MUMBAI, India (BUSINESS WIRE) - Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. (NYSE: HOT) today announced it is on track with plans to grow its existing portfolio of 26 hotels in India 60% by 2013. The news comes as Starwood's President and CEO, Frits van Paasschen, and the company's leadership team, embark on a two week tour of the country to meet with hotel owners, developers and team members.
"India is a key focus of our expansion efforts, in large part, because it is a market that today is relatively under-hoteled," said van Paasschen. "As a point of perspective, consider that India with a population of one billion people has just 100,000 hotel rooms, while New York City alone has roughly 80,000 hotel rooms."
Starwood's legacy in India began in 1973, when its Sheraton brand debuted in Mumbai. The company has since grown the portfolio to 26 hotels under its Westin, Sheraton, Four Points by Sheraton, The Luxury Collection and Le Méridien brands - making Starwood the largest upper-upscale and luxury US-based hotel operator.
Looking ahead, Starwood and its partners have another 15 hotels under development in India - including six Aloft hotels - three of which are slated to open this year. In the process of opening these hotels, Starwood continues to help build infrastructure and create career opportunities. In fact, its new hotel openings from 2007 until the end of 2010 will have created more than 4,000 new jobs.
Notably, India trails only China in terms of future growth numbers for the company within Asia Pacific. And Asia Pacific represents the company's largest growth market.
"Inviting comparisons between India and China can be dangerous, but we do see some commonalities," added van Paasschen. "If you recall, the world believed that China was the place of the future for 20 years before it really saw an economic boom, and we feel the same way about India. All signs and trends we're seeing show us that India in the next 10 years is where you want to be, and we are proud to have established our presence here almost 40 years ago."
In terms of international visitors, India remains a relatively undeveloped travel market, with approximately five million inbound travelers each year, versus China's more than 50 million. However, the rise of India's middle class has led to a notable increase in domestic travel, while the influx of outsourcing contracts - including Starwood's - is expected to create a surge in international tourism.
"India is one of the most promising markets within Asia Pacific, with GDP estimates topping seven percent for the next two years and a consumer market expected to rank as the world's fifth largest by 2025," said Miguel Ko, Chairman & President of Starwood's Asia Pacific Division. "This relatively underdeveloped hotel market is fertile ground for our high-caliber lifestyle brands and we look forward to further establishing our presence here."
Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. is one of the leading hotel and leisure companies in the world with 1000 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 ElementSM. Starwood Hotels also owns Starwood Vacation Ownership, Inc., one of the premier developers and operators of high quality vacation interval ownership resorts.
Note: This press release contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of federal securities regulations. Forward-looking statements are not guarantees of future performance and involve risks and uncertainties and other factors that may cause actual results to differ materially from those anticipated at the time the forward-looking statements are made. Further results, performance and achievements may be affected by general economic conditions, including the duration and severity of any global or regional economic downturns, the availability of financing alternatives at acceptable terms, the impact of war and terrorist activity, business and financing conditions, foreign exchange fluctuations, cyclicality of the real estate (including residential) and the hotel and vacation ownership businesses, operating risks associated with the hotel, vacation ownership and residential businesses. These risks and uncertainties are presented in detail in our filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Further, there can be no assurance that agreements will be entered into for the hotels in the Company's pipeline and, if entered into, the timing of any agreement and the opening of the related hotel. Although we believe the expectations reflected in such forward-looking statements are based upon reasonable assumptions, we can give no assurance that our expectations will be attained or that results will not materially differ. We undertake no obligation to publicly update or revise any forward-looking statement, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.
SOURCE: Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc.