Marriott, AC Hotels in co-branding joint venture

MADRID AC Hotels and Marriott International Inc. have agreed to form a joint venture to manage and franchise co-branded hotels across Europe and Latin America under the moniker AC by Marriott.

The two companies anticipate formalizing the joint venture before the end of the year, the new AC by Marriott brand expected to launch in 2011.

More than 90 existing AC hotels in Spain, Italy and Portugal are expected to be rebranded as AC by Marriott and will enter into long-term management or franchise agreements with the joint venture. The hotels will continue to be owned by affiliates of AC Hotels and other third parties.

AC by Marriott will incorporate the concept and business model of AC Hotels’ urban-style 4-star hotel product with Marriott’s global systems, distribution and sales platforms, including the Marriott Rewards loyalty program. The partnership provides Marriott Rewards members access to a portfolio of Spain’s leading business and urban-leisure hotels, providing both companies with a platform for future growth.

Future hotels would be added to the portfolio under both management contracts and franchise agreements. The joint venture will be led by AC Hotels founder Antonio Catalán and his team, with support on key functions from Marriott’s team in Europe, headed by regional President Amy McPherson.

AC Hotels is the 11th largest hotel company based in Spain and the world’s 126th largest hotel company overall, according to HOTELS’ 325, the annual ranking of the world’s hotel companies that is published in this month’s issue. Marriott ranks third on the global list.