Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. welcomed its top 100 global executives to Dubai, United Arab Emirates for the company’s annual leadership conference. This marks the first time the leadership conference is held in the Middle East, underscoring the importance of the region as one of Starwood’s fastest-growing hotel and travel markets. In another bold move to emphasize Starwood’s approach to cultivating a more global culture, the company announced that it will relocate its U.S.-based headquarters to the Middle East in 2013 for a month-long managerial endeavor.
Starwood is the leading luxury hotel operator in the Middle East with an existing portfolio of nearly 50 hotels in 11 countries under eight of Starwood’s nine brands. The company is increasing its long-established lead here with another 30 hotels in the pipeline. This growth, primarily in the luxury and upper-upscale segments, represents an increase of more than 50% over the next five years. In the emirate of Dubai, Starwood currently operates 15 hotels, which is the largest concentration of Starwood hotels in any single city outside New York. The company has announced plans to unveil another five new hotels in Dubai by 2017, including the debuts of the W and St. Regis brands in the emirate.
“With hotels in 100 countries and 80% of our future pipeline outside of North America, Starwood is the world’s most global high-end hotel company, perfectly positioned to capitalize on an ever growing global marketplace,” said Starwood President and CEO, Frits van Paasschen. “Dubai is emblematic of how globalization is creating new travel patterns and travel hubs, and serves as a crossroad between the emerging and developed worlds.”
Starwood Relocates Global Headquarters to Dubai
In 2013, Starwood will temporarily relocate its Senior Leadership Team from the company’s U.S.-based headquarters to the Middle East for a month-long managerial endeavor. During the relocation, Starwood President & CEO Frits van Paasschen and more than a dozen of the company’s top executives will be headquartered in Dubai where they will conduct day-to-day business on an eight-hour time difference with their “usual” home office in Stamford, Connecticut.
During what van Paasschen describes as “an unconventional effort to understand, appreciate and ultimately leverage different cultural perspectives and approaches to business,” Starwood’s team will delve into the company’s extensive operations throughout the Middle East, meeting with regional customers, partners, developers and owners, while also touring new properties throughout the region.
Building upon the success of Starwood’s 2011 headquarters relocation to China, the company has selected the UAE because of its significant footprint, pipeline and growth potential, plus the region’s popularity as a business and leisure travel destination as well as its growing importance as an outbound travel market.
“Our brands resonate well with Middle Eastern guests and the fact that our brands reflect the various lifestyle aspirations of our guests allows us to further penetrate this market,” continued van Paasschen. “This is only possible because we have long standing teams in place who have a deep understanding of the Middle East’s complex dynamics and strong relationships with some of the region’s most influential investors.”