Starwood to expand in China
Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc. said that it plans to open 50 new hotels in China by 2011 and more than double its presence in the world’s largest country.
The aggressive expansion includes a construction binge in Shanghai, China’s largest city, that calls for about 12 Starwood hotels to operate there within two years. That would rival Starwood’s footprint in New York City, the company’s largest market in the United States.
“Starwood’s long term growth opportunity in China is perhaps unsurpassed anywhere in the world,” Chief Executive Frits Van Paasschen said in a written statement. “China is home to the largest number of our hotels outside of North America, and more importantly, it comprises the largest portion of our pipeline outside of the United States.”
The bold Chinese move comes at a challenging time for Starwood, a White Plains-based company that focuses on the upper-end market through such brands as Sheraton, Westin and St. Regis. The company’s profits plunged 46 percent during the fourth quarter as the global financial and economic crisis worsened. The biggest problem for the hotel industry is that business and leisure travelers are booking fewer hotel stays in uncertain times.
Despite the economic questions, Starwood today announced the addition of five new Chinese hotels to its existing portfolio of 47 properties in the rapidly developing country. The new properties include the first St. Regis resort in Sanya; the first St. Regis hotel in Chengdu, Sichuan; the first Sheraton hotels in Jiangyin and Dalian; and a second Sheraton resort in Huizhou, Guangdong.
In 2008, Starwood opened eight new hotels in China.