WHITE PLAINS, N.Y., Feb 27, 2003 (BUSINESS WIRE)—Five years ago, a small hotel company called Starwood Lodging became a global giant when it acquired behemoth ITT Corporation just a few months after acquiring Westin Hotels & Resorts.
Overnight, Starwood Lodging catapulted from a minor player with a hodge podge of hotels to a Fortune 500 company with more than 700 hotels worldwide including famous brands Sheraton, Westin, The Luxury Collection and Four Points by Sheraton plus some of the world`s most illustrious properties such as The St. Regis, The Gritti Palace, and the Hotel Cala di Volpe. And so, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. (NYSE:HOT) was born.
In just five years, Starwood has made its mark on the hotel industry. Today it is the world`s largest hotel company as measured by EBITDA and has pioneered a number of hotel industry firsts as well as launched two new lauded hotel brands in its short history.
“I founded Starwood to be an innovative, people focused, opportunistic company that accepts and embraces change but even I am surprised and quite proud of all we`ve accomplished in five years,” said Barry Sternlicht, Starwood`s founder and Chairman and CEO of Starwood. “I am particularily thrilled that we`ve launched two of the most acclaimed hotel brands in the world, as well as continue to markedly improve each of our established brands. We are a young company with soul, fresh ideas and a global footprint, and I can`t wait to see what we accomplish in the next five years!”
Some Starwood highlights from the past five years include:—The debut of W Hotels, regarded by many as the most successful new brand in hotel history. The first W opened in December of 1998. Today there are 20 hotels open or under construction and the company expects to have 50 within the next five years. W Hotels, which combines the style and attitude of boutique hotels with the service and reliability of established business hotels, is a favorite of celebrities, athletes, and business travelers alike. Since its launch, the W brand and its hotels have won numerous awards, and a recent study by Marketing Metrix of frequent travelers found that W is the hotel brand with the highest customer loyalty, beating out even venerable brands Ritz Carlton and Four Seasons.—The launch of the St. Regis brand, inspired by the world famous St. Regis Hotel in New York. The world`s newest luxury brand, the St. Regis has gone from one hotel in 1998 to more than a dozen today, and many of the brand`s hotels have quickly climbed to the top of traveler`s choice awards in magazines like Conde Nast Traveler and Travel + Leisure.—The creation of Starwood Preferred Guest, the company`s loyalty program, which caused a commotion when it debuted in 1999 with its breakthrough standard of no blackout dates or capacity controls, meaning travelers can redeem their frequent stay points anytime, anywhere - a hotel industry first. Popular from the start, Starwood Preferred Guest has won the prestigious Freddie Awards` “Program of the Year” title for the last three years running. In 2002, Starwood Preferred Guest swept an unprecedented 13 of 16 awards at the Freddies.—The purchase of Starwood Vacation Ownership—formerly Vistana (NASDQ listed VSTN)—the company`s vacation ownership company, has always been and is expected to remain an important engine of growth and competitive advantage for the company.—The debut of Westin`s Heavenly Bed, an all-white, downy, multi-layered bed that put to rest the conventional wisdom that hotels were best served cutting corners on the beds. An instant hit, Westin`s Heavenly Bed resulted in increased guest satisfaction scores, average daily rates and market share at Westin hotels, and has been widely imitated but never duplicated, ever since. The Heavenly Bed and other new products including the Heavenly Bath, as well as a new design scheme for the brand, have catapulted Westin from the Upscale hotel category to the Upper-Upscale tier, and the brand has been named the number one Upper Upscale brand by readers of Business Travel News in the magazine`s most recent poll.—Since the acquisition of ITT, Starwood and it`s partners have invested several hundred million dollars renovating the Sheraton portfolio, and recently introduced, building on the success of W and Westin, the Sheraton Sweet Sleeper Beds. Stricter enforcement of Sheraton brand standards have resulted in significant increases in guest satisfaction and the departure of dozens of hotels that were unable or unwilling to meet the brand`s quality controls. In addition, in 2002, the brand was the first upscale hotel brand to offer a radical proposition - a satisfaction guarantee, called the Sheraton Service Promise.—During the last five years, Starwood has sold $7.3 billion in assets including exiting the Caesar`s gaming business.—Since 1998, Starwood has boasted more hotels on Conde Nast Traveler`s coveted Gold List of the “best places to stay” than any hotel company in the world.—With the acquisitions of ITT and Westin, Starwood is the world`s most global hotel company, with more upscale hotels on every continent except North America.
“But perhaps the accomplishment I am most proud of is the culture we have built in Starwood in five years,” said Sternlicht. “Great companies are built on great people and I am gratified that in our 2002 management surveys, 96% of our associates said they were proud to be part of Starwood, 95% said they would stay with us for several years and 90% would recommend Starwood to their friends as an excellent place to work. We have made great strides with our diversity initiatives, attracting and retaining our best talent, and our company and hotels around the globe continue to enthusiastically give back to our communities.”
Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. is one of the leading hotel and leisure companies in the world with more than 750 properties in more than 80 countries and 110,000 employees at its owned and managed properties. With internationally renowned brands, Starwood is a fully integrated owner, operator and franchisor of hotels and resorts including: St. Regis, The Luxury Collection, Sheraton, Westin, Four Points by Sheraton, W brands, as well as Starwood Vacation Ownership, Inc., one of the premier developers and operators of high-quality vacation interval ownership resorts. For more information, please visit www.starwood.com.