Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. 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.
First Mover Advantage Key to Starwood’s Leadership Role in the Middle East
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.
Starwood Signs Five New Hotel Deals for the Middle East this Month
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 debuted its iconic Sheraton Hotels & Resorts in the Middle East in 1966 and since that time the brand has grown to 16 hotels located in key business and leisure travel destinations throughout the Middle East.
Benefiting from Sheraton’s strong brand awareness, its sister brand, Four Points by Sheraton has six hotels and another five poised to open by end 2013.
Global powerhouse Le Méridien leads Starwood’s portfolio in the region with 18 hotels throughout the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Jordan. The brand will enter Qatar in 2013 with the new Le Méridien Doha.
This year Starwood will debut its ultra-luxury brand, St. Regis, in the Middle East with the opening of three St. Regis hotels – one in Doha and two in Abu Dhabi. The company plans to open additional St. Regis hotels in Amman and Dubai in the next three years.
Also on the luxury front, the UAE’s iconic Al Maha Desert Resort & Spa recently joined The Luxury Collection Portfolio. The Luxury Collection currently has three hotels in the region throughout the UAE and in Kuwait and plans to open two additional hotels in Aqaba, Jordan and Ajman, UAE.
Design-led W Hotels made its debut in the Middle East in 2009 with the opening of the W Doha in Qatar. The brand has plans to open four more W Hotels in the region by end 2014 in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Amman, and Muscat.
Starwood’s new Aloft brand, which offers style, design and high-tech touches at an affordable price, opened in Abu Dhabi in 2009, marking the debut of the brand in the Middle East. The brand will make its entrance into Saudi Arabia in 2013 with the Aloft Riyadh.
Starwood’s newest brand, Element, will soon debut in the buzzing city of Muscat, Oman as part of a trio of Starwood hotels opening in the city. Element is Starwood’s eco-chic hotel brand that blends nature-inspired smart design, inspiring public spaces, and comfortable modern touches.