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Tue 3 May 2011 05:29 PM

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Starwood hotels hit by unrest in Libya, Bahrain

US hotel operator to press ahead with MENA hotel launches despite political turmoil

Starwood hotels hit by unrest in Libya, Bahrain
Starwood counts the Le Méridien Al Aqah in Fujairah among its 63 properties in the MENA region

Starwood Hotels & Resorts, the US-based hotel chain, said occupancy rates in its Bahrain
properties tumbled to as low as five percent following widespread unrest in the
Gulf kingdom.

The
company, which operates 63 properties in the MENA region and plans to open 41
more by 2014, has also been hit by uprisings in Libya, where it oversees two hotels.

We
are in the heart of the city in Bahrain so we fall within the curfew zones and
yes we are down to those levels [of occupancy],” said Neil George, vice
president acquisitions and development.

“Our
focus is on making sure our associates are safe, the building is safe and our
assets are safe and our guests are safe.”

In
Tripoli, the Four Points Sheraton is under “lock and key” while the
under-construction Sheraton Tripoli, scheduled to open in September 2012, will “most
likely be delayed”.

The
company said Monday it would press ahead with hotel openings in countries such
as Egypt, Syria and Jordan, despite ongoing turmoil in the region.

“We
have 50 hotels today in the Middle East, 66 if you take the Middle East and North
Africa and over the next few years we will probably add 25 more, that are
already signed and under construction.,” George said. “We want to expand in
markets where we see further potential, markets like Saudi Arabia and Pakistan.”

According
to the company’s website, Starwood will open one hotel in Amman in 2015, three
in Muscat in 2014, two in Pakistan in 2014 and two in Doha by the end of 2012.

A
deal to operate a 220-room in Sharjah, signed on Sunday, will form part of
eight Starwood launches in the UAE over the next two years.

The
New York-based company told Bloomberg Sunday that occupancy rates across its 15
properties in Dubai has been about 88 percent this year. Room rates rose 10
percent to 20 percent at Starwood’s beach properties over the last two years.

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