DUBAI, United Arab Emirates, Jan 13, 2011 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. (NYSE:HOT) is strengthening its long established position in the Middle East as one of the leading luxury hotel operators in the region with a portfolio of nearly 50 existing hotels and a pipeline of 25 new hotels. This growth, primarily in the luxury and upper-upscale segments, represents an increase of nearly 50%. By 2015, the Middle East will become the second region, after North America, to operate all nine of Starwood's world-class brands - St. Regis, The Luxury Collection, W, Westin, Le Méridien, Sheraton, Four Points by Sheraton, and the recently launched Aloft and Element - further reinforcing the company's commitment to the region.
As a key emerging market, the Middle East continues to evolve as an international business and leisure travel destination. According to the UN World Tourism Organization, the number of tourists travelling to the Middle East is expected to reach 136 million by 2020 compared with 54 million two years ago.
"Reaching out to new frontiers is a key focus for us. With more than 70% of the world's growth over the decade coming from fast-growing markets such as the Middle East, the region plays a central role in our global expansion and development strategy," said Frits van Paasschen, President and CEO, Starwood Hotels & Resorts.
Starwood's first-mover advantage in the Middle East dates back to 1966 with the debut of the Sheraton Kuwait Hotel & Towers, the company's first hotel to open outside of the United States. The property was also the first five-star hotel in Kuwait to be managed by an international company. Since that time, Starwood's portfolio in the Middle East has surged to 47 hotels in ten countries, including: United Arab Emirates (UAE), Saudi Arabia, Syria, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Qatar, Bahrain, Pakistan and Yemen.
To mark an auspicious start to the year, Starwood's most senior global executives - Frits van Paasschen, President and CEO; Vasant Prabhu, Vice Chairman and CFO; Matt Avril, President of Hotel Group; Ken Siegel, Chief Administrative Officer and General Counsel; Simon Turner, President, Global Development and Roeland Vos, President, Europe, Africa, Middle East are currently visiting the region. While in the Middle East, they will sign deals to open five new Starwood hotels in the region.
The new Sheraton Sharjah, due to open in 2013, will mark the debut of Starwood in the emirate. Starwood currently operates 20 hotels in the UAE, more than any other region, and will expand its portfolio with ten new hotels in the country in the next few years.
In 2013, the company will add to its portfolio in Muscat with the addition of three hotels under its W, Westin and Element brands. These hotels will add 700 rooms to the capital's room count when they join the Sheraton Oman which is scheduled to re-open this year following an extensive renovation. This hotel development represents a milestone for the sultanate, which is rapidly developing as a popular tourist destination.
In 2014, Starwood will debut its ultra-luxury St. Regis brand to Jordan with the St. Regis Amman and The Residences at St. Regis Amman.
"Starwood is established as the sector leader in the Middle East and we are dedicated to continued growth and expansion in the region. With 25 hotels set to open in the next few years, this market is integral to our overall growth strategy," said Roeland Vos, President of Starwood Hotels & Resorts, Europe, Africa & Middle East (EAME). "We are proud to debut our distinct and compelling brands in so many exciting international business and leisure travel destinations."
Eight out of Nine Starwood Brand Flags Fly in the Middle East
Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. is one of the leading hotel and leisure companies in the world with 1025 properties in 100 countries and territories with 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. For more information, please visit www.starwoodhotels.com.
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).
SOURCE: Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc.