Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. announced that it has reached a historic milestone with 103 hotels open and in operation and now another 100 signed hotel deals in the pipeline for Greater China, Starwood’s second largest market outside of the United States.
The announcement was made as part of celebrations at the Sheraton Shanghai Hongkou Hotel on the heels of Starwood’s Asia Pacific Investor Day.
“Our celebration of our more than 100 hotels in operation and 100 hotels in the pipeline marks another significant milestone for Starwood’s growth and development in China as we double our footprint in the region,” said Vasant Prabhu, Vice Chairman and Chief Financial Officer of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. “Our success in China reflects our first mover advantage, the strength of our brands and the entrusted partnerships we have fostered with our developers, partners, and guests since our first landmark debut with The Great Wall Sheraton Hotel in Beijing in 1985.”
Starwood has already opened 11 hotels in China in 2012 and expects to open another 13 hotels by year’s end.
Demand for World Class Hospitality Brands
“With more high end hotels in China today than any of our competitors, our long lead will be enhanced by the record number of new hotels we have in our pipeline,” said Simon Turner, President, Global Development, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. “China continues to present tremendous growth opportunities for Starwood as we drive to introduce our valued, world class brands into new markets that do not yet have a major international branded hotel.”
Sheraton Hotels, in particular, will continue to play a leading role in maintaining Starwood’s premier position in the region, as its growth trajectory is on track to reach 90 hotels in Greater China by 2016. Driven by strong demand in second and third tier cities, Sheraton Hotels is slated to open seven new properties across China, including Changbaishan, Dalian, Huzhou, Hefei, Jiaozhou, Fuzhou and Macao by the end of 2012.
In addition, the Sheraton brand will celebrate its 75th anniversary with another distinguished landmark as the brand opens Starwood’s largest hotel globally, Sheraton Macao Hotel, Cotai Central, which will also become the largest hotel in Macao. Located on Asia’s own bustling Las Vegas strip, Sheraton Macao will open the first phase of its 3,863-room in September 2012 and be fully open by the end of first quarter of 2013. Featuring a main ballroom that is the size of over 11 basketball courts combined, the hotel will offer over 15,000 sq m of meeting space with access to a further 5,000 sq m within the Cotai Central complex. Leisure facilities will include three restaurants, poolside cafes and the world’s largest Sheraton Club. The opening will further strengthen Starwood’s lead as China’s largest luxury and upper-upscale international hotel group.
The Westin brand boasts a pipeline of 11 new hotels set to join its existing portfolio of 16 award-winning properties, including The Westin Bund Center Shanghai and The Westin Guangzhou.
Globally renowned Le Meridien Hotels features 8 hotels in Qingdao, Chongqing, Xiamen, Shanghai, Shimei Bay, Sheshan, Taipei and Hong Kong, with an additional 6 hotels in the pipeline.
The Four Points by Sheraton brand has the company’s second largest development pipeline in China. Benefiting from Sheraton Hotels’ strong brand awareness, sister brand Four Points by Sheraton manages 15 hotels, with another 20 poised to open - primarily in growing second and third tier cities and tertiary markets.
After its debut in Beijing in 2008, Starwood’s new Aloft brand continues to make inroads with 5 hotels in operations and 6 new hotels in the pipeline, making a total of 11 hotels by 2016.
Golden Age of Luxury Travel
The rise in high net worth individuals in China and around the globe has also paved the way for the expansion of Starwood’s luxury brands, St. Regis, The Luxury Collection and W Hotels.
“As demand grows, we are seeing a change in luxury consumption as travelers become more connected, more diverse, and more sophisticated. The same trends can be observed with our Chinese travelers,” said Stephen Ho, President, Asia Pacific, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. “Luxury is no longer a one-size-fits-all proposition. What once was prescribed is now personalized with less formality and more fun. At Starwood, we feel uniquely suited to benefit from these major shifts. With nine luxury hotels operating under our St. Regis, The Luxury Collection and W Hotels in Greater China, and 18 more in the pipeline, we are the true leader in this space.”
