Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc., the White Plains-based operator of the Sheraton and Westin chains, is pushing ahead with ambitious expansion plans that include opening 100 new hotels this year.
The company also has established goals to expand its total hotel network by more than 40 percent during the next five years.
The expansion comes at a time when Starwood and other lodging companies are battling a global economic slump. Hotel occupancy has suffered as business and leisure travelers cut back on trips. But despite the tough economy that has contributed to a 59 percent drop in Starwood’s stock price during the past year, the company is not putting its long-term investments on hold.
One key milestone in 2009 will be the opening of the company’s 1,000th hotel.
“By working closely with our development partners, we are able to open high caliber, best-in-class hotels around the world, even during challenging economic times,” Simon Turner, president of global development at Starwood, said in a written statement.
Starwood executives outlined the growth plans today at the American Lodging Investment Summit in San Diego.
International markets, which have been growing faster than the United States in recent years, remain a major focus for Starwood. Sixty percent of the 400 hotels in Starwood’s development pipeline are in international markets.
The “new hotels will further position Starwood and its development partners for long term growth and success,” Turner said.
Revitalizing the Sheraton brand will remain a major focus for Starwood in 2009. As part of a $4 billion revitalization program, Sheraton expects to open 18 hotels in major destinations, including New York City; San Juan, Puerto Rico; Istanbul, Turkey; Prague, Czech Republic; and Qiandao, China. The brand is also scheduled to complete $1.3 billion in renovations at nearly 100 existing hotels.
At Westin Hotels & Resorts, 11 hotels are expected to open this year in Montreal, Mumbai, Shanghai, Mexico City, Houston and other major cities. W Hotels, a Starwood brand that is celebrating its 10th anniversary, expects 13 new properties will debut this year.