Outpacing the competition in India, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. (NYSE: HOT) today announced it will open nearly 20 additional hotels in this fast-growing market by 2015. With a legacy in India that dates back to 1973, Starwood currently operates 33 hotels in India and is the largest international hotel operator of four and five star hotels in India. In fact, since 2009, Starwood has opened nearly as many hotels in India as rivals Hyatt, Hilton and Marriott combined.
In 2012, Starwood will continue its growth momentum from the luxury to mid-market tiers with the opening of ITC Grand Chola, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Chennai, Westin Chennai Velachery, ITC Rajputana, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Jaipur and two Aloft hotels. With the opening of the ITC Grand Chola Rajputana, The Luxury Collection brand will have nine hotels in India, making it the brand’s second largest market behind only the U.S.
“Starwood continues to widen our long-standing lead in India, which is second only to China in terms of our future global growth,” said Vasant Prabhu, Starwood’s Vice Chairman and Chief Financial Officer. “India’s breathtaking economic growth and the rise of its middle class have generated a keen appetite for high-caliber global brands. We expect to accelerate the expansion of all of our brands across India, where demand for new hotels is expected to far exceed supply for the next three years.”
W and St. Regis to Make Landmark Debuts in India
Starwood continues to outpace its rivals in the luxury and upper upscale market. In just four years, Starwood has grown its worldwide luxury room count by 73%, fueled by the popularity of its high-end brands W, St. Regis and The Luxury Collection in diverse global markets. The W brand will arrive in India in 2015 with the opening of the W Mumbai and the W Retreat & Spa Goa, which will be followed by the opening of W Noida, Delhi NCR in 2016. St. Regis will make its entry into India with the opening of The St. Regis Noida, Delhi NCR in 2016. With the landmark debut of the W and St. Regis brands, Starwood will fly eight of its nine brand flags in India including W, St. Regis, The Luxury Collection, Le Méridien, Westin, Sheraton, Four Points by Sheraton and Aloft.
“Indian consumers continue to enjoy double digit growth in per capita income, while the population of high net-worth individuals has grown over 80% in the last five years,” said Dilip Puri, Managing Director India and Regional Vice President of South Asia. “As domestic travel increases and Indian travelers continue to demand more sophistication in terms of both quality and experience, we have significant opportunity to grow our luxury brands.”
Mid-Market Brands, Aloft and Four Points by Sheraton in Demand Across India
Driving portfolio growth in India is the proliferation of Starwood’s Aloft and Four Points by Sheraton brands. Aloft recently doubled its footprint in India with the opening of Aloft Coimbatore and will continue its rapid growth with new hotels opening in Ahmedabad and Chandigarh. Four Points by Sheraton benefits from the halo effect of the powerful Sheraton brand and its long legacy in India, and will add two new hotels in the next two years.
“India’s tech-savvy, younger generation is creating tremendous demand for our popular and affordable Aloft and Four Points by Sheraton brands, which are expanding rapidly in India’s many emerging urban centers,” said Matthew Fry, Senior Vice President, Acquisitions and Development, Starwood Asia Pacific. “Starwood has long-standing relationships with owners and developers across the country and the expertise in delivering a range of high-caliber lodging options to meet the needs of India’s rising middle class.”
India a Key Growth Market for SPG – Membership Grows 270%
Starwood’s distinct and compelling brands are creating new loyal guests in India. Membership in Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG), the company’s award-winning loyalty program, has grown more than 270% since 2007. Today, SPG members represent almost 50% of hotel guests at Starwood’s hotels in India. SPG was recently recognized as one of the top loyalty programs at the first annual Conde Nast Traveller India Reader’s Awards.
To meet the demand generated by the increasing numbers of Indian customers, Starwood opened its first Customer Contact Center (CCC) in India in the city of Gurgaon earlier this year. This is Starwood’s 9th global Customer Contact Center globally and the 4th in Asia-Pacific.
Starwood Opens a New Regional Office in Gurgaon
Reiterating its commitment to the region and to support the aggressive expansion plans of Starwood in the region, Starwood has relocated to a new state-of-the-art office in Gurgaon. Starwood has had a regional office in Gurgaon for over six years but it was no longer larger enough given the rapid expansion in the region. The new office at Vatika Business Park on Sohna Road houses a vibrant workspace for over 60 associates who actively work towards supporting Starwood’s growth strategy in the region.