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Your guide to The Ritz-Carlton hotels – history, service and future plans

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The Ritz-Carlton is one of Marriott’s most luxurious brands with 108 hotels worldwide.

In this article we’ll look at the history of The Ritz-Carlton brand, what you can expect when you stay at one as well as future openings and a list of all our The Ritz-Carlton reviews.

This is the third article in a new occasional series which goes ‘behind the brands’. In our first article we looked at what a W Hotel is whilst in our second we took a look at the brand and rituals of St Regis hotels.

Ritz-Carlton hotels

The Ritz-Carlton website is here.

The history of The Ritz-Carlton

The history of The Ritz-Carlton brand is a little convoluted, as a quick glance at the Wikipedia page will tell you.

The name itself dates back to Swiss hotelier César Ritz, the first manager of The Savoy on the Strand in London. He was eventually sacked by the hotel for fraud following the disappearance of more than £3,400 worth of wine and spirits!

After his sacking, Ritz first established the famous Hôtel Ritz in Paris, followed by the Carlton hotel, again in London, in 1899. In 1905 The Ritz opened in London, with more Ritz hotels opening across Europe in subsequent years.

At the same time, Ritz and head chef Auguste Escoffier opened restaurants on several ocean liners under The Ritz-Carlton name (Escoffier was the head chef from The Carlton, hence the combination.)

In 1907 Ritz retired due to ill health and passed away eleven years later following several multi-year stays at private hospitals. Following his death, his widow continued the tradition of opening hotels in his name.

César Ritz
César Ritz

This is where things get messy. In 1911, the first The Ritz-Carlton opened in the United States in New York City under Albert Keller, who licensed and franchised the brand. The Ritz-Carlton Atlantic City and The Ritz-Carlton Philadelphia followed, as well as a The Ritz-Carlton in Montreal that was not affiliated with Keller.

In 1927, The Ritz-Carlton Boston opened as a licensee of Keller and The Ritz-Carlton Investing Company, but under different ownership. As it turned out, the timing was bad. After a successful opening the hotel faced low occupancy rates during the stock market crash of 1930s and the ensuing Great Depression.

Yet The Ritz-Carlton Boston remained open and outlived its peers; by the 1950s, it was the only The Ritz-Carlton hotel to remain in the United States. During that time the hotel was sold to Gerald F. Blakeley Jr. who also managed to acquire The Ritz-Carlton naming rights in North America (with exception of The Ritz-Carlton Montreal) which he trademarked in 1978.

This led to a renaissance of Ritz-Carlton hotels in the 1970s, including The Ritz-Carlton Chicago, The Ritz-Carlton Washington DC and a new The Ritz Carlton New York.

In 1983 The Ritz-Carlton Boston and The Ritz-Carlton trademarks were sold again, this time to William B. Johnson who established the modern The Ritz-Carlton chain under The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company. In 1988 the company obtained global rights to the brand, with the exception of the Hôtel Ritz Paris, The Ritz-Carlton Chicago, and The Ritz-Carlton Montreal.

The circuitous history of the brand is why you will often see differing naming conventions, particularly in Europe. For example in Portugal you have ‘Penha Longa, A Ritz-Carlton Hotel’ whilst on Tenerife you have ‘The Ritz-Carlton Abama’. This is due to the preceding Hôtel Ritz Paris as well as The Ritz London still having distinct claims over the names – and indeed why you won’t be seeing The Ritz-Carlton London. A similar situation exists in mainland Spain where the ‘Hotel Arts’ is ‘A Ritz-Carlton Hotel’ and where Madrid has its own (Mandarin Oriental-branded) Hotel Ritz.

The Ritz-Carlton Al Hamra
The Ritz-Carlton Al Hamra Beach, Ras Al Khaimah

Marriott International purchased a 49% stake in The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company in 1995 before taking a 99% stake in 1999. Marriott Bonvoy classifies The Ritz-Carlton as part of its ‘classic luxury’ tier, describing it as:

“Service perfected over a century, The Ritz-Carlton sets the gold standard in luxury hospitality worldwide. Its hotels and resorts tell their own unique stories in desirable destinations around the world. At each hotel, luxury comes with a distinctly local touch, whether a guest’s journey brings them to a bustling city center hotel or an exclusive, tucked-away resort. The Ritz-Carlton creates experiences so exceptional that they linger long after a guest departs. The Ritz-Carlton is a place where guests can return to whenever they like, simply by closing their eyes. The Ritz-Carlton features Michelin-starred, concept-driven restaurants inspired by their location and setting in addition to Club Lounges that feature personalized concierge services and daily food presentations. Global brand programs include the pioneering Ritz Kids and Ambassadors of the Environment offering in conjunction with Jean-Michel Cousteau’s Ocean Futures Society and Community Footprints, a dedication to corporate social responsibility, which includes being the first signatory to the UN’s Impact 2030.”

There are currently 108 The Ritz-Carlton hotels worldwide.

The Ritz-Carlton Al Wadi Desert, Ras Al Khaimah

What can you expect at The Ritz-Carlton?

In many ways The Ritz-Carlton and St Regis brands (which Marriott acquired from Starwood in 2016) occupy similar parts of the market, with historic, top-tier luxury hotels, often with traditional styling. Unlike the St Regis, however, The Ritz-Carlton has fewer unique characteristics.

The Ritz-Carlton does have strong service standards which it calls the ‘Gold Standard’. This includes the official credo:

“The Ritz-Carlton is a place where the genuine care and comfort of our guests is our highest mission.

We pledge to provide the finest personal service and facilities for our guests who will always enjoy a warm, relaxed, yet refined ambience.

