Hotelier Middle East is reporting that Starwood Hotels & Resorts has identified “great opportunity” for hotel conversions, with the company’s president, global development Simon Turner observing growing “momentum” in this arena.
While in Dubai for the company’s Middle East relocation in March (when Starwood opened the recently reflagged Sheraton Mall of the Emirates, which had previously been run by Accor’s Pullman), Turner said “one of the things we are seeing an awful lot more of is conversion opportunities”.
He said that further conversions would form one part of the group’s growth strategy to open nearly 50 new hotels in Middle East and Africa over the next five years. “There has been a real increase in activity on conversions, particularly in this part of the world and we have just done a Four Points conversion in Riyadh…I have every expectation that that number [of 50 hotels] is going to be achieved,” said Turner.
“Conversions are very attractive propositions from a growth standpoint. It is something we have been thinking very carefully internally over the last couple of years,” Neil George, Vice President, Acquisitions and Development, Africa and Middle East, Starwood Hotels and Resorts, recently told Gulf News.
The company recently announced conversions on three of its brands in the Middle East including Sheraton, Four Points by Sheraton and one in its Luxury Collection portfolio.
An accepted practice in the West, Starwood aims to get at least four to five conversions done this year in the Middle East and Africa region, said George. “We would like to get that target over the next few years. And the UAE will form a chunk of it,” he said.
According to Bart Carnahan, SVP acquisitions and development, Europe, Africa and Middle East, the trend for conversions is just beginning. Starwood president and CEO Frits van Paasschen added that the company “can deliver revenue and economic performance to a property very quickly and the opportunity to do conversions from other brands is a way for hotel owners to improve their returns on their hotels, [so this] is something we want to be comfortable with because it happens not just here but in other parts of the world as well”.
AMEInfo is reporting that that Grand Hills Hotel and Spa in Broumana - an upscale mountain resort town near Beirut, Lebanon - will join Starwood's Luxury Collection portfolio. Owned by Mouawad Village Broumana Sal., Grand Hills, a Luxury Collection Resort will mark the brand's entry into Lebanon when it opens in early 2015 following a complete renovation. Starwood currently operates two hotels in Lebanon: Four Points by Sheraton Le Verdun in Beirut and Four Points by Sheraton Bhamdoun.