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Hotel Chain Starwood Names Ukraine Key Emerging Market

KYIV, Ukraine, August 29, 2012 /PRNewswire/ –

Ukraine is one of the key emerging markets for hotel business development, as stated in the recent press release by the international hotel chain Starwood Hotels Resorts Worldwide Inc. Due to the upcoming economic boost, the company plans to expand its operations in CIS countries and open the Sheraton Kyiv Olympiysky hotel in Ukraine’s capital in 2013.  

Starwood named Ukraine a key emerging market together with Russia and Tajikistan. The company stated that in the next couple of years more than 70 percent of economic growth in the world will be associated with the fast-growing emerging markets. Starwood would be focusing on expanding its operations in such countries.

In November, 2013 the company plans to open its first hotel in Kyiv – Sheraton Kyiv Olympiysky. The new 196 rooms venue will be located on Troyitska Square in front of the central sports arena of Ukraine – Olympiysky stadium, which recently hosted the EURO 2012 football championship. Notably, the first high-end hotel opened by Starwood in Ukraine was the Four Points by Sheraton Zaporizhzhia.

It’s been reported earlier that in preparation for the EURO 2012, Ukraine opened and renewed more than 290 hotels in four host-cities: Donetsk, Kharkiv, Kyiv and Lviv. One of Europe’s most important sporting events has attracted more than 1 million foreign visitors to Ukraine. Reportedly, fans have spent nearly $1 billion on hotels, transportation, food, entertainment and clothing. The country’s hotel industry saw an increase in business of nearly 30 percent with total revenues estimated at $4.5 million, reported China Daily.

Furthermore, the experts of the Knight Frank consulting company as well as global (43 countries) commercial and residential property provider predicted that by the end of 2012 the Kyiv hotel market would include such widely recognized international brands as Hilton, Renaissance Marriott  Radisson Blue Hotel. The overall amount of guest rooms and suites in the new hotels is expected to reach almost 600.

Starwood Hotels Resorts Worldwide, Inc. is one of the leading hotel and leisure companies in the world with 1,112 properties in nearly 100 countries and 154,000 employees. Starwood owns, operates and franchises hotels, resorts and residences under the brands St. Regis®, The Luxury Collection®, W®, Westin®, Le Méridien®, Sheraton®, Four Points® by Sheraton, Aloft®, and ElementSM.

Luxury hotels target Chinese customers

BEIJING – The beginning of the recovery for China’s hotel market began in 2010 and in 2011 demand increased further for rooms.

Hotel executives still believe that China is a safe haven for luxury hotels, despite the occupancy rate for 2011 hovering at around 60 per cent.

“We haven’t felt the crisis that they are experiencing in the US and Europe,” said Charlie Dang, general manager of Northern China for Starwood Hotels Resorts Worldwide Inc, owner of nine hotel chains including the St. Regis, Sheraton, Westin and W brands.

“The domestic economy is still very strong. Generally the second- and third-tier cities are growing rapidly and that helps our business.”

The American company opened 40 hotels on the mainland in the last five years.

It currently has 92 hotels in operation and another 90 in the pipeline.

The Crowne Plaza Hotel, owned by InterContinental Hotels Group Plc, in the third-tier city of Dandong in Northeast China’s Liaoning province, reported an occupancy rate of 80 per cent during the summer season and 60 per cent during the winter.

“These are very good results for us,” said the hotel’s public relations manager, Ren Shixuan.

Crowne Plaza is still the only international luxury hotel in the port city.

It sits in a new development area overlooking the Yalu River that marks the border between China and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

InterContinental believed when the hotel was built in time for the Beijing Olympics, that there was scope to accommodate businessmen from the two countries. There was also potential to expand beyond first- and second-tier cities.

“Our business grew 15-20 per cent last year. This year, we’re expecting something like 10-15 per cent growth, so we’re pretty optimistic about the future,” Ren said.

“Our current clientele is 60 per cent tourists, here primarily for leisure. We’re really surprised by this figure. It’s really good for the hotel, because it means that we don’t have to rely so heavily on business travelers and won’t be hugely affected by any economic downturn,” she said.

Hotel operators also continued to strengthen their foothold in China in 2011 despite the competitive market. InterContinental, the largest international hotel company in Greater China has 162 hotels in operation and 143 under development.

Demand has mainly stemmed from the increasingly wealthy domestic market.

China had 960,000 individuals with a personal wealth of 10 million yuan (S$1.9 million) or more in 2010, up by 85,000 individuals or 9.7 per cent year-on-year, according to the Hurun Report, China’s version of the Forbes rich list.

Top-class resorts have room for improvement

The 5-star Sheraton hotel in Shenzhen, Guangdong province. Sheraton belongs to Starwood Hotels Resorts Worldwide Inc, owner of nine hotel chains including the St Regis, Sheraton, Westin and W brands. The American company opened 40 hotels on the mainland in the last five years. It currently has 92 hotels in operation and another 90 in the pipeline. (Photo:China Daily)

 By Tania Lee

BEIJING, Jan. 2 (Xinhuanet) — Leisure and business travelers experienced discrepancies at the top end of the international hotel market.

