At the 2013 American Lodging Investment Summit (ALIS) in Los Angeles this yesterday (Jan 21 local time), Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide revealed it opened 23 hotels in North America in 2012 and signed more new deals than in the previous two years, including 21 conversions.

Starwood’s President of Global Development, Simon Turner, said looking ahead to 2013, the company anticipates its strongest year of openings in North America since before the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) with 28 scheduled openings.

He said conversions would continue to fuel growth with in-the-year conversions expected to result in additional new hotel openings this year.

“North America remains our largest market with 576 hotels and saw more hotels signed in 2012 than any other region in our vast network,” he said.

“We have opened over 135 new hotels in North America since the global economic crisis and expect pent up demand and limited new supply to continue to drive our growth in 2013.”

Starwood’s ‘Specialty Select’ or Mid-Market brands – Four Points by Sheraton, Aloft and Element – are expected to continue charging across North America in 2013.

The fast-growing Four Points by Sheraton brand is expected to surpass 120 hotels in North America and 190 globally in 2013. Over the past five years, the Four Points by Sheraton portfolio has surged by 15 per cent in North America and the brand is now Starwood’s third largest with the second-biggest global pipeline.

Aloft is also set for a big year (pictured above is Aloft San Francisco Airport). This year, the brand will open its milestone 50th property in North America and 75th globally and is on track to open nearly three times as many rooms this year as in 2012. Over the past three years, Aloft has grown its global portfolio by 67 per cent and is expected to expand by another 25 per cent in 2013. Aloft also signed eight deals in North America and an additional 17 globally during 2012, the highest number since 2008.

Element, Starwood’s stylish and sustainable brand will open its first property outside the U.S this year with Element Vaughan Southeast in Ontario, Canada, to be followed by the debut of the brand in Europe in 2014.

“There are a number of positive trends in the North American hospitality market and we expect more than one-third of Starwood’s hotel openings around the world to be in the U.S. and Canada in 2013,” said Starwood’s Senior Vice President of North America Development, Allison Reid.

“Our strong brands, global scale and presence, powerful systems and growing base of loyal customers continue to set Starwood apart from our competition. We are seeing increased interest among owners in initiating new hotels with Starwood especially around conversions.”

Starwood’s upper-upscale brands – Le Méridien, Westin and Sheraton – will also see sustained North America expansion in 2013. After significant brand investment and transformation, Le Méridien is experiencing strong growth momentum, with eight new hotel openings globally slated for 2013. Conversions continue to serve as a growth opportunity for Le Méridien, with recent conversion hotels having opened in Mexico City and Arlington, Virginia.

Westin will open four hotels in 2013 in the U.S: The Westin Birmingham, The Westin San Jose, The Westin Sacramento, and The Westin Houston Downtown, the fourth Westin in that city. And Sheraton, Starwood’s largest brand in North America, is set to enter the Dominican Republic in 2014 with the Sheraton Santo Domingo and the brand will also debut this year at Pittsburgh Airport. The company also recently announced that a new boutique hotel affiliated with the Sheraton brand will be developed adjacent to Wrigley Field, home of the Chicago Cubs.

Starwood also announced at ALIS it would build on one of the strongest North America luxury portfolios in the industry with its St. Regis, The Luxury Collection, and W Hotels brands.

In 2012, the company signed The St. Anthony, A Luxury Collection Hotel, San Antonio – an external conversion set to open in 2014 as the second Luxury Collection property in Texas. With 85 hotels in nearly 30 countries, The Luxury Collection remains Starwood’s largest luxury brand and has increased its global footprint by 70 per cent since 2007.

James Wilkinson

Editor-In-Chief, Hotel Management