Category Archives: Starwood Hotels & Resorts

Starwood Execs Packing For China

How cool would it be if you were a Starwood exec?

Well Starwood announced that it will move its top execs to China for a month so they can immerse themselves in Chinese culture and their ways of doing business.

This announcement also stated that Starwood has more hotels outside of the U.S. than inside and 80 percent of the hotels it plans to open will b outside of North America.

“Starwood is no longer an American company that happens to run some hotels overseas,” CEO Frits van Paasschen said in a statement. “Today, we’re a global company that happens to be based in New York.”

China is Starwood’s fastest-growing market and its largest outside the U.S. The company said it has more than 70 hotels in China with plans for 90 more.

Van Paasschen and seven other top executives will spend June 8 to July 11 in Shanghai. The company said it expects to try similar programs each year in other fast-growing markets, including Brazil, the United Arab Emirates and India.


St. Regis Announces 10 Hotel Openings Over The Next 12 Months

St. Regis Hotels & Resorts continues its dynamic global expansion plans with the debut of new hotels and resorts in Bangkok, Florence, China, Doha, Abu Dhabi, Mauritius and Bal Harbour within the next 12 months. Within this time frame, St. Regis will open ten new properties, which is the most the brand has ever debuted in one year since it was founded in 1904.

St. Regis’ expanded footprint will span the world’s most vibrant gateway cities and exotic resort destinations in Africa, Asia, North America, Europe and the Middle East and feature new construction as well as a magnificent and meticulous restoration of the Grand Hotel in Florence, which will open as The St. Regis Florence this September.

The following list includes the spectacular new hotels that will join the brand’s distinguished portfolio at the best addresses around the world offering St. Regis’ signature bespoke services, luxury amenities, modern sophistication and refined elegance:

The St. Regis Bangkok, April 2011
The St. Regis Florence, September 2011
The St. Regis Tianjin, Fall 2011
The St. Regis Doha, November 2011
The St. Regis Saadiyat Island Resort, Abu Dubai, November 2011
The St. Regis Sanya Yalong Bay Resort, Quarter 4 2011
The St Regis Shenzhen, Quarter 4 2011
The St. Regis Abu Dhabi, January 2012
The St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort, April 2012
The St. Regis Mauritius, April 2012

W Hotels Set To Unveil Six Newly Designed Hotels In 2011

W Taipei (February 14, 2011) – GA Design International has created a “nature electrified” design concept that fuses the rural surroundings of Taipei with the vibrant, high voltage core of the city. W Hotels Designer of the Future winner Zigelbaum + Coelho has also been commissioned to create an interactive chandelier for the hotel.

W London – Leicester Square (February 14, 2011) – Debuting as the 40th W Hotel globally, W London has been designed by renowned London architects Jestico + Whiles and Dutch interior design agency, Concrete. Veiled in translucent glass that will change color according to the time of day or happenings in the city or hotel, the 10-story hotel is sure to become the epicenter of entertainment. Interiors are based on the “dual personality” of the Englishman – buttoned-up by day and uninhibited and free-spirited by night.

W St. Petersburg (March 2011) – With architecture by Grigoriev + Partners and interior design by Milan-based Antonio Citterio and Partners, W St. Petersburg will be located in a historic building near the lavish Winter Palace, a new place to experience the white of night. Inspired by the jewel-tones and layers of a Fabergé Egg, the “hidden gem” design of the hotel will reveal surprises throughout the guest experience.

W Retreat & Spa Bali – Seminyak (March 2011) – For its latest Retreat experience, W Hotels has partnered with SCDA Design International and AB Concepts Hong Kong. An island marked by worship and celebration, the design of W Bali was inspired by the more than 20,000 temples that populate the Island – each with private inner courtyards and public outer courtyards that constantly “conceal and reveal,” introducing a new scene unseen.

W Paris – Opéra (December 2011) – Located steps from the world-famous Opéra Garnier, W Paris – Opéra has been designed by Rockwell Group Europe (“RGe”) and inspired by both the energy of New York City – W’s birthplace – and Paris as the “City of Light.” Sure to light up the refined district, W Paris will melt the somber traditions of the 1870s Haussman-era building in which it will be housed with a “spark” of modern radiance.

W Guangzhou (December 2011) – With architecture by Hong Kong-based Rocco Design and interiors by renowned Yabu Pushelberg, the design of W Guangzhou, located in the city’s buzzing Zhujiang district, has been inspired by the region’s ancient Kesi Tapestries. Throughout the hotel, guests will find themes around unraveling, mesh work and emerging patterns.

Starwood to open Westin Phoenix Downtown

Starwood Hotels & Resorts today announced plans to open its first Westin hotel in Phoenix, Arizona in February 2011.

The Westin Phoenix Downtown will offer a prime location just one block from the Phoenix Convention Center, the city’s largest convention and entertainment facility. The 242-room hotel will feature sophisticated oversized guest rooms, averaging 550 square feet, as well as a full suite of the Westin brand’s signature amenities and services.

