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Starwood unveils first Luxury Collection ad campaign in three years

September 20, 2011

A print ad for the Luxury Collection


Starwood Hotels & Resorts is initiating the first new branding campaign in three years for its Luxury Collection hotels that will mainly run in print publications and travel Web sites.

The new print campaign will encompass the brand's theme of discovering unique experiences for its guests. The advertisements showcase what a travel experience looks like for a Luxury Collection guest through various photographs in an affluent consumer's home. 

“The motivation of the campaign was the evolution of the story of the Luxury Collection and bringing the surface of that into a print advertising campaign,” said Paul James, global brand leader of the Luxury Collection and St. Regis Hotels & Resorts, New York.

“The Luxury Collection has been around for 15 years and, up until about four years ago, the primary focus was a story around the amazing hotels and the advertising reflected the properties,” he said.

“When we looked at luxury hotels, we realized it was mostly about the luxury experiences and the customers were talking about the things they experienced at the hotels.”

The global print campaign cost approximately $400,000, per the company. Another $300,000 was spent on the North American-only online campaign.

The Luxury Collection comprises more than 75 hotels in 30 different countries and along with the St. Regis and Le Meridien hotels is owned by Starwood Hotels & Resorts.

In the frame

The new ad campaign looks to expand the reach of the Luxury Collection’s slogan, “Life is a collection of experiences. Let us be your guide.”

The brand worked with photographer David Prince and prop stylist Jocelyn Beaudoin to capture scenes that encompass this phrase and the idea of discovering unique experiences.

The concept behind the campaign was to let the viewer discover what it meant to be a Luxury Collection guest, according to the brand.

The ad campaign brings the viewers into the home of a traveler and showcases the person’s vacation memories  through various framed photos in the house.

A old-world European image from the new print campaign

The goal is to inspire consumers to think about and book their own vacations, per the Luxury Collection.

The featured photos are from various Luxury Collection hotels, including the Hotel Danieli in Venice, Italy; Blue Palace Resort and Spa in Elounda; Turnberry Resort in Scotland; Al Maha Desert Resort and Spa in Dubai; the Astor Hotel in China; Tambo del Inka Resort and Spa in Peru; and the Chatwal New York, New York.

The photos are framed in old-world, ornate gilded frames to represent the opulence of the hotels or in modern shapes to represent the contemporary design of other Luxury Collection hotels.

“I think its unique in that it is a departure from a lot of hotel ads in that it is not just a picture of a hotel or a couple on the beach,” Mr. James said. “It carries this appeal [and] the goal of the  Luxury Collection is to inspire people to want to experience luxury travel experiences.

“So, this sense of the collection comes alive, but also the personality of the people who like to go and explore these things,” he said.

The modern image from the new Luxury Collection campaign

Luxury of print

The photos will run in traditional print ads in Condé Nast Traveler, ForbesLife, Luxury Travel Advisor, Financial Times and Bentley Magazine.

They will also appear on and the Five Star Alliance network of travel sites.

The Five Star Alliance is an online travel agency for luxury hotels around the world including the Auberge du Soleil in California, the Savoy in London and various St. Regis properties.

“It’s a good time to go into the market in terms of print in press because this is the time many people are starting to contemplate where their travel will be for the holidays and in the upcoming year,” Mr. James said.

“The luxury collection is largely personal travel,” he said. “Families and friends [who are] going to a destination for an experience.”

The new ad campaign follows another recent rebranding effort by the Ritz-Carlton, which intrigues guests with the new slogan, “Let us stay with you,” which also incorporates print ads (see story).

“I think we all evolve in all brands and in all experiences, and people like to be reminded of that,” Mr. James said. “Simply, we have to refresh our pictures because of the way people expect brands to communicate with them.

“So what we’ve wanted to do is anchor that change in the language of the campaign with this tradition of great service and hotel experiences,” he said.

Starwood has always been at the forefront in digital (see story) which makes this mostly print advertising campaign intriguing and will likely catch the affluent traveler’s attention.

All hotels need to refresh their advertising campaigns to continue to catch consumers’ eyes.

However, this may be even more important for luxury hotels whose affluent guests are travelling more than the average consumer.

In addition, after the slowdown in travel due to the current economy, luxury hotels are marketing themselves more than ever to entice people to travel to their destinations.

“Rebranding is going on because the travel industry has been so beat-up in the last couple of years,” said Lisa Holt, marketing director of DLS Hotels, Napa, CA.

“The travel industry has taken a beating, and the demographic is changing to a more sophisticated, broader, what we call a free, independent traveler,” she said. “What happens there is that as the consumer gets more educated about their options, they make more sophisticated choices.

“There is lot of movement within branding and movement to reposition properties because people are trying to be strategic about regaining market segment.”

Final Take
Kayla Hutzler, editorial assistant on Luxury Daily, New York