The new logo for the JV brand. The new logo for the JV brand.

The Spanish hotel group AC Hotels and Marriott International have formally announced their joint venture to manage and franchise a new lodging co-brand across Europe and Latin America — AC Hotels by Marriott.

With the launch, more than 90 existing AC Hotels in Spain, Italy and Portugal will be re-branded as AC Hotels by Marriott and enter into long term management or franchise agreements with the joint venture.

Antonio Catalan, chairman and founder of AC Hotels said, “We are thrilled to be partnering with Marriott. The new AC Hotels by Marriott co-brand combines the strengths of both AC Hotels and Marriott International — AC Hotels’ exceptional product and expertise and the power of Marriott’s engines, global footprint and the power of its development organization. We see tremendous growth potential for AC Hotels by Marriott and will be aggressively pursuing development opportunities throughout Europe and Latin America.”

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Amy McPherson, president and managing director of Marriott International in Europe, said, “Marriott could not ask for a better partner than the AC Hotels team. Antonio Catalan is an experienced, dynamic partner who understands this market and delivers an exceptional product, perfectly suited for the European lifestyle. We are thrilled with this opportunity to dramatically grow our presence in Spain, the 4th largest source market in Europe, and deliver a great new lifestyle product to our global customer.”

The 9,100-room AC Hotels by Marriott venture is a significant driver of Marriott’s European growth strategy, according to the company.

At launch, it will represent almost a quarter of the progress toward the company’s goal of doubling its portfolio in Europe over five years to 80,000 rooms. AC Hotels by Marriott will incorporate the concept and business model of AC Hotels’ urban lifestyle hotel product, characterized by a unique blend of quality, comfort, design and technology, with Marriott International’s global systems, distribution, and sales platforms, particularly Marriott Rewards, one of the world’s largest hospitality loyalty programs with 33 million members.

The combination will permit Marriott’s customers access under the Marriott Rewards program to a portfolio of Spain’s leading business and urban-leisure hotels, enable AC’s guests to earn Marriott Rewards points for travel at Marriott branded hotels around the world, and provide both companies with a platform for future growth.

The partners anticipate that the venture will close in the first quarter of 2011, after receipt of necessary consents and other remaining conditions have been satisfied.

Starting May 2011, they expect that all AC Hotels by Marriott hotels will be bookable on Marriott.com.