Leading Meeting Professionals

Professional Convention Management Association

March 18 2013

American Hotel Giant Relocates to the Middle East

By David McMillin, Staff Writer

dubai and starwood hotelsMore meeting planners are looking to the Middle East and Africa for new opportunities, and they aren’t alone. Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide has announced plans to open 50 new hotels across the Middle East and Africa within the next five years. The hotel giant won’t simply oversee the openings from afar, either. The company has moved its global headquarters from Stamford, Connecticut to Dubai for a full month.

“With 80 percent of Starwood’s pipeline coming from rapidly growing markets, it is simply not possible to lead a truly global business from a boardroom in Connecticut,” Frits van Paasschen, President and CEO, Starwood, said in a statement. “The insights that come from experiences like this move make us more agile in today’s rapidly changing world.”

That rapidly changing world means that Starwood’s list of business opportunities includes plenty of names that many would not have expected to see just a few years ago such as Iraq, Pakistan and Nigeria.

“Starwood continues to see demand for growth of all of our brands across the Middle East and Africa despite economic and political uncertainty in some parts of this incredibly diverse region,” Paasschen said. “This region is at the center of these trends and a key focus of our growth strategy.”

Other major hotels brands have shown similar focuses for their future plans. Marriott recently unveiled plans to invest in developing sustainable hotels in the Middle East, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean. Hilton has announced the opening of 17 hotels in Saudi Arabia within the next three years.

“The Middle East and Africa represent tremendous growth opportunities for hoteliers, associations and corporations alike,” Michelle Stoddard Crowley, manager, global development, PCMA, says. “Many organizations are trying to understand the best ways to approach these markets.”

“For meeting planners looking to capitalize on new opportunities, having trusted hotel brands can help ensure that they will take smooth steps into these emerging destinations,”  Stoddard Crowley adds.

To learn more about international destinations that are becoming major players in the meetings industry, click here.

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