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Marriott Snaps Up Caribbean Hotel Company With Makeover In Mind

Turtle Beach Hotel on the southwestern coast of Barbados, as of 2013

Marriott International's relentless push for expansion has taken it to the vacation destination of Barbados.

On Friday, the global hotel giant announced an agreement for the acquisition of Elegant Hotels, owner of seven hotels on Barbados totaling 588 rooms, the Washington Business Journal reports.

Elegant had been the biggest hotel operator on the island by room count, with six of its seven properties sitting on the western coast of the island among the most valuable real estate in the independent British Commonwealth nation.

Marriott paid $199M for Elegant Hotels in an all-cash transaction that included $69M in total net debt, according to its statement. Most of the hotels in the deal operate as all-inclusive resorts, a sector (like the Caribbean) that Marriott CEO Arne Sorenson said his company is targeting for continued expansion, the WBJ reports.

Once the transaction is finalized, Marriott will renovate all of the properties and operate them under a luxury brand name within its portfolio of 30. One of those brands, Element by Westin, had an announcement of its own on Friday: the rollout of Studio Commons, a hybrid suite setup that mimics co-living in its layout.

A Studio Commons suite will include four private bedrooms surrounding a full-size kitchen, a living room and a dining area. In its press release, Element envisioned an extended family that lives in disparate locations coming together in a Studio Commons for a shared vacation.

This year has been one of consistent experimentation in new revenue streams for Marriott, which is the largest hotel company in the world with a market capitalization of $40.6B. The new initiatives include a home-sharing business and a partnership with Amazon to integrate its Alexa voice assistant.

So far, the moves have not been enough for the company to keep pace with the hotel industry at large, as its 11.6% growth in share value this year sits below the overall average of 14.6%, Zacks Equity Research reports.

Marriott's push for new revenue streams may have been overzealous, according to a lawsuit filed by the attorney general of Washington, D.C. The hotel chain's usage of fees that are only disclosed at the final stages of online checkout amounts to an illegal bait-and-switch, the AG alleged.