trueicon wrote:Fair points about Starwood. By my math, however, the only full service (i.e., offers convention space etc.) Marriott-Starwood hotels within the CBD are Westin and Sheraton. The others are mostly boutique hotels that aren't really oriented towards the convention market. Compare that to the CBD of any other similar major city in the U.S., from Houston to Atlanta to Los Angeles (I'm not even talking well developed downtown cities like Chicago and NYC), and you'll see that number is very small.
I stand by my point that a business oriented full service Marriott makes far more sense in the CBD, where there are so many surface parking lots waiting to be developed. I could name off at least 20 spots downtown that make far more sense for this hotel. The big convention groups (e.g., Mary Kay, etc.) are not going to bus convention goers to/from Kay Bailey Convention Center to this hotel.
Hi- Regular business traveler here - the hotel flag/branding or level of service is about priority six or seven when booking a hotel. No one says "oh, well the AC hotel is for young, hip, socialites, and the Springhill is for families who want extra space and free breakfast for the kids, so I guess I have to book a full-service Marriott because I'm a business traveler"- hotels are going to fill their rooms with whoever's willing to pay the current rate.
Anymore, companies are just as sensitive about expenses as leisure travelers, and rank-and-file workers are pretty strictly held to policy. If the expense policy caps hotels at say $200/night, that often eliminates a lot of the full-service brands in city center areas. If a traveler cares about their Marriott rewards points, it's a choice between driving out a ways to get a "real" Marriott that's under the cap, or staying at a Courtyard or Springhill downtown and still getting Marriott points, perks, etc.
Of course there's always going to be the Convention business that goes to the large-scale, full-service CBD hotels, but a 255 key Marriott isn't big enough to matter when you've got the Omni, Hyatt, and Sheraton all offering 1000+ rooms. Plus, there's a not-insignificant amount of business activity in Uptown, and until recently, all of the hotel offerings in Uptown save the Hyatt House were very much in the luxury/boutique category. I think my boss would have a heart attack if I submitted an expense report with 3 nights at the Ritz or ZaZa. There's definitely a need for a mainstream hotel in Uptown.