I came across this article in the USA Today. Looks like Marriott will broaden its coverage without having to build more hotels. The new brand will be called "The Autograph Collection" and will allow MR members to earn and redeem points at these hotels. See the article at this link:
Great news! I am looking forward to trying one of these new hotels!
Thanks for posting this update. From code sharing to strategic alliances (e.g. SkyTeam and Star Alliance), airlines are with some measure of success leading the way with this marketing strategy. Judging from the article, Marriott seems to be dipping their toe in these waters. Personally, I would find it most interesting should Marriott seek these partnerships in markets that otherwise do not have Marriott branded properties.