Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. (NYSE: HOT) is strengthening its position as a leading international hotel operator in Africa with an existing portfolio of 38 hotels, representing more than 10,000 rooms, the majority of which are operated under Starwood's world-renowned Sheraton(R) and Le Méridien® brands. The company announced today that it will increase its African portfolio by nearly 30% with 10 new hotels set to open over the next three years, adding more than 4,200 guest rooms to the continent and creating thousands of local employment opportunities. Emphasizing the importance of the region as one of the world's fastest-growing hotel and travel markets, CEO Frits van Paasschen and members of Starwood's senior executive team are visiting Africa this week, travelling to key growth markets including Nigeria, Angola and Gabon.
"Home to seven of the world's 10 fastest growing economies, there could not be a better time to expand our footprint in Africa," said Frits van Paasschen, President and CEO, Starwood Hotels & Resorts. "From a vastly improving infrastructure, major investments from China, rapid economic growth, rising personal incomes and a growing middle class - we are seeing exciting changes that are driving the African future and we intend to be a part of it."
Starwood Strengthens Portfolio in Nigeria
At a press conference in Lagos today, van Paasschen shared Starwood's plans to further expand its portfolio in Nigeria, the company's largest growth market on the African continent. Starwood presently operates five hotels in Nigeria, in Abuja, Ibom, Port Harcourt and two hotels in Lagos, under its Sheraton, Le Méridien and Four Points by Sheraton brands. By 2015, Starwood will open three additional hotels in Nigeria, one property in Benin City and two in Lagos.
"Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa and boasts the second-largest economy on the continent, presenting tremendous opportunities for the country to play a key role in our African expansion. With investor-friendly policies in place and on-going economic growth, Nigeria epitomizes the economic ascent of Africa as a development destination," said Simon Turner, President of Global Development & Acquisition, Starwood Hotels & Resorts.
Starwood Expands Africa Footprint
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 and established African countries such as Nigeria, Algeria, Egypt and South Africa. The company is also looking to enter key emerging countries including Angola, the Ivory Coast and Ghana.
As part of this strategy, Starwood is investing in development, sales and the expansion of its Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) program in Africa. By the end of this year, Starwood will double its dedicated development team focused on growth in Africa, underscoring the company's commitment to continued growth in the region.
By 2015, Starwood plans to have nearly 50 hotels in Africa with new hotels confirmed to open in Nigeria, Egypt, Algeria, Libya, Senegal and Mauritius. Key highlights include:
The debut of Starwood's ultra-luxury St. Regis Hotels & Resorts brand in the Africa/Indian Ocean region with the opening of The St. Regis Mauritius Resort & Spa, which opened earlier this month. This will be followed by the debut of the St. Regis brand in Egypt with The St. Regis Cairo, scheduled to open in 2014.
A new hotel under The Luxury Collection brand in Lagos, marking the introduction of the brand into Nigeria. Starwood currently operates five hotels in the country with three additional hotels
slated to open by 2015, making Nigeria Starwood's largest growth market on the African continent.
Further expansion of the company's well-established Sheraton portfolio in Africa with the opening of three new Sheraton hotels in Dakar (Senegal), Annaba (Algeria) and Tripoli (Libya).
Three new Four Points by Sheraton including two in Nigeria and one hotel in Oran, Algeria.
A new Le Méridien hotel in Cairo. The acquisition of Le Méridien in 2005 significantly expanded Starwood's presence in Africa.
In addition to the new hotels in the pipeline, Starwood will re-open three of its African hotels in the next 12 months: The Grand Mauritian, which will re-open next year after a major renovation; the Sheraton Cairo following a major renovation as part of Sheraton's global brand enhancement strategy; and the Four Points by Sheraton Tripoli, which closed last year due to political conflict in Libya.
Sheraton's First-Mover Advantage
With the largest footprint among Starwood's portfolio and one of the world's most recognized hotel brands, Sheraton is often the first international hotel brand to enter markets paving the way for the introduction of other Starwood brands. This holds true in Africa where Starwood first opened the Sheraton Cairo in 1971. Sheraton also led the way for Starwood's entry into other important African countries including Nigeria, Uganda and South Africa. While Starwood is committed to the growth of all of its brands throughout the African continent, Sheraton continues to play a critical role in its development strategy.
Starwood Supports UNICEF with Pre-School Education Projects in Africa
As part of the company's global citizenship initiative, Starwood continues its on-going guest fundraising efforts for UNICEF through the Check-Out-for-Children program, which launched in 1995. Last year, the Check Out for Children program celebrated a remarkable milestone with US$25 million raised through guest donations for children since the launch of the program.
In 2011, Starwood and UNICEF joined forces to put a focus on education through UNICEF's "Schools for Africa" program, supporting quality primary education for more than eight million vulnerable children across 11 Sub-Saharan African countries (Angola, Ethiopia, Malawi, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, South Africa, Madagascar, Mozambique, Rwanda and Zimbabwe).
"We believe that every child has the right to go to school. That is why, together with UNICEF, we have chosen to focus on providing children in need with access to education. We are convinced that for these children education is the door that opens opportunities and will enable them to become fully independent members of society," Roeland Vos, President of Starwood Hotels & Resorts for Europe, Africa & Middle East says.
Starwood CEO and Senior Executives Visit Africa
Underscoring the importance of the region as one of Starwood's fastest-growing hotel and travel markets, van Paasschen and seven members of Starwood's senior executive team are visiting Africa this week. On the trip, Starwood executives will meet with hotel owners, customers, government officials and investors in Nigeria, Gabon and Angola with the goal to further understand, appreciate and ultimately leverage different cultural perspectives and approaches to business. In Angola, they will visit a UNICEF education project to see first-hand how the funds raised through Starwood's Check-Out-For-Children program are helping UNICEF to provide these children with a brighter future in life.
Starwood's African Portfolio
Starwood currently operates 38 hotels in 15 African countries, including: Algeria, Cameroon, Djibouti, Egypt, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Libya, Mauritius, Morocco, Nigeria, Seychelles, South Africa, Tunisia and Uganda.
About Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc.
Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. is one of the leading hotel and leisure companies in the world with 1,128 properties in nearly 100 countries and 154,000 employees at its owned and managed properties. Starwood is a fully integrated owner, operator and franchisor of hotels, resorts and residences with the following internationally renowned brands: St. Regis®, The Luxury Collection®, W®, Westin®, Le Méridien®, Sheraton®, Four Points® by Sheraton, Aloft®, and ElementSM. The Company boasts one of the industry's leading loyalty programs, Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG), allowing members to earn and redeem points for room stays, room upgrades and flights, with no blackout dates. Starwood also owns Starwood Vacation Ownership, Inc., a premier provider of world-class vacation experiences through villa-style resorts and privileged access to Starwood brands. For more information, please visit www.starwoodhotels.com.
(Note: This press release contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of federal securities regulations. Forward-looking statements are not guarantees of future performance or events and involve risks and uncertainties and other factors that may cause actual results or events to differ materially from those anticipated at the time the forward-looking statements are made. These risks and uncertainties are presented in detail in our filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Although we believe the expectations reflected in such forward-looking statements are based upon reasonable assumptions, we can give no assurance that our expectations will be attained or that results and events will not materially differ. We undertake no obligation to publicly update or revise any forward-looking statement, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.)