By Beatrice Thomas
In September it will open its 15th Dubai hotel, making the emirate its second biggest market after New York City
Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide has revealed plans to open 35 hotels in the Middle East in the next three years, expanding its portfolio to over 80 hotels worldwide.
Making the announcement at the Arabian Hotel Investment Conference (AHIC), the hospitality group said Monday it would open seven new hotels in the Middle East this year in the UAE, Iraq and Bahrain.
Starwood has 46 hotels and more than 13,000 rooms in the Middle East and the region is key to its global expansion strategy and continued to be one of the company’s most rapidly growing markets, it said.
“Rising wealth and ever greater global connectivity are driving new travel patterns and demand for travel, creating a once-in-a-lifetime growth opportunity for our industry,” said president & CEO Frits van Paasschen.
“With Starwood’s long-established presence, local teams and strong relationships in the Middle East, which we further deepened during last year’s month-long re-location of our headquarters to Dubai, we are uniquely positioned to take advantage of these trends.”
Earlier this year, Starwood marked its entry into the Emirate of Ajman with the opening of Ajman Saray, a Luxury Collection Resort.
This September it will open a Sheraton hotel on Sheikh Zayed Road, marking Starwood’s 15th hotel in Dubai, the company’s second largest hotel market behind only New York City, which has 21 hotels.
It said the UAE was the largest growth market for the company in the Middle East with plans for more than 30 Starwood hotels by 2017.
Starwood currently has 10 hotels in Saudi Arabia with another eight properties in the pipeline. Upcoming openings in the kingdom include three new hotels in Makkah – Sheraton, Westin and Four Points by Sheraton – adding nearly 1,500 rooms to the Holy City. The Aloft brand will debut in Saudi Arabia with Aloft Riyadh in 2015, the company said.
In Iraq, Starwood will re-enter Iraq after two decades with the milestone opening of Sheraton Dohukin in October. Starwood will also open three hotels in Erbil under its Sheraton, Aloft and Four Points by Sheraton brands by 2017.
The company said following last year’s conversions of Sheraton Dubai Mall of the Emirates and Four Points by Sheraton Riyadh Khaldia, the company will unveil three new conversions in 2014. Opening in July, The Westin Bahrain City Centre and Le Méridien Bahrain City Centre will mark the debut of both brands in Bahrain. Grand Hills, a Luxury Collection Resort, Broumana will be the first Luxury Collection hotel in Lebanon when it opens in November after an extensive renovation.
It also planned five more W Hotels across the Middle East, including two in Dubai and one each in Abu Dhabi, Muscat and Amman in the next few years. These, together with upcoming St. Regis and Luxury Collection hotels, will more than double Starwood’s luxury footprint in the region by 2017.
The company will more than double its mid-market portfolio in the region with openings including the addition of six new Aloft hotels across Iraq, Saudi Arabia and the UAE.For all the latest travel news from the UAE and Gulf countries, follow us on Twitter and Linkedin, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube page, which is updated daily.