feeling of living in a temporary home. You get all the standard amenities alongside some extras such as laundry facilities and weekly housekeeping. It’s perfect for business travellers who want the convenience of a hotel with the comfort of a longer stay in an apartment.
While Executive Apartments contain studios, one and two bedroom apartments, the Residence Inn builds upon Fairfield; the properties only have suites. These are more ideal for families and groups travelling as tourists who don’t really need the amenities of a full-fledged apartment.
Spacious suites with full kitchens that allow you to properly settle in. While meant for business travellers, it’s also perfect for families. TownePlace Suites features free hot breakfast at every property. This brand too offers only suites, with its amenities enabling a complete home away from home experience.
Element is among the more design focused, sustainable options in Marriot’s longer stay portfolio. The amenities are closer to a hotel, making this an ideal option for people who are mostly on the go. The brand is centred around the theme of wellness, sustainability and balance, like Westin.
Home & Villas is Marriott’s answer to home sharing services like Airbnb, but with the trademark Marriott quality. The higher standards are further enhanced by their unique collection of properties. With some of them being destinations themselves.
You can rent out ski villas, mansions, castles, mountain cabins, beach houses and much more. The portfolio houses plenty drool worthy properties. You’re also spoilt for choice here, with more than 2000 properties to choose from across over a 100 countries.
Marriott International has tied up with local hotel brands in several countries where Bonvoy members can accumulate and spend points. Some of these partnerships are with exceptional brands, like ITC in India. The move has been widely praised by the travel community while also allowing Marriott to increase their brand footprint in locations with fewer properties.
The Marriott Bonvoy program covers more than 7000 properties across 130 countries and nearly all of the brands covered above. It’s hands down, among the best loyalty programs you can enrol in (of all loyalty programs in existence today). Marriott additionally offers co-branded credit cards in many countries.
The loyalty benefits are worth leveraging, with top-tier members earning a 14% return on their stays. Besides, Marriott runs excellent Bonvoy promotions every year. If you travel often for business, the Marriott Bonvoy membership is a no-brainer. Plus, it’s free to enrol.
Dropping the Mic
Most of these brands have fairly minor differences. However, the differences are strong enough that each brand does manage to distinctly hold its own. If you find yourself confused, you’re better off choosing a category and going with the property you like best rather than a specific brand. Most of the older brands also hugely vary in standards across properties, which is something to keep in mind while booking. Always read plenty of reviews before you reserve rooms.
I hope this guide has helped you navigate the expansive Marriott portfolio. Please subscribe to the Exalted Poise newsletter for insider tips, luxury travel hacking and the latest in experiential luxury!