Starwood to open 50 hotels across the MEA region in next five years

March 12, 2013 2:35 pm

Starwood currently has an existing portfolio of 82 hotels in the region, representing nearly 22,000 guest rooms, the majority of which are operated under its Sheraton and Le Méridien brands. The company said today that it will increase its MEA portfolio by more than 60% over the next five years, adding more than 14,000 guest rooms to the region while creating thousands of local employment opportunities.

Further underscoring the importance of the region as one of Starwood’s fastest growing hotel and travel markets, earlier this month the company relocated its global headquarters from Stamford, Connecticut to Dubai for a month-long immersion.

“Starwood continues to see demand for growth of all of our brands across the Middle East and Africa despite economic and political uncertainty in some parts of this incredibly diverse region,” said Frits van Paasschen, President and CEO, Starwood Hotels & Resorts. “Rapid economic growth, rising personal incomes, a growing middle class and ever greater global connectivity are driving new travel patterns and demand for travel, and this region is at the center of these trends and a key focus of our growth strategy.”

With more than 70% of the world’s economic growth coming from fast-growing markets over the next few years, Starwood is focused on expansion in developing MEA markets such as the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Egypt, Senegal, South Africa and Nigeria. The company is also focused on growth opportunities in key emerging markets including Iraq, Pakistan, Angola, Ghana, the Ivory Coast and East Africa.

Starwood said it is planning to achieve the following milestones in MEA by 2017:

• Portfolio growth of over 60% in the UAE with 12 new hotels, including six in Dubai, bringing the company’s portfolio to more than 30 hotels across the country. Starwood’s growth plans in the UAE also include expansion into Sharjah and Ajman.
• Rapid expansion across Saudi Arabia with six new hotels slated to open by 2015 bringing Starwood’s portfolio to 15 hotels in this market.
• The re-entry of Starwood into Iraq with the signings of three hotels across three brands in the city of Erbil, located in the Kurdistan area of the country.
• The launch of Starwood’s Aloft Hotels brand in Saudi Arabia and Iraq. Aloft will also open its second property in the UAE in the emirate of Sharjah.

Under its luxury portfolio, Starwood will unveil a second St. Regis hotel on Abu Dhabi’s Corniche, making it the only city in the world to boast two St. Regis hotels. The brand also will soon enter the Egyptian market with the opening of The St. Regis Cairo.

Starwood is also seeing rapid growth of its W Hotels brand. Following the launch of the brand in the region with the opening of W Doha in 2009, Starwood has plans to open six more W Hotels across MEA in key markets, including three in Dubai and one each in Abu Dhabi, Muscat and Amman by 2017.

“Our long-established presence, local teams, and strong relationships in the region remain a competitive advantage, and position us well to take advantage of the many opportunities for future growth,” said Simon Turner, President of Global Development & Acquisition, Starwood Hotels & Resorts. “We have a healthy pipeline of new hotels under development in the Middle East and Africa, and expect our growth to continue in 2013 as we look to expand in markets including the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Nigeria.

In addition to new hotel openings, Starwood is seeing increasing opportunities for hotel conversions in MEA. In the past ten months, Starwood has signed three conversion deals in the region, including Sheraton Dubai Mall of the Emirates, which opened last month.

“We are seeing a large landscape of independent hotels ripe for flags in the region and we expect to capture more than our fair share of conversion opportunities across all of our brands,” said Roeland Vos, President of Starwood Hotels & Resorts, Europe, Africa & Middle East. “The recent conversion of the Sheraton Dubai Mall of the Emirates is a testament of this strategy.”