Let me start by saying that this has absolutely nothing to do with the Marriott takeover of Starwood. 😉
I spend a fair amount of time in San Diego, and my “go to” hotel there is usually the W San Diego. It’s by no means an amazing hotel, but it’s reasonably nice, rates tend to be excellent, and elite recognition is quite good (for example, they give Platinum members a “proper” restaurant breakfast, rather than the skimpy “continental” breakfast many other hotels offer).
While looking at the hotel’s website yesterday I noticed an announcement indicating that the W San Diego will be leaving Starwood as of December 15, 2015:
The W San Diego will be leaving the Starwood system on December 15, 2015. Reservations for dates on or after December 15, 2015, will not be eligible for Starwood Preferred Guest membership benefits, award redemption or accrual.
It hasn’t yet been revealed what the hotel will be converted into later this year.
On one hand I’ve always assumed this hotel was struggling. Rates were quite low, the hotel rarely seemed to be at capacity, and I was usually just about the only person in the restaurant. While other W Hotels seem to draw a local crowd to the bar and restaurant, this one didn’t seem to.
Perhaps part of the problem is that the area immediately surrounding the W isn’t really “happening,” and I’m guessing they had higher hopes for the neighborhood when it first opened.
It’s not unusual to see hotels either leaving or joining major chains. Sometimes a chain just isn’t a very good “fit” for a particular property, and sometimes I think the owners of hotels are looking for a scapegoat when they’re not doing well, and the easiest party to blame is the one managing the hotel (keep in mind that for the most part the major hotel chains just have management contracts for the properties, which are independently owned by investors).
But the biggest question is how do you convert a W Hotel into something else? W as a brand has a unique style, but between various W properties it’s rather cookie cutter.
When the InterContinental Westminster converted into a Conrad, there wasn’t all that much work required to rebrand. With the SLS Las Vegas joining Starwood’s Tribute Collection, virtually no work is required.
But for a brand like W, which has a very clear identity, I’m very curious to see how the transition will happen. The way I see it, there are three possible outcomes:
- The hotel will be converted into an independent brand and will keep similar decor, which I can’t imagine will improve their bottom line
- The hotel will be converted into another major brand and will be refreshed slightly, which I still can’t imagine will improve their bottom line
- They’re planning on closing the hotel at some point and using the building for something else, like condos
Perhaps this is just a reflection of what a crappy hotel market San Diego is on the whole. There are virtually no luxury hotels, and aside from the convention hotels, most other properties seem to be struggling.
I’m sad to see this property leave Starwood. I had always suspected the hotel wasn’t doing especially well, which is more or less confirmed with this announcement. Now we’ll just have to wait and see what they do with the hotel.
Have you stayed at the W San Diego, and if so, are you sad to see it leave the Starwood brand?