Sheraton Hotels & Resorts—part of the Starwood Hotels & Resorts collection of worldwide properties—has more than 400 hotels in 75 countries around the world, but is certainly not resting on its laurels. Indeed, the company has announced a robust global pipeline of more than $5 billion in new developments in key markets worldwide, with 50 new hotels (20,000 rooms) being added to its already expansive inventory. That, in addition to the 3-year, $6 billion revitalization effort that started in 2007 and continued into early-2010 which included renovations, new hotels, and signature brand initiatives in North America and in hotels overseas.
Recommend sat down recently with Hoyt Harper, sr. v.p., Sheraton Hotels & Resorts, and he shared his thoughts and perspective on Sheraton’s expansion. “Sheraton is the strongest of the Starwood‘s brands in terms of growth,” he says enthusiastically. “We are building in the U.S., China, India, and Europe. Our 4,000-room Sheraton in Macau is the largest in our brand and this destination is the hottest gaming location in the world right now.”
In fact, he says, “One of our biggest destinations in terms of property growth in the next few years is China. We will have 50 properties there by 2012,” Harper says, adding with pride, “You know, we were the first international hotel company in China and India.”
But Sheraton has also added a few new footprints domestically. “I have to say,” Harper says, that “we are also proud of our domestic expansion, with great four-star or higher properties in Brooklyn, Tribeca New York, and Palm Springs, to name a few.”
Indeed, the Sheraton Brooklyn New York opened this past May in New York, featuring 321 guestrooms offering modern design, relaxed living space and 360-degree views of the city from the rooftop lounge. According to the hotel company, this is the first full-service hotel to open in Brooklyn in more than 12 years and is part of the brand’s strategic 50-hotel expansion.
“Sheraton has historically been one of the first hotel brands to enter developing markets and we are proud to lead the gentrification of downtown Brooklyn with the opening of the borough’s first full-service hotel since 1998,” Harper says. The Sheraton Tribeca New York, incidentally, will open in the fall of 2010 and is expected to offer 369 guestrooms and suites.
Another new Sheraton property that has caught the industry’s eye is the Caribbean’s 503-room Sheraton Puerto Rico Convention Center Hotel & Casino, with a full-service casino and resort-like amenities, including a sundeck/pool, spa and retail space. It’s also the first new full-service hotel and casino built in San Juan in more than 10 years.
But it’s the brand’s signature initiatives that one gets a sense Harper is most proud of. “One of our initiatives is the eight spas that are opening this year, with 12 more in 2011. This is our ‘in-house spa brand’—the Shine Spa by Sheraton—that goes along with our health and fitness program called Sheraton Fitness. Our approach is holistic including helping our guests get into a total wellness mindset. We offer in-room videos, travel tips…even design a program for the guest to take home.” He adds enthusiastically that, “in China, over half of the hotels have spas and fitness centers.”
In fact, the global roll out of Shine Spa by Sheraton will continue with 12 openings scheduled over the next 15 months, including the Sheraton Shanghai Hong Kou, the Sheraton Beijing Dongcheng and the Sheraton Yantai Golden Beach Resort, followed by further expansion in North and Latin America.
But there are even more reasons, Harper says, for travel agents to book with Sheraton, including the “great bedding, for which we are famous, the Link@Sheraton—[the connectivity hub of the lobby experience, which allows guests to work, relax, socialize or grab a snack]—and the expansion of clubs and services in the Club level at our hotels. We feel these are a great value for our guests.”
He adds that, “We are committed to well-maintained hotels throughout our inventory with all of our brand meeting a high standard of quality, consistency and customer service. We deliver a great guestroom, new lobby centers for social interaction and connectivity, well-being and the highest guest satisfaction.”
Of course, travel agents can see what all the fuss is about for themselves, because, as Harper points out, “We have special travel agent rates, and we continue to offer our Starwood ProLearning program,” Starwood’s online learning and development program. Travel professionals who complete Module 1 qualify for exclusive STARPRO rates, which are designed to offer travel professionals a chance to experience the properties for themselves.