The Ritz-Carlton experience enlivens the senses, instills well-being, and fulfills even the unexpressed wishes and needs of our guests.”

As well as the official The Ritz-Carlton motto: “We are Ladies and Gentlemen serving Ladies and Gentlemen.”

The Ritz-Carlton hotels currently use Purple Water toiletries by British brand Asprey:

Ritz Carlton toiletries

If you’re a particular fan, you can buy them in The Ritz-Carlton shop.

The Ritz-Carlton has a ….yacht collection?

Yes, there is also The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection. This is a new venture by the brand with the first yacht launching in 2022.

The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection offers exclusive cruises worldwide with voyages from between seven and ten days.

There is currently one superyacht, Evrima, with a further two scheduled to arrive in 2024 and 2025. The yachts are 190 metres long and accommodate up to 298 passengers in 149 suites, each with a private balcony.

You can find out more about The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection here.

Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection

Future openings

The Ritz-Carlton Amman will join The Ritz-Carlton family this year with 228 guest rooms and 34 suites. This will be joined in September by the second The Ritz-Carlton to open in Australia, The Ritz-Carlton Melbourne.

Ritz Carlton Reserve Phulay Bay grounds
Phulay Bay, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve

The Ritz-Carlton hotel reviews

We have reviewed a number of The Ritz-Carlton hotels in recent years. Our review of The Ritz-Carlton Abama Tenerife is here, whilst our review of Penha Longa, a Ritz-Carlton hotel is here. We have also reviewed The Ritz-Carlton Al Wadi Desert resort in Ras Al Kaimah and Phulay Bay, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve in Thailand amongst others – click the links below.

The Ritz-Carlton website is here if you want to learn more about the hotels.

Other guides in this series

Confused about the differences between all of Marriott Bonvoy’s 30+ hotel brands? We’ve written a series of guides to explain what you can expect:

How to earn Marriott Bonvoy points and status from UK credit cards

How to earn Marriott Bonvoy points and status from UK credit cards (July 2024)

There are various ways of earning Marriott Bonvoy points from UK credit cards.  Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses.

The official Marriott Bonvoy American Express card comes with 20,000 points for signing up, 2 points for every £1 you spend and 15 elite night credits per year.

You can apply here.

Marriott Bonvoy American Express

20,000 points for signing up and 15 elite night credits each year Read our full review

You can also earn Marriott Bonvoy points by converting American Express Membership Rewards points at the rate of 2:3.

Do you know that holders of The Platinum Card from American Express receive FREE Marriott Bonvoy Gold status for as long as they hold the card?  It also comes with Hilton Honors Gold, Radisson Rewards Premium and MeliaRewards Gold status.  We reviewed American Express Platinum in detail here and you can apply here.

The Platinum Card from American Express

40,000 bonus points AND (to 27th August) £400 to spend at Amex Travel Read our full review

You can also earn Marriott Bonvoy points indirectly:

and for small business owners:

The conversion rate from American Express to Marriott Bonvoy points is 2:3.

Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which can be used to earn Marriott Bonvoy points

(Want to earn more hotel points?  Click here to see our complete list of promotions from the major hotel chains or use the ‘Hotel Offers’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)

Comments (33)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • Matt says:

    I’ve stayed at Ritz Carlton hotels which working across the Middle East more times than I care to remember. The hotel staff are generally a lot better trained than other Marriott brands and go beyond duty to take care of their guests, which is great on business if you need dry cleaning done at very short notice etc. However lack of any status benefits or room upgrades means I avoid them for leisure redemptions, unless it’s a property I really want to visit.

    • David says:

      I remember the Ritz Carlton in Dubai circ 2000 – harpist and big bowl of help yourself beluga in the club lounge.

  • David says:

    It’s a Marriott in a posh frock but without any Bonvoy benefits. St Regis every time.

    • Rob says:

      There are a lot like that. I think they have upped their game in recent years though, eg Kyoto. Properties like the (now reflagged) New York Battery Park were just bed factories with posh room furnishings though – no public space, no real restaurant etc.

      • David says:

        Yup Battery park was horrible. I just hate that slightly worn American idea of an 80s French chateau design ( San Francisco). Waikiki was amazing tho and I really like Bali too.

  • George K says:

    I would have liked to read a bit more about the modern dichotomy and more recent history.

    I avoid RCs as they do nothing for Bonvoy status members. I’d forgo upgrades even just for free breakfast…

  • DTR says:

    Only ever stayed the once in RC Kapalua (Maui). Booked standard room on redemption and got an upgrade as Marriott Gold to a suite. 2018 though so before Bonvoy came on the scene…

  • Jimbob says:

    There’s much talk of RC not recognising Bonvoy status, but when we stayed at the RC Central Park pre-pandemic as a lowly Gold on reward nights, we were upgraded from a standard room to a top floor park view room, which is a triple upgrade.

    Never had that sort of recognition at IHG as a diamond elite/spire

  • Marc says:

    Is this sponsored content?

    • Rob says:

      If it’s sponsored, it’s marked as sponsored. Not tricky.

  • BS says:

    Ritz Carlton Yachts are licensed arrangements with Marriott – not owned or operated by RC/Marriott as are Ritz Carlton Residences and Ritz Carlton Reserves. Should’ve mentioned that the Ritz Carlton in Chicago was actually and bizarrely managed as a one-off “franchise” by Four Seasons Hotels. Also should’ve mentioned that people in the hotel industry had strokes when Marriott purchased Ritz Carlton and arguably diluted the brand and service like when they downgraded the requirements of Ritz Carltons to have Les Clef d’Oe Concierges

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

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