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NEW YORK CITY-Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc. currently has plans to grow the W Hotel line, which has been primarily US based since it began in 1998, abroad in at least seven markets. The newly targeted areas include Barcelona, Athens, St. Petersburg, Istanbul, Dubai and Doha, and most recently Milan.

“As one of the global capitals of design and fashion, Milan is a perfect fit for the W brand,” says Ross Klein, president of Starwood’s Luxury Brands Group, in a statement. “W Milan will mark a major step in our brand’s global expansion, pairing two style icons in the heart of one of the world’s most beloved destinations.”

Starwood is teaming with the Statuto Group to open the W Hotel in Milan, located in the Brera district. Statuto Group, run by Giuseppe Statuto an Italian real estate investor, focuses on residential and luxury hotels. The company owns a stake in a number of well-known international hotels including the Hotel Danieli in Venice, the Four Seasons Hotel Milan and the Crowne Plaza London – The City. This hotel, when it converts to W Milan in December 2008, will be the first W Hotel in Italy.

“We are thrilled to introduce the W brand to Italy, providing our cosmopolitan guests with an insider escape in the cultural center of one of Europe’s most exciting cities,” says Roeland Vos, president of Starwood Hotels and Resorts for Europe, Africa and Middle East. “Milan’s blend of commerce, cultural treasures, and world-class shopping make it a perfect choice for W’s continued worldwide expansion.”

The W Milan will host 76 rooms, including eight W suites and one Extreme Wow Suite. The hotel will also include the standard W amenities including signature beds and 24-hour concierge service called Whatever/Whenever.

The latest W Hotel in Dubai, there is already one there, was made public in December. The 400-room W Dubai – The Palm is slated to open in the second half of 2009. At the time Vos said, “W Dubai – The Palm is another significant step in W’s global expansion and an important step for Starwood in offering our guests ever more unique experiences.”

There are currently 21 W Hotel locations across the world including several location in New York City including the original W Hotel at 541 Lexington Ave., the W New York – Times Square at 1567 Broadway, and the W New York – Union Square at 201 Park Ave. Also developer Joseph Moinian is building a W Hotel Downtown at 123 Washington St. Chicago, Los Angeles, New Orleans, Atlanta, San Francisco, Dallas and Honolulu are among the list of US cities that have at least one W location.

A spokesperson with W Hotels declined to comment on the transaction.

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