If you haven't heard by now, the merger between Starwood and Marriott has been completed. After a contentious bidding war between Marriott and Chinese insurance firm Anbang, Marriott won out paying a huge premium--$12.2 billion-- for the uber-popular hotel chain.
Let's jog through the details and why this matters.
Why It Happened
Marriott initially submitted an offer back in November of 2015 to the dismay of SPG loyalists. A Chinese insurance firm, Anbang, launched a counter offer shortly after. After a few more counters, Anbang eventually won out. The only problem came when authorities actually asked Anbang if they can pay it. Then Anbang backed out. It was super weird. It's never a good sign when a company drops out right after they're asked to actually pay for it. So, Marriott "won" the bidding.
What Marriott Gets
Starwood has long been the crown jewel of the travel world thanks to their diverse portfolio, valuable mileage currency, and rewarding loyalty program. Starwood's unique brands include ALOFT, Sheraton, Westin, W Hotels and the St. Regis luxury brand. This group of brands are incredibly difficult to beat as they offer the lower priced properties to rack up points and then the higher end properties to cash in for incredible stays.
Marriott acquires an intensely loyal group of frequent travelers, as SPG members are generally road warriors. You can see how much other chains value SPG members by how aggressively they offered status matches right after the announcement, which helped me get Hilton Diamond and Hyatt Platinum status!
What It Means for Marriott Members
If you have status with Marriott or Ritz-Carlton (through the new Chase Ritz Visa Infinite) go to this website immediately to link your accounts and get your status upgrade across the new brands! I got instantly upgraded from Ritz-Carlton Gold to SPG Gold. This is a massive benefit!
SPG's loyalty program is extremely generous. If you have Gold or Platinum with SPG you'll get upgrades depending on your status to a "preferred" room for Gold and the "best available" room including suites for Platinum members.
If you normally stay at Marriott properties, start staying at SPG properties ASAP!
What It Means for SPG Members
This isn't a great thing for SPG loyalists, but you will get access to a wider range of properties that you now have status at when you stay. You can match your status to Marriott and Ritz, which now will give you status at both St. Regis and Ritz-Carlton, two of the best luxury brands in the world.
What It Means for the Points
The million dollar question. It appears points will transfer at a rate of 1 Starpoint to 3 Marriott points. What's not confirmed is how long Starpoints will be their own currency. Right now, you get 5,000 extra points when you transfer 20,000 SPG points. Stay tuned for that.
You can now book Marriott/Ritz rewards with your Starpoints since you can transfer them over to Marriott.
What You Should Do
If you have status with Marriott or Ritz-Carlton, go link your statuses immediately and start staying at SPG properties. Take advantage while you can! This is a huge opportunity right now.