Starwood Capital's Sternlicht invests in HotelTonight

Starwood Capital Group has launched several high-profile boutique hotel brands

Financial trends and news by Faith Merino
January 30, 2014
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HotelTonight’s growth has been the stuff of dreams, and now the last-minute hotel booking app is adding one more heavy-hitting investor to its roster: Barry Sternlicht, the founder, chairman and CEO of Starwood Capital Group. The amount remains undisclosed, but Sternlicht’s personal investment also comes with his appointment to HotelTonight as a strategic advisor.

Sternlicht was CEO and Chairman of Starwood Hotels from 1995 to 2005. Today, Starwood Hotels has 895 properties in 10 countries. Evidently, Sternlicht is such a hotel natural that he’s been nicknamed the “King of Hotels” and is the brain behind the boutique brand W Hotels. Starwood Capital Group is launching two new hotel brands this year, 1 Hotels & Resorts and Baccarat Hotels & Resorts.

“Booking windows are shrinking and customers are going mobile, trends which position HotelTonight perfectly for the future,” said Sternlicht, in a statement. “But there’s something more that attracted me – it’s that HotelTonight is proving booking by booking that both hotels and distributors can win. HotelTonight is a refreshing alternative that should become a major participant in the future of hotel distribution.”

In addition to the investment from Sternlicht, HotelTonight also announced that it has partnered with several major hotel chains, including InterContinental Hotels Group, Hyatt Hotels & Resorts, Best Western International, Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants, FRHI Hotels & Resorts (which includes the Fairmont, Raffles & Swissôtel brands), La Quinta Inn & Suites, Barcelo Hotels & Resorts and Steigenberger Hotel Group. The company adds that more will be announced soon.

Founded in 2011, HotelTonight has raised more than $80 million from Battery Ventures, US Venture Partners, Accel Partners, First Round Capital, and others. Most recently, the company raised a $45 million Series D round in September. The company has partnered with over 10,000 hotels in 17 countries and 250 destinations. To date, the app has been downloaded over nine million times.

Last May, HotelTonight debuted Snap Your Stay, a feature that prompts users to take photos of their hotel rooms to give other users a more realistic feel for what a stay at the hotel would be like.

“To have a visionary like Barry Sternlicht backing and advising HotelTonight is a powerful validation of the work the HotelTonight team and our top tier network of hotel partners have put into revolutionizing the travel industry,” said HotelTonight COO and co-founder Jared Simon, in a statement. “With his support and the addition of several chains to the app, we’re proving that the hotelier-distributor relationship doesn’t need to be adversarial but can actually be mutually beneficial.”


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