STAMFORD, Conn.—Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide announced that it will increase its operating hotel footprint in Latin America by 50 percent during the next five years, opening an average of seven new hotels per year in the region. Emphasizing Latin American’s growth potential as one of the world’s fastest growing hotel and travel markets, Starwood’s President and CEO Frits van Paasschen and members of the company’s senior executive team visited Latin America last week, traveling to key growth markets, including Brazil and Colombia.
“Macro-economic trends continue to reshape the Latin American travel and business landscape, creating strong growth in lodging demand and many opportunities for Starwood to expand in the region,” said van Paasschen. “At the same time, Latin America’s middle class grew by 50 percent in the last decade and this increase in wealth means that there are more and more people with the means to travel and an increasing appetite for global, luxury brands like ours.”
In the last two years the company opened 13 hotels, including its debut in Costa Rica with Westin Playa Conchal, Starwood’s first all-inclusive hotel in the world, the recent opening of Sheraton da Bahia Hotel in Salvador, Brazil, and the opening of new flagships including W Santiago, The Westin Lima Hotel and Convention Center, St. Regis Mexico City and Sheraton Bijao in Panama- the first Sheraton branded all-inclusive hotel in the world.
Starwood has a pipeline of 19 hotels with a total of 3,200 new rooms in development. In the remainder of 2013, Starwood expects to open six more hotels with a total of 1,100 rooms, covering four brands across four countries.
“Latin America is emblematic of the growth we are seeing in regions around the world and key to our development plans,” said Simon Turner, president of global development and acquisition for Starwood Hotels and Resorts. “There is strong affinity for all of our brands in the region across the luxury, upper upscale and mid-market segments, and we’re looking to build on this interest with new world-class hotels in the right places, with the right partners.”
Underscoring the importance of Brazil, van Paasschen and members of Starwood’s senior executive team met with hotel owners, customers, and investors in Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, Recife, and Salvador to evaluate new projects. They also visited the Sheraton Rio Hotel and Resort in Rio de Janeiro, one of Starwood’s most valuable owned-assets in the region. In 2012, the hotel began a multi-million dollar renovation project that is part of Sheraton Hotels & Resorts’ ongoing commitment to enhance its global portfolio. Renovations are expected to be complete by the second quarter of next year.
“There is significant opportunity for hotel development in Brazil due to its sheer size, natural beauty, and relative under penetration, particularly at the high end. We want to bring our skills and expertise at operating high-quality branded hotels to this dynamic market, and believe rising rates and occupancies, and clear pent up demand for travel, make this a promising time to pursue growth opportunities,” added van Paasschen.
Starwood executives also spent time in Colombia meeting with owners and partners and visiting the site of the future W Bogota, which will mark the brand’s entry into the country. In the past years, Colombia has made steps to enhance its economy and hotel infrastructure, becoming an attractive destination for foreign investment and international hotel brands. Starwood has been present in Colombia for almost 20 years, and today, the company has several exciting projects in the pipeline, including Four Points by Sheraton Bogota, Sheraton Cartagena Hotel, and W Bogota—all slated to open in 2014.
“We believe that Colombia is a country ripe with opportunities for growth and we plan to expand our brands in the major cities and secondary markets in the years to come with development partners who have a proven track record of success and are looking for a new and exciting growth vehicle,” van Paasschen concluded.