WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. (BUSINESS WIRE) -- Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. (NYSE:HOT) unveiled its first in-hotel Cisco TelePresence meeting suites today with a virtual, interactive meeting spanning across two continents. The W Chicago City Center and Sheraton on the Park Sydney are the first in Starwood's global portfolio to introduce the new meeting facilities, showcasing the state-of-the-art Cisco TelePresence technology. Guests and corporate clients were brought together in a true-to-life meeting setting, despite more than 9,000 miles apart and the 17 hour time difference. Participants in both locations had a seat at the table and were able to meet "face-to-face" utilizing ultra-high definition video, superior audio and life-size imagery of all participants.
In June of 2009, Starwood announced a partnership with Tata Communications and plans to build Cisco TelePresence rooms in 10 properties worldwide. In addition to the W Chicago and Sheraton on the Park Sydney, inaugurated as part of this partnership with Tata Communications, two more Cisco TelePresence meeting suites will open in the first half of this year including the Sheraton New York Hotel & Towers and Sheraton Centre Toronto which will come online in the upcoming months. Other Starwood locations planned to open throughout 2010 include The Westin Los Angeles Airport, with the anticipation to expand the offering to key domestic and international business markets such as Dallas, San Francisco, Brussels, Paris, Hong Kong and Frankfurt. As an industry first, reservations for these telepresence rooms can be made instantly using the Tata Communications online portal, with a convenient payment capability using all major credit cards.
As the world and the hotel industry grow increasingly more global, Starwood is continuing their legacy of innovation and looking at tomorrow's travelers and how they want to meet. There is also an increasing demand to incorporate technology, virtual meetings and social media into new meeting offerings from the next generation of business travelers.
"The launch of the new Cisco TelePresence meeting suites at the W Chicago and Sheraton on the Park Sydney is another example of Starwood's commitment to innovation by offering our clients an exciting, new meetings solution that facilitates a 'face-to-face' meeting in the same room regardless of global location," said Christie Hicks, Senior Vice President of Global Sales for Starwood. "We have a great partner in Tata Communications and look forward to continuing opening new meeting facilities throughout our portfolio of hotels around the world."
"With 2010 fully in gear, we're well on our way in bringing more public rooms in critical business hubs like Sydney and Chicago. We hope that through this partnership with Starwood, even more business executives can take advantage of the productivity this technology offers and save on costs that can be invested in their core competencies. We intend to make telepresence available to as many users as possible with our global network of public telepresence rooms and our suite of managed telepresence network services for businesses. This opening is just the first step in that direction with many more in other key markets soon to follow this year," said Peter Quinlan, Director, Managed Telepresence Services, Tata Communications.
"More businesses are recognizing the value of being able to rent Cisco TelePresence facilities by the hour, either to extend their existing deployment to further locations or to experience Cisco TelePresence for the first time. Having meeting facilities in a comfortable setting with access to business services at times that fit individuals' schedule can help to take some of the grind out of traveling. The value of public suites facilities increases exponentially as more rooms from more providers come on stream, so today's announcement represents another key milestone in making these facilities more practical for business," said Mark Weidick, VP/GM for Cisco's TelePresence Exchange Business Unit.
Cisco TelePresence provides life-like, high definition, conferencing facilities with superior audio, video and environmental qualities allowing participants to meet their colleagues, customers and business partners across a virtual table. The public facility offers users who do not have telepresence rooms within their company, access to this cutting-edge technology at an affordable per hour rental rate. Tata Communications has several operational public rooms in India (Mumbai, Bangalore (x2), Chennai, Hyderabad, Delhi and Gurgaon), UK (London) and USA (Boston), Manila with PLDT in the Philippines and Johannesburg with Neotel in South Africa.
Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. is one of the leading hotel and leisure companies in the world with 992 properties in nearly 100 countries and 145,000 employees at its owned and managed properties. Starwood Hotels is a fully integrated owner, operator and franchisor of hotels, resorts and residences with the following internationally renowned brands: St. Regis(R), The Luxury Collection(R), W(R), Westin(R), Le Méridien(R), Sheraton(R), Four Points(R) by Sheraton, and the recently launched Aloft(R), and Element SM. Starwood Hotels also owns Starwood Vacation Ownership, Inc., one of the premier developers and operators of high quality vacation interval ownership resorts.
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SOURCE: Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc.