Hotels are Now Competing to NOT Spend Money to Upgrade Facilities

The Wall Street Journal covers the hot competition for hotel conversion brands (HT: Alan H.) with Marriott’s Delta hotels acquisition poised to compete with Hilton’s Doubletree for hotel owners that don’t want to spend a lot to bring their properties up to what would otherwise be a brand’s standards.

What’s the advantage to a hotel in becoming a Doubeltree?

Over the past 12 months ended in September, 96% of the net 4,406 new DoubleTree rooms were added by converting hotels from other brands, according to STR.

Most every hotel brand requires owners to pay for periodic renovations to keep the properties fresh. Hotel owners say in some cases they can save several million dollars by opting for DoubleTree.

“DoubleTree allows some freedom in standards,” said Robert Cole, chief executive officer of Hospitality Ventures Management Group, which owns and operates nine DoubleTrees, all of which were converted from other brands by his firm or by previous owners.

Mr. Cole said, for example, DoubleTree allows for individual air conditioning units in rooms, as opposed to requiring owners to install a central air system throughout the hotel. That alone, Mr. Cole said, can save a hotel owner a few million dollars.

There’s no commonality – other than Hilton HHonors – that makes a hotel a Doubletree, that tells a hotel guest what to expect. That’s why Doubletree gives out the cookies.

Discussing cookies at check-in was a memorable part of the movie Up in the Air.

Of course Marriott has its Autograph Collection for higher-end conversions, in addition to Delta hotels that will compete to manage hotels from other brands without the requirement to spend a lot of money to become a Marriott.

Delta owners will be allowed to keep stucco ceilings (also known as cottage cheese ceilings), bathtub showers and in-wall air-conditioning systems. Marriott hotels must have mostly stand-alone showers, and won’t allow the ceilings or older air-conditioning systems.

Overall, Mr. Silverman estimates, hotel owners would pay up to 50% less to convert a hotel to a Delta compared with upgrading the property to the Marriott brand.

Like Autograph Collection, Starwood has its new Tribute Portfolio — no brand standards, the hotels are unique (though upper end, however not as high-end as their Luxury Collection hotels). We can expect to see at least one more, or perhaps more, “un-brands” from a major chain where it’s the loyalty program that holds things together.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

More articles by Gary Leff »


  1. I’ve never been a huge fan of DoubleTree because of the variability. The cookie doesn’t really factor in for me. And God knows my gut doesn’t need another cookie!

  2. @ Stvr — Yeah, Crowne Plaza has lots of crappy hotels. Therefore, I tend to avoid what should be a nice brand.

  3. Yeah there two distinct sub-categories here. One is the higher end boutique “un-chain” competing for customers looking for unique experiences and the other is the lower end “catch all” for properties that can’t make it into the mid-scale flagship corporate brand, such as Westin, Hilton, Marriott etc. I think of 4 seasons, Doubletree, Crowne Plaza as occupying this space. I don’t think Marriott has properties occupying this market space, they are definitely the most consistent.

  4. I have seen some really crappy third tier hotels converted to DoubleTree’s some that were in construction defect litigation all of sudden simply painted and reflagged to Double Tree. Some were the old Phoenix Inn’s if that tells you anything.
    For me I will not stay at a reflag unless I know the building. Once I walked into a reflag ( Brand withheld) I picked up that “Old smell” but was really tired so I took the room, within five minutes I was downstairs checking out.

    Just saying

  5. @Stvr lots of terrible properties within a variety of brand portfolios (including Crowne Plaza) but the focus here is ‘conversion brands’ which may have loose standards.

  6. @gary Understood. I had just assumed Crowne Plaza WAS a conversion brand. Are there new build Crowne Plazas? Are there NO new build Doubletrees?

    @Nick think you mean four POINTS not seasons

  7. Practical post ! I was enlightened by the information – Does someone know if my business might be able to grab a blank CA SAR 7 copy to use ?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *