Washington, Apr 30 (AFP) Hotel chain Marriott International on Monday announced the launch of an online rental platform for luxury homes -- joining the likes of home-sharing giant Airbnb.

Starting next week, the group will offer around 2,000 high-end homes in certain areas of the US, Europe, the Caribbean and Latin America, the US firm said in a statement.

"The launch of Homes & Villas by Marriott International reflects our ongoing commitment to innovation as consumer travel needs evolve," commercial director Stephanie Linnartz said.

The launch follows a successful pilot program, she added.

Marriott, which owns brands including Sheraton and Ritz-Carlton, will allow customers using the new platform to earn loyalty points that can be put toward new bookings.

The firm is the first hotel group to delve into the home-sharing sector, with competitors including Hilton and Hyatt also exploring the industry, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Marriott said users of its new platform can expect to see properties such as a four-bedroom cottage in California wine country, a six-bedroom villa in Sorrento, Italy, complete with an infinity pool -- or even an 18th century Irish castle featuring a private lake. (AFP)

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