(Berlin, Germany) -- Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide just announced March 6th at the International Hotel Investment Forum in Berlin that they will open 25 new hotels in Europe over the next four years. The company is already off to a strong start this year, opening two new flagship hotels in Europe with a W hotel in Paris and a Le Méridien hotel in Istanbul.
Globally, Starwood plans to open 80 new hotels in 2012, building on a year of record growth with 112 new hotel deals in 2011, the highest number since before the global economic crisis.
Even against a backdrop of uncertainty, Starwood's pipeline of both managed and franchised deals for all nine brands in Europe is healthy and expected to grow in 2012, said Simon Turner, President of Global Development for Starwood.
Turner added, "Eastern and Central Europe are particularly fertile ground for growth, primarily with new-build properties, while we see numerous ongoing conversion opportunities in established markets throughout Europe.
Starwood's growth in Europe is being accelerated by a focus on key fast-growing markets, including Russia, Ukraine and Turkey. Starwood will double its portfolio in Russia and Ukraine by 2014 with openings in Moscow, Rostov-on-Don, Perm and Kiev. In Turkey, Starwood is expanding its pipeline aggressively with four new hotels opening in a three-year period, including the recent debut of Le Méridien Istanbul Etiler, marking the brand's entrance into the country. With that, Starwood will operate 10 hotels in Turkey under five of its distinct brands.
In just four years, Starwood has grown its global luxury room count by 75 percent. Turning to 2012, more than 60 percent of Starwood's new hotels will be in the luxury and upper-upscale segment.
In Europe, Starwood continues to expand its W Hotels brand into some of the world's most exciting and vibrant destinations. Following the launch of the W brand in Europe just four years ago, Starwood has opened new W hotels in London, Barcelona, St. Petersburg, Istanbul and most recently in Paris with the new W Paris Opéra. The company will open two additional W Hotels in Europe next year with the new W Milan and the brand's first ski resort, W Verbier Retreat & Spa in Switzerland.
Starwood is also making significant investments to enhance its existing luxury portfolio in Europe. The company has invested more than $100 million to renovate and restore some of its most iconic Luxury Collection hotels, including the Grand Hotel in Florence, which re-opened last year as a St. Regis hotel, as well as the Hotel Alfonso XIII in Seville, Hotel Maria Cristina in San Sebastian, Hotel Prince de Galles in Paris and Hotel Gritti Palace in Venice.
The enhancement of the Sheraton brand continues to be a focus with a $6 billion investment in new hotels and renovations of existing Sheraton hotels. In Europe, there is a major renovation of the Sheraton Edinburgh underway, the UK's flagship Sheraton Hotel.
"Starwood continues to grow aggressively in the established as well as the fast-growing European economies utilizing both a managed and franchised operating model," said Roeland Vos, Starwood Hotels & Resorts, Europe, Africa & Middle East. "There is a large landscape of independent hotels ripe for flags and we expect to capture more than our fair share of conversion opportunities across all our nine brands. The recent conversions of the Sheraton Baku in Azerbaijan, the Four Points by Sheraton Barcelona and the upcoming re-branding of the Sheraton Mirasierra Hotel & Spa in Madrid are a testament of this strategy."
Starwood continues to expand its mid-market brands in secondary and tertiary markets around the globe where there is a long runway to grow reliable and affordable hospitality. Accounting for over 25 percent of the company's global development pipeline, Starwood will open its 250th mid-market hotel this year.
Starwood sees great momentum for its Four Points by Sheraton and Aloft brands in Europe with particular demand coming from Germany, Benelux, United Kingdom and Russia.
"We see great opportunities to grow our Four Points by Sheraton and Aloft brands in more mature markets where there is a strong demand for affordable yet innovative hotel brands," said Bart Carnahan, Senior Vice President Acquisition & Development, Starwood Hotels & Resorts, Europe, Africa & Middle East. "In the years to come, we plan to expand these brands throughout Europe with development partners who have a proven track record of success and are looking for a new and exciting growth vehicle.