The Autograph Collection—a group of upscale and luxury properties with distinctive personalities within the Marriott global portfolio—launched in January 2010. It has grown to 14 properties in the last year with more expected to become a part of the group. The hotels stand out as individual independent properties, “…each carefully selected for its distinctiveness, style and synchronicity with travelers’ unique interests,” according to the company.
“The Autograph Collection is not what we consider a brand,” says Kip Vreeland, v.p. of Autograph Collection. “Each hotel is almost like its own individual brand. This in and of itself makes it stand out among our family of Marriott lodging brands. The Autograph Collection promises the same quality as our other full-service brands, but with a different guest experience, defined by the individual hotel.”
The properties are grouped into five categories. Boutique Arts are defined as “The Place to Stay for Art Lovers and Lovers of Life,” where guests will find original portraits and murals amongst its features. Boutique Arts properties include The El Monte Sagrado in Taos, NM. Iconic Historic properties are “Where Old is What’s New, Beautiful & Distinctive,” city properties that marry luxury with a distinctive past. These include The Algonquin Hotel in New York, NY. “Where Stylish Innovation Meets Bold Imagination” is how the Autograph Collection defines Boutique Chic, which features innovation, intimacy and a distinctive vibe, with properties that include The Henry in Detroit, MI. The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, meanwhile, is the single property currently within the Luxury Redefined category, billed as, “This is What it Means to Really Live.” The latest category to emerge is Retreat, defined as, “When You’ve Gone As Far As You Can Go. Retreat,” and the single hotel under that classification is the Kessler Canyon western Colorado adventure preserve.
“[The categories] help us to communicate the intended guest experience to the traveler,” says Vreeland. “We want our guests to know what to expect when they choose to stay at one of the hotels in the Collection.”
Vreeland defines the appropriate guest for the Autograph Collection as, “A traveler who is looking for a unique travel experience within the independent hotel space, specifically in the upper-upscale and luxury tiers. They typically ‘shun’ brands,” he adds, “and want to try something new with every travel experience. They appreciate the unpredictable, and want to be surprised by what they see, hear, taste, smell and touch. They are explorers, collectors of unique travel experiences, great storytellers of where they’ve been, and what they’ve seen. They are clearly someone with an adventurous spirit, who is not necessarily looking for a chain or branded experience.”
The Autograph Collection launched with only seven properties and has doubled that amount in the last year. The first seven properties to join the group were from The Kessler Collection, with the Kessler Canyon joining this month and another one being added by late-summer. “The obvious standout features [of The Kessler Collection properties] are what defines the Autograph Collection,” says Richard Kessler, president, CEO and COO of The Kessler Collection. “The Kessler Collection properties are iconic, high-personality boutique hotels, with distinctive traits and luxurious accommodations.”
Kessler adds that the relationship with Marriott has been beneficial to his company. “Being an entrepreneurial independent hotel owner and operator, the Marriott relationship with Autograph Collection has enabled us to take our unique properties to a very broad market, garnering additional exposure to new guests,” says Kessler. “While we treasure our independence as a collection, we’re thrilled to enjoy the benefits of our relationship with Marriott and the opportunities to heighten our guest experiences.”
The 14 current properties and the two new ones to be added to the Autograph Collection, are located in the U.S., but the company does have plans to grow the Collection internationally.
“While we wouldn’t commit to a firm number of hotels being in the Collection at any one point in time, our track record over the past 12 months can give you a sense of the response by the hotel community,” says Vreeland. “The Collection will be expanding globally as active discussions are happening in Europe, Asia, Canada, South America and the Caribbean at this time. The future looks bright!”
The Autograph Collection hotels participate in the Marriott Rewards guest loyalty program, where guests can earn points at more than 3,200 hotels in 68 countries. “The response to these hotels joining our portfolio has been overwhelmingly positive from our loyalMarriott Rewards customers, telling us it was the right thing to do.”