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Wednesday, August 31, 2016

CIRCLE PACIFIC ADVENTURE 2016: Day #22 --The End of Starwood

In my early days of travel, I used Hyatts and Hiltons more than Sheratons, with a few Marriotts.  For the past decade I've stuck with Starwood, which now oversees Sheraton, St. Regis, The Luxury Collection, W, Westin, Le Meridien, Tribute Portfolio, Four Points, Aloft, Element and Design Hotels.  There are 1,300 properties in 100 countries.  Why, because for a number of years I've been a Platinum member, and the benefits define where I stay.

Well, the stockholders of both companies this past spring approved the takeover of Starwood by Marriott, which has 4,400 properties in 87 countries.  As is the tradition with these buyouts, the members of the seized company generally suffer.  I've been waiting to see how bad it would become, but now have a sense that the process will take into 2017, if not 2018.  The $12 billion to $14 billion purchase price (keeps getting adjusted) will make Marriott the largest hotel chain in the world, with more than a million rooms.  

Competition is certainly shifting with the new online peer-to-peer Airbnb  (for Air Bed and Breakfast) service making giant strides, already with 1.5 listings in 34,000 cities and 191 countries.  Now, you can also gain access to castles, boats and private islands.

In the meantime, part of the reason for this trip, in addition to finalizing research for three of my upcoming books, and accruing more than 100,000 Star Alliance miles, was to enjoy my Platinum status one last time, and coincidentally build up enough stays to remain at this level for  another year.  I've largely been placed in suites during this adventure, and the breakfasts have been spectacular...but only in the Orient.  Here is one I had at the Westin Bangkok:


Note that the green juice is guava and the red, watermelon.  This buffet featured Thai, Chinese, Japanese, Indian and Singaporean dishes.  Westins are mixed in amenities, with the San Francisco Airport property providing nothing.  I wonder what the Westin St Francis will have on one of my final stays before returning home to Honolulu.
Incredibly enough, Starwood has 14 hotels just in Dubai, with 14 more close to completion!  It can get confusing, because there are four separate Sheratons and four distinct Meridiens.  Good luck when the seven Alofts all open in 2018.

Meanwhile, Marriott has 19 different brands, including: Ritz-Carlton, BVLGARI, Edition, JW Marriott, Autograph Collection, Renaissance, Marriott, Delta, Marriott Executive Apartments, Marriott Vacation Club, Gaylord, AC, Courthouse, Residence Inn, Springhill Suites, Fairfield Inn & Suites, TownePlace Suites, Protea and Moxy.   Well, the Ritz-Carlton in Tokyo is now my most favorite hotel anyway, but only on the Club Level.  Thus a shifting to Marriott won't be all that much of an inconvenience.  In any case, my traveling days are coming to a close.



But, whoopee, in my final 4 Points Sheraton on this trip at the SFO Airport, I got room that had a large jacuzzi:


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Hurricanes Madeline at 75 MPH and Lester at 135 MPH are still headed for Hawaii.  My worry is that I land in Honolulu from San Francisco on Friday.  By then Madeline should be reasonably south and about as far west as Kauai:



However, if Lester just shifts a tad south, he will make landfall over Oahu on Saturday:


One computer model shows this:


Look how far Lester is yet from Hawaii:


Anything can yet happen.

There are now eight ocean storms:


The Atlantic storms are all not of concern to the USA.

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