by Deanna Ting | March 10, 2014
Hoyt Harper

At its first-ever Sheraton Hotels General Manager Summit at the Sheraton Seattle, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide announced that its largest global brand is on track to achieve record-breaking growth with 35 new hotels expected to open in the next year. Nearly half of those hotels will open in China, as well as in emerging markets that include Samoa, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, and a return to Iraq.

During his opening address on Monday, March 10, Hoyt Harper, global brand leader for Sheraton Hotels & Resorts, told the audience of general managers, owners, and clients from around the world, that Sheraton is expected to have a total of 500 hotels in 18 new countries by 2016. In 2013, Sheraton generated a total of $8.7 billion in revenue.

For Sheraton, the General Manager Summit is an opportunity for Harper and other brand and Starwood leaders to educate Sheraton's more than 400 general managers worldwide, and develop a comprehensive game plan for global brand success.

That success, said Starwood President and CEO Frits van Paasschen, is crucial to the overall growth of Starwood. "Sheraton represents 40 percent of Starwood's global pipeline," he said. "We need to make sure that Sheraton stays relevant and remains a brand of choice." He later added, "If it weren't for Sheraton, there wouldn't be a W, or Aloft … the future of Sheraton and Starwood are one and the same." 

To promote brand development and awareness, van Paasschen said that Sheraton will embark on a total of 10 different initiatives that make up Starwood's GPS (Global Personalization at Starwood) program. These include the further development and deployment of "Your Stay Your Way," which keeps track of guests' travel preferences, and Smart Check-In, which allows guests to check in using their smartphones. A B2B Transformation related to meetings business is also in the works.

Growth in Asia-Pacific
In 2013, Sheraton had a total of 100 hotels in Asia Pacific, and it will open 23 over the next year, with approximately one hotel opening every three weeks in China alone in such cities as Wuhan, Shaoxing, Nanchang, Zhengzhou, and Qingdao. Sheraton is also planning to add a third hotel in Beijing and a fifth in Shanghai. A reflection of the brand's power and popularity in China, Sheraton is recognized by the high court of Beijing as one of a select number of "famous brands" and is the only hotel brand included in that group. 

Sheraton is also growing in India, with three new properties slated to open over the next two years in Bengalaru, Noida, and Chandigarh. 

Growth in Emerging Markets
In Europe, Sheraton will add two new hotels that include the Sheraton Rostov-On-Don Hotel in Russia and the Sheraton Ismayilli Resort & Spa in Azerbaijan. In February, the Sheraton Zurich Hotel opened, making it the second Sheraton in Zurich.

In the Middle East, Sheraton is opening seven new properties, increasing its total Middle East portfolio to 23 by February 2015. These include debuts in Kazakhstan and Tajikistan, a return to Iraq, and hotels in Saudi Arabia and Dubai.

In Africa, Sheraton is planning to open hotels in Mauritania, Guinea, and South Sudan by 2017.

Growth in Latin America and the Caribbean
With the global spotlight turning to Brazil this summer when it hosts the FIFA World Cup, Sheraton is in a solid position to benefit from that event, as well as the upcoming Summer Olympics in 2016. The recently renovated Sheraton Rio will serve as the headquarters hotel for its partner, Coca-Cola, and will also host athletes from the two final teams that will compete for the World Cup title. This year, Sheraton is also planning to open its seventh hotel in Brazil-the Sheraton Reserva do Paiva Hotel and Convention Center.

Next month, Sheraton will return to the Dominican Republic when it opens the Sheraton Santo Domingo Hotel.

At the end of his speech, van Paasschen noted, "Starwood's success as a global leader is dependent on Sheraton, and I believe Sheraton's future will be even more powerful. I like to think of Sheraton as the world's gathering place - a truly global hometown hotel."