Your guide to The Ritz-Carlton hotels – history, service and future plans
Links on Head for Points may pay us an affiliate commission. A list of partners is here.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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 (April 2023)
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 bonus points and 15 elite night credits 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
30,000 points and unbeatable travel benefits – for a fee Read our full review
You can also earn Marriott Bonvoy points indirectly:
- American Express Gold (20,000 bonus Amex points)
- American Express Rewards Credit Card (10,000 bonus Amex points)
and for small business owners:
- American Express Business Gold (20,000 bonus Amex points)
- American Express Business Platinum (40,000 bonus Amex points)
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.)