The Westin Phoenix Downtown will occupy nine floors of the Freeport McMoRan Center, a significant new landmark on the downtown Phoenix skyline. Located at 333 North Central Avenue, the mixed-use complex will also feature 2,100 square feet of ground floor retail, premium office space and indoor parking. Surrounded by a choice of restaurants, shops and nightlife, the new hotel will be across the street from a METRO light rail station, where guests can hop on a train to Sky Harbor International Airport.

'Lifestyle' hotels are the wave of the future for major hotel brands

Nearly every top hotel company from Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc. to Hyatt Hotels Corp. to InterContinental Hotels Group has unveiled or expanded boutique concepts, also called lifestyle brands.

Now, Marriott International Inc., the largest U.S. hotelier by market value, is opening its first Edition hotel in Waikiki Beach in October in partnership with hotel magnate Ian Schrager.

“We’re interested in getting into the market as fast as we can and with as many as we can,” Marriott Chief Executive J.W. “Bill” Marriott said of the boutique segment in a recent interview.

Undoubtedly, lifestyle hotels are the wave of the future, experts said. Boutique hotels can charge as much as 12 percent more than other hotels of similar quality, according to Lodging Advisors LLC, which surveyed the top 15 U.S. markets.

Last month, Marriott bought the former Seville hotel in Miami Beach and announced plans to refashion it as an Edition.

The move was rare for Marriott, which prefers to operate, not own hotels, and underscored the growing importance of the segment for the future of the company and the industry.

“This heightened experience and individuality is something that I think is the future of the hotel business and other businesses,” Schrager said. “It’s really about how it feels.”

Still, the shaky economy and moribund financing for new hotels raises doubts about how quickly Edition and similar brands can grow. Investors and developers still view the boutique hotel segment as riskier than more well-known and widespread traditional chains.

Hotel experts add it is difficult to duplicate or even define the boutique hotel segment. Such hotels can range from around 100 rooms to 1,000 and from two-star to five.

“You can insult someone by saying their hotel is not a boutique and they think it is,” said Robert Mandelbaum, director of research with Colliers PKF Hospitality Research.


Schrager, who opened the Morgans Hotel in 1984, is widely credited as the creator of the modern boutique hotel. But the launch of Starwood’s W in 1998 was the first attempt to create a brand around the concept.

So when Marriott came knocking, Schrager seized the chance to build a brand on a scale he could not achieve alone and signed on in 2007.

“The kinds of (hotels) that I got started with about 25 years ago, there are hundreds of versions of them in virtually every city in the world,” Schrager said. “Well, they could have been mine.”

As of the first quarter of 2010, there were 390 lifestyle hotels run by lodging companies in the United States, according to data company Lodging Econometrics. And 100 boutique hotels have opened or are set to open in 2010 and 2011.

Hyatt is growing its Andaz brand and InterContinental has its Hotel Indigo chain. Eva Ziegler, who oversees Starwood’s W, said it would be “realistic” for the chain to grow to 100 hotels in the next 15 to 20 years, up from 35 as of July.

In 2008, Marriott projected there would be 100 Edition hotels globally within 10 years.

The Edition project has touched off a debate that persists today over how swiftly and successfully the boutique concept can grow.

Schrager is knee-deep in the details, eyeing elements as small as the stitch on a couch.

He argues he can churn out original ideas as quickly as Marriott can seal hotel deals, adding that Edition need not “fall prey to that traditional mass market model.”

Others disagree.

“It is impossible for that level of care to be replicated over and over,” said Michael Achenbaum, president of the Gansevoort Hotel Group. “As talented as Ian is, even he can’t spread himself that thin.”


Lenders worry about the long-term viability a hotel’s design, Lodging Advisors CEO Sean Hennessey said.

Brands such as Holiday Inn or Westin tend to outfit their hotels with similar bedding or artwork. By contrast, the decor of a boutique hotel is subject to the whims of the designer.

“Purple flower plastic wallpaper or a shark tank in your lobby — it sounds good when you open, but it has to have longevity,” said Brad Wilson, chief operating officer of Denihan Hospitality Group. “Otherwise, you’re going to be renovating every five years.”

Such concerns matter because financing for new hotels is still well off the levels of two years ago. U.S. hotel projects under construction or in the planning stages in the second quarter of 2010 were down 43 percent from 2008, according to Lodging Econometrics.

With the economic downturn, financing for hotel projects has dropped, undercutting Marriott’s expansion plans for Edition.

A Marriott spokesman declined to comment on whether Edition could meet its target, but CEO Marriott said the company could open as many as 10 Editions within three years.

“As the global economy improves and credit markets begin to loosen up, we are seeing greater interest in the EDITION brand from developers,” the company said in an e-mail. “That interest will only grow with the opening of the first EDITION hotels this year.”