Good Travels: A Chat with Marriott International’s Craig Smith

We spoke to Craig Smith, president and managing director, Asia Pacific, Marriott International, to find out what sets Marriott Bonvoy apart from the other travel loyalty programs out there.

With Marriott Bonvoy, members can book over 7,000 hotels across 30 brands, including W Maldives.

Marriott Bonvoy stands for…

Our belief that good travel has the power to enrich lives and unite the world. The program’s new name, which is derived from the French expression bon voyage, represents a shift from a mere hotel points program to a holistic and aspirational travel program that brings to life our portfolio of global brands in 132 countries and territories, rich rewards, and endless experiences.

What excites me the most about this travel program…

The unification brings together the best of all three loyalty programs, namely Marriott Rewards, The Ritz-Carlton Rewards, and Starwood Preferred Guests. On a practical level, it means that our members can finally enjoy a one-stop-shop experience for managing their loyalty accounts and booking our global inventory of over 7,000 hotels across 30 brands.

What sets us apart from other loyalty programs…

Our focus on delivering experiences that fuel the passions of our 133 million members worldwide that they wouldn’t otherwise be able to have. Travelers today are experience-seekers; they are looking for authentic, meaningful and purposeful experiences that help get them in touch with themselves rather than things.

Whether it’s a chance to become the Manchester United Club’s stadium announcer or kit manager, join celebrity meet-and-greets or participate in a table tennis masterclass with ex-Olympian Wang Nan, we are expanding the guest experience so as to delight our members beyond a hotel stay.

Tell us more about Ritz-Carlton’s multi-year partnership with Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport…

The partnership brings together two like-minded brands committed to excellence. As part of this partnership, Marriott Bonvoy members will have the opportunity to interact with Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport drivers Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas, experience races from the paddock, and enjoy exclusive on-track VIP hospitality in the team’s Silver Arrows Lounge.

Marriott Bonvoy partnerships in the pipeline…

Marriott Hotels’ global partnership with TED continues for its third year, as Marriott TED Fellows Salon makes its way to Singapore on October 29 at Singapore Marriott Hotel Tang Plaza. The highly-curated salon will feature two international TED fellows who will share their stories on the topic of “Creative and Thinking Outside The Box.”

Al Maha, a Luxury Collection Desert Resort & Spa.

How is luxury travel changing these days? What are some of the biggest trends you see developing in 2019/2020?

One of the three biggest trends observed is the preference for micro trips (staycations) and short getaways where travelers are squeezing in more travel itineraries into short time frames at unique accommodations. The second trend sees adventure activities becoming increasingly significant to the luxury traveler. As far-flung travel becomes more mainstream, luxury travelers are seeking nomadic, over-the-top and off-the-grid adventures in alternative destinations. One such example is the Al Maha, a Luxury Collection Desert Resort & Spa, as well as Grosvenor House, a Luxury Collection Hotel in Dubai offering an array of activities including horse rides, camel treks, and nature walks along the sand dunes, as well as signature desert safaris and classes to practice the distinguished arts of archery and falconry.

There is also a growing trend on wellness becoming a new status symbol, where 30 percent of global luxury travelers have indicated a focus on mindfulness and wellbeing activities as key priorities when booking their next holiday.

Five destinations to watch this year and next…

The Maldives, Koh Samui, Bali, Xi’an, and Chengdu.

Traveling has taught me…

To have a much broader perspective and a better understanding of different cultures and people that makes me think more critically about the world. Traveling gives me a new point of view. This is best summed up by one of my favorite quotes by Saint Augustine: “The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.”

JW Marriott Maldives Resort & Spa.

I’m looking forward to this upcoming Marriott opening…

JW Marriott Maldives Resort & Spa, one of our most highly anticipated openings and also our third luxury brand and fifth hotel in the country. The property will feature 60 spacious villas all with private pools that have been created to look like inverted Dhoni boats, the traditional fishing boat of the Maldives.

Share this Article