Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc Plans Upscale Brand Aloft In India

Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc, a hospitality and leisure chain, plans to roll out its upscale brand ‘Aloft’ in India. “We have tied up with a few developers and Citibank subsidiary for the Aloft brand,” said Larry Malarkar, regional director, sales and marketing, India, Nepal and Bangladesh, Starwood Asia Pacific Hotels & Resorts Pte Ltd. “They will come up in Chennai, Bangalore and a couple of Tier II cities including Pune, Ahmedabad starting 2009,” he added.
The company is also in the process of finalising plans for its other brands including five star luxury brand St Regis, W Hotels and four star brand Four Points. Currently, the company has its brands including Westin, Sheraton, Le Meridien and The Luxury Collection in the country. It has no plans to get the Element brand to India. ITC Hotels has been Starwood’s partner in India for more than 30 years. It has 10 year franchise agreement with the US-based Starwood Hotels and Resorts for re-branding its seven hotels and bringing them under latter’s ‘Luxury Collection’.
“We are in talks with a real estate company for a property in Mumbai for St Regis and will probably tie up with a developer for a multi-hotel pan India deal for Four Points,” he said. He added that the company sees big potential for the Four Points brand in India while it will be very selective for its W Hotels brand. “No concrete plans for the W Hotels as of now,” he said.
Asked if Starwood plans to partner with the Anil Ambani Group for St Regis brand, the group was reported to be looking at joining hands with Starwood for the brand, Malarkar said, “The group has expressed interest to enter the hospitality sector. People have been asking us if we plan to tie up with them. Earlier, we used to say no comments but now I can say there are no such plans.” Typically, a St Regis hotel has 300 rooms. Starwood sees huge market in Tier I cities for its luxury brands. “There are no hard and fast plans to confine brands to a few destinations only, but the luxury brands will only be sustainable in the major metros to begin with. We do not see big market for luxury brands in Tier II cities,” Malarkar said.
For its Westin brand, the company has tied up with real estate companies including Mumbai-based real estate company Oberoi Construction for property in Mumbai and Vatika group’s subsidiary, Vatika Hospitality Pvt Ltd, for properties in Delhi and Gurgaon. “We have also signing one more property with Vatika for property in Bangalore ,” he said. By 2011, the company plans to add 30 hotels to the bank of 23 at present in the country.

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