A Primed Meridien

Starwood Hotels' recent acquisition of Le Meridien will prompt massive growth of that brand's portfolio, particularly in North America, according to company officials at a recent meeting with the media.

This new union, created earlier this year, has already been a boon for Le Meridien's occupancies. Loyal Starwood customers have flocked to the historically European brand. Now standing at 90 properties in Europe and the Middle East, 30 in Asia, and five in the Americas, Le Meridien is expected to grow to 40 hotels across North America and increase its presence dramatically in India and China.

Near term, six Le Meridiens will open worldwide in 2006 and eight more within the next two years. The brand's robust plans include 84 expected but not-yet-signed deals. "We will see an explosion of growth in the next few years," says Michael Wale, senior vice president of Le Meridien operations. "Starwood is committed to enhancing and growing the brand."

Interest in Le Meridien by Starwood customers has mushroomed at an astounding rate. Within one month of the acquisition, Le Meridien's room bookings increased by about 30 percent—virtually all attributable to members of Starwood's loyalty program, Starwood Preferred Guest, according to Wale.