Starwood Hotels & Resorts Doubling Chinese Footprint

Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide has opened more than 100 hotels in China and has signed deals to open another 100 in the months and years ahead, it announced last week.

"Our celebration of our more than 100 hotels in operation and 100 hotels in the pipeline marks another significant milestone for Starwood's growth and development in China as we double our footprint in the region," said Vasant Prabhu, vice chairman and chief financial officer of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide. "Our success in China reflects our first mover advantage, the strength of our brands and the entrusted partnerships we have fostered with our developers, partners, and guests since our first landmark debut with The Great Wall Sheraton Hotel in Beijing in 1985."

To date, Starwood has opened 103 Chinese hotels, including 11 so far this year. It expects to open another 13 by the end of 2012.

"With more high end hotels in China today than any of our competitors, our long lead will be enhanced by the record number of new hotels we have in our pipeline," said Simon Turner, president, global development. "China continues to present tremendous growth opportunities for Starwood as we drive to introduce our valued, world class brands into new markets that do not yet have a major international branded hotel."

According to Starwood, Sheraton Hotels, in particular, will continue to drive the company's growth in the region: Sheraton is on track to reach 90 hotels in Greater China by 2016. Driven by strong demand in second- and third-tier cities, it's slated to open seven new properties across China — including Changbaishan, Dalian, Huzhou, Hefei, Jiaozhou, Fuzhou and Macao — by the end of 2012.

Other Starwood brands that are growing in China include Westin, which already has 16 Chinese hotels with 11 more in the pipeline; Le Meridien, which has eight hotels in China and six more planned; Four Points by Sheraton, which currently manages 15 hotels in China and has 20 more poised to open; and Aloft, which currently has five Chinese hotels and six more in the pipeline.

Starwood's luxury brands also are doing well in China, according to the company, which currently has nine luxury hotels operating in China under its St. Regis, Luxury Collection and W brands, with 18 more in the pipeline.

"As demand grows, we are seeing a change in luxury consumption as travelers become more connected, more diverse and more sophisticated. The same trends can be observed with our Chinese travelers," said Stephen Ho, president, Asia Pacific. "Luxury is no longer a one-size-fits-all proposition. What once was prescribed is now personalized with less formality and more fun. At Starwood, we feel uniquely suited to benefit from these major shifts."