Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. (NYSE: HOT) today announced that, despite ongoing macroeconomic and geo-political uncertainty, 2012 was a year of the most deal signings since before the global economic crisis. Before year-end, the company expects to have signed in excess of 125 new hotel management and franchise agreements, surpassing last year's deal signings by approximately 13 percent.
By year end 2012, Starwood expects to have opened 71 new hotels, representing approximately 18,500 rooms in 20 countries, strengthening its global lead and expanding its footprint particularly in developing markets. Since 2007, Starwood has added over 100,000 gross new hotel rooms to its system.
"Starwood's nine highly sought-after brands, powerful systems, unmatched portfolio and established local operating teams around the globe set us apart from our competition and position us well for sustained balanced footprint growth in both mature and developing markets," said Simon Turner, President of Global Development. "Our agile and creative development approach allows us to adapt our growth strategies based on specific geographic markets or brand needs. 2012 was a year of strong deal momentum for us throughout the world and we are encouraged by a continued high level of developer interest in working with Starwood."
Frits van Paasschen, President and CEO of Starwood, added: "Rising wealth and a growing middle class around the world are creating new demand for infrastructure, including new hotels, and Starwood is well positioned to take advantage of these trends. Our annual deal signings have increased progressively since 2009. Furthermore, the size of our overall cumulative pipeline and the quality of developers, projects and commercial terms are the finest they have ever been in the company's history."
Starwood's pipeline in developing markets is at the highest levels ever, including signed hotel deals in the vast majority of the most significant fast-growing economies. For example, notwithstanding recent concerns about the pace of macroeconomic growth in China, Starwood's footprint expansion continues unabated and the company expects to celebrate the opening of its 125th hotel in China in 2013. Starwood also continues to see meaningful, quality growth in mature markets, including sustained, strong levels of hotel conversions. Approximately 20 percent of the deals signed in 2012 were conversions of existing properties, of which 12 opened during the year.
Starwood reinforced its luxury lead with significant openings in 2012. St. Regis experienced one of its strongest years for openings around the globe, including hotels in Bal Harbour in Florida, Mauritius and Doha. The Luxury Collection opened more rooms in one year than ever before in Starwood's history, including two hotels in the Blue Mountains in Australia, Metropole Palace in Serbia, and Twelve at Hengshan in Shanghai. W Hotels also had a strong year of openings with the brand's debut in Paris, Bangkok and Singapore.
Sheraton, Westin and Le Méridien, Starwood's upper upscale brands, enjoyed a strong year of growth with the opening of a flagship Manhattan property, The Westin New York Grand Central, and the addition of nearly 7,000 rooms in China. Openings included the Sheraton Macao Hotel, Cotai Central - the largest Starwood hotel to open worldwide in 2012 and, upon completion, the largest hotel in Macao. Conversions increased during the year in North America and Latin America, and included the openings of The Westin Lake Las Vegas, Le Méridien Arlington, The Westin Snowmass Resort, Sheraton Vitoria in Brazil, and Le Méridien Mexico City in Mexico, among others.
Starwood's mid-market brands, Four Points by Sheraton, Aloft and Element, saw the most openings since 2009. In 2012, the company opened the largest number of Four Points by Sheraton hotel rooms in over 10 years. Aloft saw a meaningful increase in signings, with strong conversion momentum, including the opening of hotels at San Francisco Airport and in Nashville. Aloft also opened in new global markets, including Zhengzhou Zhengdong in China, the company's fifth Aloft in China, and San Jose in Costa Rica, the company's second Aloft in Latin America and first in Costa Rica. Element made its South Florida debut with a new hotel at the Miami International Airport. Starwood expects its robust mid-market portfolio growth to continue in 2013 and will celebrate the opening of its milestone 250th hotel early in the year.
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.