In downtown Los Angeles, the latest hotel trend is visible near the L.A. Live entertainment complex.
On one side of West Olympic Boulevard stands the JW Marriott/Ritz Carlton hotel. On the other side looms the Courtyard/Residence Inn hotel.
Over the last few years, major hotel companies have learned that combining two hotel brands into the same building saves on operating costs and staffing, while giving guests a choice between hotels with different nightly rates and amenities.
"Five or 10 years ago we never even heard of it," said Alan X. Reay, a hotel consultant with Atlas Hospitality. "Now we are seeing more and more of it."
A Residence Inn/SpringHill Suites combination opened in San Diego in February. Hotel giant Marriott International is planning to build five other dual-branded hotels in Los Angeles, Thousand Oaks and Santa Clarita in the next four years.
"The pace of the growth is by virtue of the fact that this trend offers lots of benefits to developers and consumers," said Tony Capuano, executive vice president and chief development officer at Marriott International.
Most of these hotels combine brands held by the same hotel company, such as Marriott, which owns 19 brands. But in Chicago, a developer opened a hotel in 2013 with three brands owned by competing hotel companies, Aloft, Fairfield Inn & Suites and Hyatt.
One drawback of mingling hotel brands is that it can be confusing for guests who book a hotel room and then walk into the wrong lobby or try to enjoy a free breakfast and find that it is offered only to guests of the other hotel brand.
"I think the brands understand their differences better than the customers do," said Carl Winston, director of the hospitality and tourism management school at San Diego State University.
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