Tjia, an Indonesian executive who only provided his family name, takes forty business trips annually. Each time he checks into a hotel he runs through a mental checklist. Will they remember his name? Did they swap the thick blanket for the thin? Did they place his preferred toothbrush in the bathroom?

“When you spend a great deal of your time up in the air and in 5-star hotels, it’s not hard to spot the differences,” he said.

Hotels in Hong Kong deliver higher customer satisfaction over those on the Chinese mainland, according to Tjia. Hong Kong hotels are cleaner, have more reliable Internet, and are equipped with better gym facilities than hotels on the Chinese mainland, he said.

Since a hotel is a home away from home, more personalized services are vitally important.

“They need to be branded and up to international standards. In China, the Four Seasons, the Grand Hyatt, the Ritz and the Shangri La aren’t too bad,” Tjia, who is a member of each group’s loyalty program, said.

Branding is also important among leisure travelers like Australian Janet Taylor, who prefers to stay at the Peninsula and has been to its hotels in Bangkok, Shanghai and Beijing.

“There’s certainly a difference in the service and the slickness of everything,” she said.

Last week, Taylor and her son, who is studying in the capital, traveled around China and found the service at Shangri La more than satisfactory, at least most of the time.

“They were really good in Xi’an. They were really keen to please you and help you,” she said. However, the brand’s hotel in another city delivered a different experience.

“We were told to go to this particular concierge in the (affiliated) business center and she was extremely rude and not at all helpful about tours and almost yelling at us and said ‘Well you tell us what you want and we will see what we can do’.”

International hotel operators are continuing to define their brand to compete alongside an expanding and competitive market.

One of the ways many chains expect to do this is through their food and beverage options. For example, the Westin on Beijing’s Financial Street soon hopes to introduce a new Japanese restaurant.

“A good 5-star hotel will have a good restaurant so you don’t have to go out,” said Tjia.

The Beijing Grand Hyatt’s Made In China is renowned among hotel restaurants, especially for their Peking Duck and Beggar’s Chicken.

“I think you’re a bit removed from daily life when you eat in a hotel. It’s a bit clinical. You don’t quite get the feel of the city,” said Taylor, who not only expects a concierge to book travel tours but also to recommend good local restaurants.

(Source: China Daily)

Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc (HOT): Today’s Featured Leisure Winner

Starwood Hotels Resorts Worldwide Inc (HOT) pushed the Leisure industry higher today making it today’s featured leisure winner. The industry as a whole closed the day up 0.6%. By the end of trading, Starwood Hotels Resorts Worldwide Inc rose 89 cents (1.9%) to $49.08 on average volume. Throughout the day, 3.2 million shares of Starwood Hotels Resorts Worldwide Inc exchanged hands as compared to its average daily volume of 3.9 million shares. The stock ranged in a price between $48.37-$49.41 after having opened the day at $48.62 as compared to the previous trading day’s close of $48.19. Other companies within the Leisure industry that increased today were: MTR Gaming Group Inc (MNTG), up 10.9%, Luby’s Inc (LUB), up 6.9%, Canterbury Park Holding Corporation (CPHC), up 6%, and Empire Resorts Inc (NYNY), up 5.7%.

Starwood Hotels Resorts Worldwide, Inc., together with its subsidiaries, operates as a hotel and leisure company worldwide. It primarily operates luxury and upscale full service hotels, resorts, retreats, and residences. Starwood Hotels Resorts Worldwide Inc has a market cap of $9.72 billion and is part of the services sector. The company has a P/E ratio of 17.1, above the average leisure industry P/E ratio of 14.5 and below the SP 500 P/E ratio of 17.7. Shares are down 20.6% year to date as of the close of trading on Thursday.

TheStreet Ratings rates Starwood Hotels Resorts Worldwide as a buy. The company’s strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its impressive record of earnings per share growth, compelling growth in net income, revenue growth, attractive valuation levels and notable return on equity. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had generally poor debt management on most measures that we evaluated.

On the negative front, Country Style Cooking Restaurant Chain (CCSC), down 12.2%, Home Inns Hotels Management Inc (HMIN), down 5%, Good Times Restaurants Inc (GTIM), down 4.5%, and Century Casinos Inc (CNTY), down 4%, were all losers within the leisure industry with Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc (CMG) being today’s leisure industry loser.

For investors not wanting singular stock exposure, ETFs may be of interest. Investors who are bullish on the leisure industry could consider PowerShares Dynamic LeisureEntert (PEJ) while those bearish on the leisure industry could consider ProShares Ultra Sht Consumer Services (SCC).

For more information on Starwood Hotels Resorts Worldwide Inc click any of the following: