According to the trade magazine, Hotel Business, Robert McCarthy, Marriott's head of the Americas and global lodging services told the Cornell University's Dean Leadership panel that Marriott was working on a new brand called The Autograph Collection. This low-key brand would reach out to independent hotels and give them access to Marriott's reservations and rewards system but without the whole "We're Part of the Marriott Family" smugness.
And it seems like this "not a brand" brand could be rolled out to include 25 to 30 independent luxury and upscale hotels by the end of 2010.
Yet don't confuse the Autograph Collection with Marriott's own attempt to get into the boutique hotel arena. They're already making over the Renaissance hotels to fit that mold. Oh and don't forget about Edition Hotels, supposedly opening this December in Istanbul. But we bet we'll have a better chance of getting a Marriott "Autograph" (har har) before a Marriott Edition.