Starwood to add nearly 1,500 rooms in Saudi holy city

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Frits van Paasschen, Starwood president and CEO. (Photo for illustrative purposes only)

Frits van Paasschen, Starwood president and CEO. (Photo for illustrative purposes only)

Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide has signed an agreement with Jabal Omar Development Company to open three new hotels in the Holy City of Makkah.

As part of the Jabal Omar Development project, Starwood will add 1,496 rooms to the city under the company's Sheraton, Westin and Four Points by Sheraton brands when the hotels open in 2015.

Starwood currently operates 10 properties in Saudi Arabia, the second largest market for the company in the Middle East behind the UAE.

"We are delighted to work with Jabal Omar Development Company as we introduce the Sheraton, Westin and Four Points by Sheraton brands to the holy city of Makkah," said Michael Wale, president, Starwood Hotels & Resorts, Europe, Africa and Middle East in a statement.

"As business travel and religious tourism continue to expand in Saudi Arabia, we believe the time is right to expand our portfolio in the country."

Abdul Rahman Abdul Qadir Fakieh, chairman of Jabal Omar Development Company, added: "We are excited to partner with Starwood to bring three of their world-class brands to Makkah. We believe the addition of these hotels is in line with the goal of the Jabal Omar Development to improve and urbanise the central area surrounding Al Haram and provide much needed facilities and accommodations for pilgrims."

Al Haram, the Jabal Omar Development, is a 230,000 sq m mixed-use development in Makkah comprised of 38 high-rise buildings. With 26 hotels and over 11,000 rooms, the complex is one of the largest hotel developments in the world.

The Sheraton Makkah Hotel will feature 532 guest rooms and suites while the Westin Makkah Hotel will offer 513 keys and Four Points by Sheraton Makkah Hotel will add a further 451.

"This landmark project, featuring three of our lifestyle brands, marks an important milestone for Starwood in the Middle East," said Bart Carnahan, senior vice president Acquisitions & Development, Starwood Hotels & Resorts, Europe, Africa and Middle East.

"With eight hotels in the pipeline in the next three years, we are set to nearly double our portfolio in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia."

The group operates close to 50 hotels and resorts across the Middle East under eight of the company's nine distinct lifestyle brands.

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