Starwood Picks Peyton to Lead Global Brands in Leadership Changes

Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide is shaking up the leadership across its global brand organization and has tapped a veteran executive to lead the effort.
John Peyton, Starwood

John Peyton, Starwood

One week after announcing it was exploring strategic alternatives, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc., is shaking up the leadership across its global brand organization and has tapped veteran executive John Peyton to lead the effort.

Saying its 10 distinct brands are “the heart and soul of Starwood,” CEO Adam Aron announced the leadership changes as he promoted Peyton to the new role of senior vice president, brands and shared services.

“Starwood’s reputation for brand innovation is legendary and a key reason we have been able to drive growth,” Aron said in a news release. “We are investing in our global brand organization to further invigorate innovation, marketing and guest experience across all of our more than 1,200 Starwood hotels around the world.”

Peyton, who has held several senior operations and marketing positions in his 15 years with Stamford, Conn.-based Starwood, most recently led the company’s Global Initiatives team. In his new role, he will also oversee food and beverage, revenue management and Starwood’s integration strategy for Design Hotels, a Berlin-based selection of more than 270 hotels that Starwood has an ownership stake in. He will report directly to Aron.

“Starwood is a dynamic organization, and we didn’t have to look far to find great leaders within our ranks to take on new brand leadership roles,” Peyton said in the release. “I look forward to working with our new Global Brand Leaders as we sharpen the focus on Starwood’s unique and desired brands.”

“It’s clear that Adam Aron is trying to shake things up and reinvigorate the team,” Lukas Hartwich, a senior analyst at Green Street Advisors, told Commercial Property Executive.

Aron was named interim CEO in February when former CEO Fritz van Passachen resigned. A Starwood director for nearly a decade, Aron is also a former CEO of Vail Resorts and Norwegian Cruise line.

“Aron hit the ground running,” Hartwich added. “He is trying to get things back on the offensive.”

Hartwich said Starwood is lagging behind its competitors, Marriott and Hilton, in unit growth and room rate growth, particularly in the United States. More than 40 percent of the room count for Starwood is outside North America, he noted.

While Sheraton is viewed as a top quality brand in Asia, in North America “the perception is the brand is a bit tired. That’s a problem,” Hartwich told CPE. “They need to take some of the reputation outside the U.S. and reinvigorate and elevate the brand here in the U.S.”

Starwood’s other brands are St. Regis, The Luxury Collection, W, Westin, Le Meridien, Four Points by Sheraton, Aloft, Element and the Tribute Portfolio. The company launched Tribute Portfolio, its 10th brand and second collection of independent  hotels, last month. Tribute Portfolio, which opened with the Royal Palm South Beach Miami hotel, is focused on four-star, upper upscale hotels.

When Starwood officials announced last week it had hired Lazard to advise them on a potential sale or other alternatives, Chairman Bruce Duncan said during a conference call with industry analysts, “No option is off the table.”

Analysts have said a sale of the company is a definite possibility, although Hartwich said both Marriott and Hilton talked down their interest in buying it.

“Both Marriott and Hilton would love to own the Starwood brands. The question is at what price,” Hartwich noted.

The new Global Brand Leaders named this week included Dave Marr, who will be in charge of the Sheraton and Tribute Portfolio brands. Marr, a longtime executive, oversaw the launch of Tribute Portfolio, which is slated to open 100 hotels within five years.

Jim Petrus, a former senior vice president, operations, is returning to Starwood to be Global Brand Leader, St. Regis, which is set to surpass 40 hotels this year with openings in Mumbai, Dubai and Kuala Lumpur.

Hoyt Harper, who most recently led Sheraton, is now Global Brand Leader, The Luxury Collection, which will reach 100 hotels in 2015.

Anthony Ingham has been named Global Brand Leader, W Hotels Worldwide and will help expand the brand into new markets like Amsterdam, Shanghai, Tel Aviv and Dubai.

Brian Povinelli will continue as Global Brand Leader, Westin and Le Meridien. Westin recently opened its 200th hotel and Le Meridien will open more hotels this year than any other year since Starwood acquired the brand.

Also continuing in his position is Brian McGuinness, who is Global Brand Leader, Specialty Select Brands, including Aloft, Element and Four Points. The fast-growing portfolio has almost 40 percent of Starwood’s pipeline and nearly half if its expected earnings for 2015.

All the Global Brand Leaders will report directly to Peyton.