Their plan is straightforward enough: Mr. Schrager will design some 100 boutique hotels for the as-yet-unnamed brand in major cities across the United States, South America, Europe and Asia, and Marriott International will operate them. By tapping a range of renowned architects and designers, Mr. Schrager plans to give each property a distinct character. Financing will be provided by individual developers, many of which already own Marriott properties. Mr. Schrager and Marriott will each take a cut of the developers? profits.

Marriott is hoping to leverage Mr. Schrager?s aesthetic ingenuity and cachet with its own marketing and organizational muscle to gain entry into the boutique segment, among the fastest-growing in the hotel industry. According to Smith Travel Research, an independent lodging industry data firm, the United States hotel industry racked up $25.3 billion in operating profits last year amid record high occupancy rates. Marriott estimates that the global market for the boutique segment is $6 billion to $7 billion a year, of which about half is in North America.

Some industry analysts, though, are bracing themselves for a culture clash, with Mr. Schrager?s team of artists and designers trying to meld their edgy sensibilities into Marriott?s cookie-cutter template.

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