Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide have announced they are planning to strengthen their position as a leading international hotel operator in Africa by increasing its 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. Starwood already have 38 hotels, representing more than 10,000 rooms open in Africa and see the latest plans of development as a way to emphasize the importance of the region as one of the world’s fastest-growing hotel and travel markets.
“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 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 and by the end of this year, Starwood will double its dedicated development team focused on growth in Africa.
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.
Starwood Supports UNICEF with Pre-School Education Projects in Africa
As part of the Starwood’s global citizenship initiative, they have comitted their 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,” commented Roeland Vos, President of Starwood Hotels & Resorts for Europe, Africa & Middle East.
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.