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.