More and more, planners and meeting-goers will be able to use their favorite U.S. hotel brands when traveling the world. This month, Hilton Hotels Corp. announced three major development alliances that are expected to result in 15 new hotels in the Caribbean and Central America, 25 in Russia, and at least 15 in the U.K. over the next five years. Not to be outdone, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, on the same day as Hilton's announcement, declared that it will open more than 80 hotels this year, almost half of which will be outside North America.
Hilton's development deals are with Caribbean Property Group for hotels in Central American and the Caribbean; London & Regional Properties Ltd. in Russia; and Shiva Hotels Ltd. in the U.K. and Ireland. "These important alliances will reinforce our position as the premierhotel company," said Matthew J. Hart, Hilton's president and chief operating officer, in a press release. "We are well on our way to achieving our stated goal of at least 1,000 hotels outside of North America over the next 10 years."
A Starwood press release said demand for its overseas hotels is at its highest level ever. Accordingly, the company is looking to double its China inventory from its current 34 hotels within three years, has announced plans for 12 new projects in Latin America, and expects to open 50 hotels in Europe, Africa, and the Middle East over the next three years. "We look forward to continuing our aggressive expansion in destinations and markets around the world in which we have traditionally not had a presence," said Raymond Gellein, president of Starwood's Global Development Group.
A particular coup for Starwood is in Nassau, The Bahamas, where the Sheraton Cable Beach Resort debuted last week. It is the first of five hotels that will make up Baha Mar, a massive 1,000-acre, $2.3 billion development that will include meeting space, a golf course, a 20-acre pool and beachfront complex, and a village with retail shops, restaurants and entertainment. Four of the hotels will be Starwood brands–-in addition to the Sheraton, which formerly was a Radisson property, there will be Westin, W, and St. Regis hotels. The other hotel will be the 1,000-room Caesars Resort Hotel & Casino. The entire project is scheduled to be completed in 2010.