Marriott has three Edition contracts

NEW YORK Thu May 26, 2011 7:13am EDT

Arne Sorenson, President and COO of Marriott International, speaks during the Reuters 2011 Global Fashion and Luxury Summit in New York, May 24, 2011. REUTERS/Mike Segar

Arne Sorenson, President and COO of Marriott International, speaks during the Reuters 2011 Global Fashion and Luxury Summit in New York, May 24, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Mike Segar

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The boutique-style brand that Marriott International MAR.N is building with famed hotelier Ian Schrager has contracts to open in Bangkok, Mexico City and Barcelona, an executive said.

There's no guarantee yet that those three planned Edition-brand properties will open, Chief Operating Officer Arne Sorenson told the Reuters Global Luxury and Fashion Summit in New York on Tuesday.

Nearly every top hotel company from Starwood Hotels & Resorts (HOT.N) to Hyatt Hotels Corp (H.N) has unveiled or expanded boutique concepts in an attempt to attract the affluent, trend-setting guest who scorns cookie-cutter hotel chains.

Marriott has both teamed up with Schrager, who is widely credited with inventing the boutique hotel and last year announced "Autograph:" a collection of independently owned hotels that retain their own management but join Marriott's rewards and reservations programs.

Autograph, which currently has 15 properties, is about to add four in Spain and is in discussions with independent hotel owners in Europe to add more.

Marriott and Schrager, who is widely credited with inventing the concept of the boutique hotel, had said they would build and operate up to 100 hotels when they announced the creation of Edition in 2007.

Two -- in Hawaii and Istanbul -- have opened so far; the recession has slowed the brand's expansion.

Then in March, boutique hotel company Morgans Hotel Group Co (MHGC.O) poached two of Edition's top executives, Dan Flannery, who had run the brand, and Yoav Gery, who had headed development for it.

The company replaced Flannery with Tim Miller last week and will add another developer in the next couple of weeks, Sorenson said.

In addition to the three Edition projects under contract, Marriott is also in "advanced discussions" on another three, although those have not yet reached the contract stage, Sorenson said.

"It will obviously take us longer than when we announced this, but I still think this is the kind of brand that could easily have a hundred hotels," Sorenson said.

(Editing by Phil Berlowitz, Gary Hill)