The FINANCIAL — From the Arabian Hotel Investment Conference (AHIC) in Dubai, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. on May 6 announced it will double its portfolio in the Middle East, aggressively expanding its luxury, upper upscale and mid-market brands with plans to open 50 hotels by 2019.
Reaffirming its growth commitment to the region, the company has signed five new projects under its Aloft and Element brands in Dubai (UAE), Doha (Qatar) and Muscat (Oman), adding up to a total of seven signed deals to date, according to Starwood.
“Our growth in the region is a result of consistently delivering value to our owners through our distinct lifestyle brands, backed by our loyal guests and the strength of our global platform,” said Michael Wale , President for Starwood, Europe, Africa and Middle East. “2015 has already started on a strong note with seven signed deals announced in the region in less than five months, reflecting the high demand for mid-market brands in the Middle East but also the trust ownership groups have in Starwood.”
Mid-Market Brands Fuel Growth in the Middle East
Starwood’s mid-market brands – Aloft, Four Points by Sheraton and Element – are experiencing unprecedented growth momentum, representing nearly 50% of the company’s pipeline in the region. Spearheaded by Aloft, the company’s mid-market portfolio will more than quadruple by 2019.
Starwood announced five new properties for its rapidly growing Aloft and Element brands, set to open in the next five years:
Aloft Dubai Airport and Element Dubai Airport
Both hotels signed with wasl hospitality and leisure, a subsidiary of wasl Asset Management Group will add over 400 rooms, meeting space and multiple food and beverage outlets near one of the world’s busiest airports, Dubai International Airport.
Aloft Dubai World Central
Located at the entrance of Al Maktoum International Airport and adjacent to the key logistics and aviation districts, Aloft Dubai World Central will feature 150 rooms and over 1,000 square feet in meeting space. Signed with Radar DWC LLC, the hotel will be one of the first to open in Dubai World Central – a purpose-built, master-planned city spanning approximately 145 square kilometers.
Aloft Doha marks the Aloft brand entry to Qatar. The hotel will feature 240 rooms and suites, a ballroom and meeting venues. It will be within easy reach of the Museum of Islamic Art, Education City and the Al Mushreib rejuvenation project in Doha’s downtown area.
In agreement with New Rotana Enterprises, a sister concern of Al Adrak LLC, the signing of Aloft Muscat will introduce the Aloft brand to Oman and help meet the demand for infrastructure development in the country. The hotel will offer 204 rooms and will be located in close proximity to the new Muscat International Airport and the upcoming Oman Convention & Exhibition Centre
Strong Momentum Continues for Upper-Upscale and Luxury Brands
“While our mid-market brands represent half of our development growth in the region, we continue to see strong opportunities to widen the portfolio of our upper-upscale and luxury brands”, said Neil George , Senior Vice President, Development & Acquisitions, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Middle East and Africa. “We remain focused on working with the right partners, on the right properties, in established as well as fast-growing destinations such as the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Lebanon.”
Making up 70% of the company’s current portfolio in the Middle East, Starwood’s upper-upscale brands – Sheraton, Le Méridien and Westin – continue to grow steadily with 13 new projects scheduled to open in the next five years.
Starwood’s luxury footprint will more than double with 10 new hotel openings set to open across the St. Regis, Luxury Collection and W brands by 2019. Representing half of the luxury pipeline, W Hotels will make its entry in key cities across the region including Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Muscat and Amman.
2015/2016 opening highlights:
Three new hotels in Dubai with Al Habtoor City, one of the Middle East’s largest developments. The project will introduce the St. Regis and W Hotels brands to the city along with a new Westin, further strengthening the company’s footprint.
Expansion across other parts of the UAE with Starwood’s first property in Sharjah this year, Sheraton Sharjah Beach Resort & Spa. Further, Abu Dhabi will welcome its second Aloft with the opening of Aloft Al Ain in 2016.
The introduction of the Westin brand in Qatar with the opening of The Westin Doha Hotel & Spa in September.
The launch of The Luxury Collection brand in Lebanon with Grand Hills resort in Broumana, set to open in Q3 of this year.
The company’s return to Iraq after 20 years and introduction of the Sheraton brand with Sheraton Dohuk.
Growth momentum in Saudi Arabia with the introduction of Aloft in Riyadh and Dhahran and the opening of Le Méridien Riyadh.
Two new hotels in Jordan with the openings of The St. Regis Amman and W Amman in 2016, doubling the portfolio and marking the entry for both brands in the country.
Following the recent announcement of its 10th brand, Tribute Portfolio, the company sees many opportunities to introduce the brand in the Middle East. Starwood expects to open 100 Tribute Portfolio hotels globally by 2020.
“There are many independent hotels out there in the four-star category that just don’t fit into one of our other nine brands and we are already seeing great opportunities for Tribute Portfolio in the Middle East,” said Bart Carnahan , Senior Vice President Acquisition & Development, Starwood Hotels & Resorts, Europe, Africa & Middle East. “Tribute Portfolio allows us to offer our loyal SPG members more options and, on the flip side, the developer community access to Starwood’s powerful distribution, loyalty and sales platforms while maintaining their independent spirit.”