Industry innovator W Hotels will debut the first W hotel in mainland China with W Guangzhou by the beginning of 2013. It is also preparing to open another 4 hotels by 2017 in Macau, Beijing, Shanghai and Changsha.
Since its first debut with The Astor Tianjin Hotel in 2008, Starwood’s distinctive The Luxury Collection brand will have quadrupled its footprint by the end of 2012 with the openings of The Hongta Hotel, Twelve at Hengshan in Shanghai, and The Royal Begonia on Hainan Island, China’s first resort in The Luxury Collection brand. Five more hotels are scheduled to debut under The Luxury Collection brand by 2016 in key cities including Dalian, Hangzhou, Suzhou, Xiamen and Nanning.
After a growth spurt of three openings in 2011, including hotels in Shenzhen, Sanya, and Tianjin, St. Regis has fast become a favorite for visiting heads of state and celebrities. With current presence in Beijing, Lhasa, Sanya and Shenzhen, St. Regis will debut more than six hotels in Changsha, Macau, Chengdu, Lijiang, Zhuhai and Nanjing.
Demand for upper-upscale hotel brands in resort destinations are also on the rise, as a limited supply of rooms in popular destinations are being outstripped by the growing numbers of Chinese luxury travelers.
“Our portfolio of distinct brands and our brand recognition across China and around the world, allows us to enter multiple resort destinations like Hainan, leveraging collective local scale without cannibalizing business, so we get more than our share of new business,” said Qian Jin, President, Greater China, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. “Home to seven properties in Hainan, Starwood is set to open five more hotels by the end of 2014 to respond to growing demand. Demand for resort destinations also extends from tropical getaways such as Hainan. In July, Starwood will open its first dual-branded ski resort - the Westin and Sheraton Changbaishan.”
Building Entrusted Partnership across Industries
China is the richest source of new Starwood guests around the globe. To date, more than half of Starwood’s guests in China are Chinese nationals - a figure that is expected to rise as the loyalty base of the award-winning Starwood Preferred Guest program continues to grow.
“We’ve seen Chinese enrollment in Starwood Preferred Guest membership jump over 62 percent by tailoring SPG offerings to meet the needs of local travelers,” said Qian. “Success of growing our loyalty base in China is underpinned by the entrusted partnerships we have built across industries from sports, airlines, financial services, and food & beverage to entertainment, and this allows us to extend lifestyle benefits and loyalty beyond reasons to our guests.”
Frequent flyer programs in partnership with Starwood Preferred Guest in Greater China include: Cathay Pacific’s Asia Miles, China Eastern Airlines’ Eastern Miles, Air China’s Phoenix Miles and China Southern Airlines’ Sky Pearl Club.
Another important partnership is with Pegasus Solutions and TravelSky Technology Limited, China’s state-owned global distribution system (GDS). This vital alliance makes Starwood’s growing portfolio of over 1,100 hotels worldwide available to 7,000 travel agents in China.
“Our goal is to offer greater convenience and ease the ways our customers do business with us,” added Qian. “Our hotels in China will continue to reap the rewards of domestic and inbound travel, and our global portfolio will tap growing outbound demand through the Pegasus/TravelSky connection.”
Adding 10,000 Local Jobs per Year and Committed to Nurturing Talent
With nearly 30 years of legacy in China, Starwood is committed to nurturing local talent, hiring and training staff wherever new hotels and resorts are opened, and enriching local communities. Starwood now employs over 38,000 associates in Greater China, and expects to increase that number by 10,000 jobs per year based on the current expansion rate of 23 new hotels a year on average.
An increasing number of hotel General Managers are of Chinese descent - 29 compared to only four in 2009 - with many executives returning from overseas to take up senior positions. Also, the total number of Chinese associates at managerial levels has more than doubled since 2009 to 2,577, in line with the doubling of Starwood’s portfolio of hotels in the country.