US hotelier Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide is to open 50 new properties across the Middle East and Africa over the next five years, representing 60 percent growth in its existing regional portfolio.
The operator, which has moved its global headquarters to Dubai for one month, said that the expansion will add 14,000 guest rooms and create thousands of new jobs.
Starwood’s expansion plans include opening 12 new properties in the UAE, of which six are in Dubai; six new hotels in Saudi Arabia by 2015; three launches in the Iraqi Kurdistan city of Irbil; and the launch of the company’s Aloft Hotels brand in both Saudi and Iraq.
The company did not provide figures on how much Starwood was investing in the region, but indicated that some of the new properties would be conversions of existing hotels.
“Starwood continues to see demand for growth of all of our brands across the Middle East and Africa despite economic and political uncertainty in some parts of this incredibly diverse region,” said Frits van Paasschen, President and CEO, Starwood.
“Rapid economic growth, rising personal incomes, a growing middle class and ever greater global connectivity are driving new travel patterns and demand for travel, and this region is at the centre of these trends and a key focus of our growth strategy,” he added.
Later this year, Starwood will open a property under its luxury St Regis Hotels & Resorts brand on Abu Dhabi corniche, with another set to also open in the Egyptian capital Cairo.
W Hotels, Starwood’s design-led brand, will see six new properties, including three in Dubai and one each in Abu Dhabi, Muscat and Amman by 2017.
Earlier this month, Starwood said it would move its management team to Dubai until April 5. During its time based in the emirate, the hotelier said senior executives will seek to meet with associates, customers, owners and prospective developers in the UAE and also take advantage of Dubai's location for business travel to destinations including Mumbai, Addis Ababa, Jeddah, Dushanbe and Kuwait.