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Starwood launches "Sheraton Grand" to single out top-tier Sheraton hotels

Starwood Hotels & Resorts launched a new brand, Sheraton Grand, to better promote its properties that stand out in the (large) Sheraton crowd. This strategy rings a bell, as similar ones have been developed in the past by other midscale & upscale brands; it also points to the currently growing trend of "umbrella" branding.

Starwood Hotels & Resorts announced the launch of a new subsidiary brand within the Sheraton portfolio, Sheraton Grand. Adam Aron, interim CEO of Starwood Hotels & Resorts, explained the rationale of this new strategic move, which is part of the "Sheraton 2020" plan, as follows: "Sheraton is Starwood's largest and most global brand, and as we continue our work to firmly keep Sheraton in the spotlight, we recognize the need to better match guest expectations for the brand around the world, Sheraton Grand celebrates our standout hotels and helps us further reinforce Sheraton as a trusted voice in global travel."

Sheraton Grand will thus aim to gather Sheraton Hotels that deliver a better customer experience, which is defined through criteria including the property's equipment (design of the rooms, restaurant, spa, lobby, Club lounge, convention hotels), location (mostly top-tier urban & resort destinations) and guest satisfaction, measured through the property's capacity to outperform its guest satisfaction benchmark.

10 hotels have already been rebranded as Sheraton Grand :

  • Sheraton Grand Bangalore Hotel - Brigade Gateway (India)
  • Sheraton Grand Beijing Dongcheng Hotel (China)
  • Sheraton Grand Hotel, Dubai (UAE)
  • Sheraton Grand Edinburgh Hotel (UK)
  • Sheraton Grand Rio Hotel & Resort (Brazil)
  • Sheraton Grande Ocean Resort (Miyazaki, Japan)
  • Sheraton Grande Sukhumvit (Bangkok, Thailand)
  • Sheraton Grande Taipei Hotel (Taiwan)
  • Sheraton Grande Tokyo Bay Hotel (@Tokyo Disney Resort, Japan)
  • and Sheraton Grande Walkerhill (Seoul, Korea)

David Marr, Senior VP Global Brand Leader at Sheraton Hotels & Resorts, said the goal was to reach 100 Sheraton Grand properties by 2017; to do so he intends to "work with our owners to open new Sheraton Grand hotels or renovate existing properties to ensure a consistent and exceptional experience in our new premier tier".

In other words, through this fresh brand launch Starwood is seeking to put a higher pressure on its Sheraton owners to renovate their properties, and by doing so to raise the brand's quality standards. Indeed, the brand has to cope with a heterogeneous global portfolio, a frequent issue among midscale & upscale brands when they are both long-settled and flexible with owners, or when they need to make a difference among properties (think of now-defunct "Hilton National"). The chosen "Grand" name recalls in particlar a similar move undertaken by Accor two decades ago, in an attempt to better segment its Mercure portfolio (today, the Grand label is only present in Asia), or Hyatt's well-known "Grand Hyatt" label. Each time, the ultimate goal is to better promote properties that single out within global brand portfolios.

Starwood's strategic move is also in tune with one of the most significant recent trends in hotel marketing, the shift towards "umbrella branding". Numerous market actors have now embraced this approach: Best Western (with its "Plus" and "Premium" brands), Ibis (although this one was built by gathering formerly separate brands, rather than a portfolio split), NH (with Nhow, NH Collection), Melia (Gran Melia), or Carlson Rezidor (Radisson Red). With Sheraton Grand, a new member joined the (grand) family of umbrella brands.

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