NEW DELHI: International hospitality major Starwood Hotels & Resorts plans to have up to 65 operational properties by end of 2015 in India as part of its expansion strategy.
The company, which currently operates 39 hotels in India under six brands, including Luxury Collection, Westin, Sheraton, Le Meridien, Four Points by Sheraton and Aloft, is looking to have a total of 100 hotels in its Indian portfolio by 2015, including operational and those in pipeline.
"We will have a minimum of 15 new openings between now and end-2015," Starwood Hotels & Resorts India Pvt Ltd Managing Director, India, and Regional Vice President South Asia Dilip Puri told PTI.
He further said: "Over 60-65 hotels will be opened and the rest under development by end-2015."Elaborating on the company's overall expansion plans in India, Puri said: "Our goal is to have a 100 hotels either operating, in pipeline or management contracts signed by the end of 2015".
When asked about investments, he said it would be mostly on brand building, people and training, technology, resources and infrastructure without disclosing any figure.
"Our corporate strategy is to own brands and manage hotels either through a franchise or a management model and not be real estate investors," Puri said.
The international hospitality chain has hotels under development in key cities like Delhi NCR, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Kolkata as well as in tier II markets like Agra, Dahej, Tirupati, and in resort destinations like Khandala, Bekal and Goa.
"We will continue to focus on the key Tier I and Tier II markets in India for our upper upscale brands and drive the distribution of Four Points and Aloft in the key tier II and some Tier III cities as well as look at opportunities in micro markets within larger markets," Puri said.
While the luxury brands will be in only select locations where they can grow, largely in metros or major leisure and resort destinations, the company sees good traction and opportunities to develop resorts in key tourist destinations, he added.
When asked if the company is planning to introduce more brands in India, Puri said: "We also have hotels under our W and St Regis under development. With this eight out of our nine compelling brands will fly their flags in India.
"Commenting on the significance of the Indian market for Starwood Hotels & Resorts, Puri said: "India is Starwood's 4th largest market and will soon be the 3rd. We know where in India we want hotels and we know which brands will work for us in which markets".
He said now to navigate through India, the chain needs the right local partners and that is critical to its success.
Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc currently has nearly 1,200 properties in 100 countries and 1,81,400 employees at its owned and managed properties.
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