- (May 2006) Starwood Hotels & Resorts, which operates
more than 850 luxury hotels around the world, has announced
that it will shift its regional office from Cairo to
Dubai. The move is part of major restructuring of its
operations in the Middle East where the group plans
to double its portfolio from 50 to 100 properties within
According to Roeland Vos, President for Starwood Hotels
and Resorts in Europe, Africa and Middle East, "Dubai,
where the hotel industry is witnessing a phenomenal
growth, is our new regional head quarters and the launch
pad of our regional expansion."
He said the reorganization would enable the group to
streamline operations in a way that produces the maximum
benefit for its guests and the owners of the hotels
which carry the Starwood brands.
"With an impressive 21% growth in revenue per available
room, the Middle East region was the top performing
tourist region in the world during 2005 for the second
year in row," added Roeland. With the recent acquisition
of the Le Meridien chain, Starwood's portfolio of hotels
in the region has grown to 48 from 25. In the UAE alone
the number of Starwood properties jumped from 7 to 19
This has positioned the group as the largest and the
only hotel operator having presence in every single
market throughout the region.
In Dubai, the latest project announced by the group
is the W Hotels Worldwide, a 350-room luxury hotel at
Dubai Festival City - the brand's first Middle East
W Dubai Festival City, which is scheduled to open in
2008, will be at the heart of Dubai Festival City's
245,000 square meter Harbour of the Creek development
and will be the contemporary waterfront community's
hospitality centerpiece. Vos said as a sophisticated
commercial and tourist destination, with world-class
shopping, dining, beaches and year-round sun, Dubai
is an ideal regional launch pad for W.
"In the Middle East, we have a longstanding history
that goes back to more than 40 years. Our strategy is
based on expanding and diversifying Starwood's regional
brand portfolio in key growth locations, and the recent
acquisition of the Le Meridien brand worldwide represents
a tangible translation of our expansion and diversification
strategy," he said.
Describing the growth of Dubai as a global tourist and
hospitality center as spectacular, Vos said the Dubai
magic would sustain as long as the government supports
the industry with world-class infrastructure and other
innovative marketing ideas that attract tourists and
visitors to the region.
Dismissing suggestions that the current boom driven
by Dubai is to end bubble-like, he said Starwood sees
a long-term prospect for the region as whole and for
Dubai in particular.
"Last year, Starwood operations in the Middle East
witnessed a phenomenal growth with a 100% portfolio
rise. In the next five years, we are geared for a 100%
growth aided by the region's dynamic development including
the all round economic boom, high population's growth
along with its emergence as a major business and leisure
Currently, Starwood group has 14 projects, including
five in the Middle East, under construction and 250
deals in the pipeline to ensure that the brand sustains
its remarkable growth trend, he said.
Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, which has a
presence in more than 95 countries, includes the brands
St. Regis, The Luxury Collection, Sheraton, Westin,
Four Points by Sheraton, W, Le Méridien and the
recently announced AloftSM.
Starwood Hotels also owns Starwood Vacation Ownership,
Inc., one of the premier developers and operators of
high-quality vacation interval ownership resorts.
Vos said the $225 million acquisition of the Le Méridien
brand management and fee business of 130 hotels and
resorts globally supported Starwood's strategic shift
from its significant real estate ownership to a management
and franchise fee focused model, one of the strategic
pillars that underpin Starwood's future direction.
"The acquisition of the Le Méridien brand
is an exciting and significant development for Starwood
that we believe further defines us as a truly global
hotel operator," he said.
"Le Méridien hotels and resorts represents
both a great growth opportunity, alongside Starwood's
W and Westin brands, and extends the number of destination
choices of travel to Starwood loyalists across the world."
With 43 properties in Europe, 47 properties in Africa
and the Middle East, 28 properties in Asia Pacific and
India and 12 in the Americas the brand is also a perfect
complement to Starwood's current geographical footprint,
securing its position as one of the leading consumer
lifestyle hotel and leisure companies in the world,