From: Reuters
Published April 7, 2008 11:02 AM

Starwood plans global expansion of Sheraton brand

By Mark McSherry

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc <HOT.N> on Monday announced a global expansion of the Sheraton chain, its largest brand.

Starwood said Sheraton Hotels & Resorts would open 54 new hotels and add 20,000 new rooms by next year. Sheraton currently has 406 hotels and resorts in 71 countries.

Sheraton's growth plan will include an investment of $2 billion in new hotel openings in North America as part of the initiative to revitalize the brand.

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This year, Starwood said, Sheraton will open one hotel every 12 days around the world, in locations that include Dallas, Denver, Minneapolis, Phoenix and Washington, as well as Ireland, Argentina, Egypt and China.

Sheraton will also add three new resorts -- two in China and one in Carlsbad, California.

Next year, the Sheraton brand will expand in New York City, with plans to open two newly constructed properties in Brooklyn and Manhattan's Tribeca area.

"Sheraton is embarking on an aggressive and exciting growth plan unlike any in our storied history," said Hoyt Harper, senior vice president for Sheraton Hotels and Resorts.

BIG BOX

Starwood said that by the end of 2010, Sheraton will expand in North America, Europe, the Middle East and Asia and increase its portfolio by almost 70 properties.

The expansion plans include at least six "big box" hotels, including the Sheraton Macau with more than 4,000 rooms and over 271,000 square feet of meeting space.

Sheraton also plans to upgrade 100 hotels in the United States, renovate 50,000 guestrooms in North America and redesign more than 100 lobbies through an investment of $1.3 billion in renovations and $400 million in brand initiatives.

Starwood, which also owns the St. Regis, W Hotels and Le Meridien brands, on January 31 posted a drop in quarterly profit and cut its 2008 forecast because of the slowing U.S. economy, but the results beat estimates.

(Reporting by Mark McSherry; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn and Dave Zimmerman)

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