Despite Economy, Sheraton to Continue $4 Billion Revitalization Plan

Never mind the economic downturn. Sheraton Hotels & Resorts plans to finish a $4 billion, multi-year brand revitalization effort that it began in 2007, Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide announced this month.

The effort—which calls for investing over $2 billion in new hotels, $1.3 billion in renovations to existing properties, and $400 million in enhanced products and services—is intended to strengthen and enhance the overall Sheraton brand.

"The investments Starwood and our owners have made to upgrade our hotels in the last few years are coming to fruition today, and our guests are taking note," Hoyt H. Harper II, senior vice president for Sheraton Hotels & Resorts, said in a statement. "By adding new flagships, renovating existing hotels, enhancing our signature services and exiting properties that were not up to par, we've vastly upgraded the brand and improved consistency."

To date, Sheraton has already:

• Completed renovations at 63 of 98 properties, including the Sheraton Denver, Sheraton Seattle Hotel & Towers, Sheraton Chicago Hotel & Towers, Sheraton Dallas and Sheraton Waikiki.

• Opened 26 new hotels, including 16 in North America.

• Withdrawn its brand from 24 "off brand" hotels that could not meet Sheraton brand standards.

• Redesigned more than 300 lobbies worldwide in order to accommodate its [email protected] concept, which integrates work, leisure and social networking inside a zoned lobby lounge.

• Introduced its Sweet Sleeper all-white 300-thread-count bedding in 211 hotels and 83,000 guest rooms.

So far, Sheraton's revitalization plan is 70 percent complete; this year, it will continue its efforts by completing 30 more renovations and opening 20 more new hotels, including nine in North America.

Because the hotelier made most of its investments prior to fall 2008—when the recession took root—it was able to position itself for continued growth that it says will serve it well when the economy eventually rebounds.

"We've essentially spent the last few years rebuilding the house," Harper said, "and when the economy begins to recover and business picks up, more travelers will discover a new level of product and services at Sheraton hotels around the world."