Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc. has announced that it is strengthening its position as the leading hotel operator across the Middle East and Africa (MEA) region by increasing its MEA portfolio by more than 60% with nearly 50 new hotels set to open over the next five years, adding more than 14,000 guest rooms to the region while creating thousands of local employment opportunities.
The company has an existing portfolio of 82 hotels, representing nearly 22,000 guest rooms, the majority of which are operated under Starwood’s Sheraton and Le Méridien brands.
With over 20 hotels expected to open by the end of 2015, Starwood is on track to reach a milestone 100 hotels across MEA. This development is said to further underscore the importance of the region as one of Starwood’s fastest growing hotel and travel markets.
Earlier, the company relocated its global headquarters from Stamford, Connecticut to Dubai for a month-long immersion.
With more than 70% of the world’s economic growth coming from fast-growing markets over the next few years, Starwood is focused on expansion in developing MEA markets such as the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Egypt, Senegal, South Africa and Nigeria. The company is also focused on growth opportunities in key emerging markets including Iraq, Pakistan, Angola, Ghana, the Ivory Coast and East Africa.
By 2017, Starwood will operate more than 130 hotels in MEA, marking some key milestones, including a portfolio growth of over 60% in the UAE with 12 new hotels, including six in Dubai, bringing Starwood’s portfolio to more than 30 hotels across the country. Starwood’s growth plans in the UAE also include expansion into Sharjah and Ajman.
Across Saudi Arabia, six new hotels are slated to open by 2015 bringing Starwood’s portfolio to 15 hotels in this developing market.
Also eyed is the re-entry of Starwood into Iraq with the milestone signings of three hotels across three brands in the city of Erbil, located in the re-emerging Kurdistan area of the country.
Other developments are eyed in Nigeria, with two new Starwood hotels, under the company’s Four Points by Sheraton brand; Algeria, with a new Sheraton hotel in Annaba and Four Points by Sheraton in Oran; and the launch of Starwood’s Aloft Hotels brand in Saudi Arabia and Iraq.
In 2011, Starwood introduced its ultra-luxury St. Regis Hotels & Resorts brand in the region with the opening of The St. Regis Saadiyat Island in Abu Dhabi. This was followed by last year’s debuts of The St. Regis Doha and The St. Regis Mauritius, marking the entry of the brand into Qatar and Africa. This year, Starwood will unveil a second St. Regis hotel on Abu Dhabi’s vibrant Corniche, making it the only city in the world to boast two St. Regis hotels. The brand will soon enter the Egyptian market with the opening of The St. Regis Cairo.