Huge hotel mash-up in the works?

The new (ish) InterContinental New York Times Square is one of my favorites (Photo: Chris McGinnis)

The new (ish) InterContinental New York Times Square is one of my favorites (Photo: Chris McGinnis)

News broke today (Monday May 26) that the UK-based InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) is the target of a takeover by a US hotel company, which many believe to be Starwood Hotels & Resorts. IHG has reportedly rejected the $10 billion offer. (Memorial Day in the US and a bank holiday in the UK mean news is scant on this one.)

IHG brands include Holiday Inn, Indigo, Crowne Plaza, InterContinental and Staybridge Suites, among others.

Despite the rejection, Starwood could come back with a sweeter offer. Britain’s newspaper The Guardian speculated “InterContinental’s attraction to an American business would be to help it save billions by moving its tax domicile to Britain.”

This would be an interesting combination for frequent travelers. IHG’s Rewards Club is the largest hotel loyalty program in the world. Starwood’s Preferred Guest program is undeniably one of the most popular. A mash up of the two programs would expand earning and burning opportunities like crazy.

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My first reaction is to try and figure out which IHG brands or hotel would align best with current Starwood brands. Here are a few thoughts. I’d love to hear yours!

First off, Starwood is likely after IHG for its prize: The Holiday Inn and Holiday Inn Express brands. Starwood has always lacked a strong midscale product (4 Points just doesn’t cut it) and this would round out its brand portfolio nicely.

If Starwood gets IHG, I bet it would keep the well-known Holiday Inn Brand, but likely fold IHG’s other brands into existing Starwood brands.

Starwood's new (and very popular) Aloft brand now at SFO (Photo: Chris McGinnis)

I’m a big fan of IHG’s hip Indigo Brand, and could see most of those new hotels easily folded into Starwood’s trendy W or Aloft brands.

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IHG’s InterContinental brand would probably split up, with its nice grand dames mixing nicely with Starwood’s Luxury Collection, Le Meridien or maybe even St Regis (although many would need significant upgrades.) For example, I could see the InterContinental Mark Hopkins in SF or the Barclay in NYC in that category. The larger, more modern convention-style InterContinentals (like the InterContinental Times Square, or the one by Moscone Center in SF) would likely become Westins or Sheratons.

Speaking of Sheratons, I could seen nearly all of InterConti’s Crowne Plaza hotels (primarily focused on meetings and, at least in my experience, hosting flight crews) fitting into the Starwood portfolio best as Sheratons.

IHG’s Staybridge Suites and Candlewood Suites would likely become Element hotels, Starwood’s new extended stay product.

How do you think Starwood and IHG would mash up? Does the combination of these two giant brands excite or scare you? Please leave your comments below!

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–Chris McGinnis

Link to Guardian story here

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  • Steve Smith

    No clear winner unfortunately in the choice of hotel loyalty programs. I have moved SPG to third after Marriott and Hilton. Not enough SPG hotels and unlike Marriott, SPG Gold does not give you guaranteed lounge access. I only use SPG if lounge upgrade at booking not too bad, since there is no guarantee with an SPG property that you will get upgraded with only SPG Gold. As a road warrior, lounges have become my main priority. With Marriott Gold and Hilton Diamond, can always get lounge access and breakfast on the road without getting ripped. But the SPG AmEX card is the best card because it gives you a bonus when you convert to airline miles and the redemption is more reasonable especially in Europe. On the other hand, Marriott and Hilton redemption is a bit of a joke. Not worth getting points on hotel branded credit cards except SPG or trying to get hotel points since redemption so bad. Still trying to figure this out.

  • RobRob

    Funny…I’m reading this while staying in an Indigo. It’s my first time in one, being a pretty loyal SPG guy but starting to like IHG. I like it a lot, but wok up thinking I was at Aloft. Sooo similar, they might as well be one. Since most of my travel is divided among SPG, Marriott and IHG (with points accumulation in that order) this would be great for my earning & burning!

  • Name

    Hmmmmmmmm, change is scary; I’m ICH Platinum but I know nothing about Starwood. I’ve never been in a CrownePlaza or InterContinental that wasn’t wonderful. Three things rear up in my mind: don’t touch the value of my points, keep the cash/points option (Hilton is quite lame at this concept) and allow me to know what my favorite hotels are now named so I can continue enjoying them.

  • John

    This didn’t start with the current administration. It’s been many many years since US corporations started moving factories and head offices to other countries. Companies will always go where the labor is cheapest and/or where taxes are lowest. Not much chance of that stopping when we want higher wages and more for our tax dollar.

  • sipbkk

    This isn’t a tax dodge, it’s perfectly legal for a company to move their HQ to a more tax friendly domicile. Unfortunately, these are the consequences of a host country having the highest corporate tax rate in the world. In a globalized world, U.S. corporations are increasingly at a
    competitive disadvantage. They face the highest statutory
    corporate income tax rate in the world at 39.1 percent. – Just another great idea from your current administration.

  • Alan Billingsley

    I disagree about Inter-Continental being folded in as a brand. It is a truly iconic brand, recognized internationally better than in the US. Since Pan Am started it in the 1940s in Latin America, it has always positioned itself as keeping some local culture in its design and hotel branding. I think this positioned them well against Hilton who purposefully tried to bring a little bit of America to US business travelers abroad. I cannot imagine the brand going away, although I agree that its products are quite varied, running from Westin, through Luxury Collection in market position.

  • Jim Anderson

    I’ve been IHG Platinum 13 years running. Getting status with IHG is more reasonable and the rewards seemingly (yes, seemingly) have move value to me than anyone else. I like SPG. It would classify them my second choice. I’m cool to this for now… but could find myself very warn to the idea, but who cares what I think… lol

  • Nick Boylan

    The Candlewood brand would stay, as it is really nowhere near Element in terms of placing. Staybridge might convert, but they might keep it just because of some of the special branding elements of Element. I would be more likely to see them merging Staybridge and Element how Hyatt merged their extended stay brands (Hyatt House)

  • Deltasegmentflyer

    I like it. My biggest issue with the SPG program is there is no good midscale hotel. After giving them a try the past year it just has not worked for me. This would like get me back in the fold. I like it.

  • Sean

    Don’t touch my point break list is all I’m saying

  • Bill n DC

    WOW! don’t like the idea this is for dodging taxes at all! :-( otherwise more opps for earning SPG Points :-)