Friday Briefing: Marriott, Starwood Merger Closes, Carnival Corp.’s New China Ship

marriott and starwood hotels

Happy Friday! Celebrate the end of the workweek (along with Marriott and Starwood) with our roundup of the top travel headlines you should be following today. 

Marriott and Starwood Make it Official

It’s finally over: Marriott International has completed its acquisition of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc., creating the world’s largest hotel company. 

It’s been a wild ride — from a last-minute bid by Chinese investment firm Anbang to a delay in the antitrust approval process by Chinese authorities, the deal has seen its fair share of twists and turns since it was announced back in November 2015. The newly combined company will operate more than 5,700 properties and 1.1 million rooms, representing 30 brands from midscale to luxury in over 110 countries. Also good to know: starting today, it will match member status across Marriott Rewards (including The Ritz-Carlton Rewards) and Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG), allowing members to transfer points between the programs for travel and exclusive experiences when they link their accounts. 

What’s next? According to an interview with Marriott CEO Arne Sorenson at PCMA/Convening Leaders in Vancouver earlier this year, plans call for the combined company to keep all of its luxury brands. That includes Ritz-Carlton, Bulgari, Edition, Autograph on the Marriott side, and St. Regis, The Luxury Collection and W Hotels on the Starwood side. It remains to be seen what else will happen next. 

china cruise event

Carnival Corp. Orders Two New Cruise Ships for China

In cruise news, today Carnival Corp. is stepping up its investment in the red-hot China cruise market with the announcement that its joint venture in the country has signed a nonbinding memorandum of agreement for the industry’s first new cruise ships built in China for the Chinese market. 

Carnival Corp. has agreed to order two new cruise ships to be built by a newly formed China-based shipbuilding joint venture between China's largest shipbuilder, China State Shipbuilding Corporation (CSSC), and Italy-based Fincantieri S.p.A. There is also an option to order two more ships. 

The joint venture will operate the new ships, which will be based on the Vista-class design, as part of its plans to launch a multi-ship domestic cruise brand in China. The first of the new ships is slated for delivery in 2022. 

Senate Files Continuing Resolution to Fund TSA

In air travel news, the Senate has filed a continuing resolution to fund the government through December 9, avoiding an October 1 government shutdown. The Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) is applauding the resolution’s language including funding for the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), which will allow the TSA to continue to fund increased personnel that were needed to address this summer’s long airport security lines. 

“If this bill doesn’t pass those additional screeners will go home on October 1, and long lines will return,” the GBTA said in a post on its The Business of Travel blog. 

The GBTA also called on Congress to initiate the long-term reforms necessary to ensure the safety of airports in the United States

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