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THAILAND-Local developer Amburaya Resorts has partnered with Dubai-based Istithmar Hotels on a 70-unit hospitality project that will introduce the Starwood Hotels & Resorts W brand to this Asian Pacific country. Slated to open by the end of 2008, the W Hotel & Residences at Koh Samui will be funded and constructed by Amburaya and Istithmar in what represents their first joint undertaking.

“We wanted to bring world class financial and operational experience into this project and Istithmar Hotels was the obvious choice,” Amburaya managing director Sunny Bajaj says. “We expect this to be just the start of a long and expanding relationship.”

Istithmar Hotels CEO Joe Sita was equally optimistic, stating that the project “fits right into our portfolio of luxury hotel brands in key markets around the world. For Istithmar Hotels, it is the people with whom we work that make the difference, and Amburaya’s team [checked] all the boxes for us.” Sita continues, “We know this will be a successful project.” Along with 15 luxury villas on the hotel grounds that will be available for purchase, the main resort complex will include the 70 hotel rooms along with W’s signature lounge, restaurant, pool bar and spa.

W Hotels is a global lifestyle product with 21 properties located in select international cities. Its parent company touts W as the fastest growing luxury hotel brand in the world, providing innovative comfort, cultural and design elements in areas “from fashion to music to art and everything in between.” Sporting such flags as Sheraton, St. Regis and Westin, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc. operates 850 hotels in 95 countries, with 145,000 employees. The publicly traded company is listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the HOT symbol.

Amburaya Properties is involved in a series of residential and commercial projects in such locales as Bangkok, Pattaya, Koh Samui and India. Istithmar calls Thailand “an important strategic market,” and managing director Richard Johnson said the company expects to make further deals in that country and throughout Asia in the coming months. Launched one year ago, Istithmar already has a portfolio valued at $3 billion, including holdings throughout Africa, Europe and North America. It recently announced the purchase of a 24.9% stake in leading Thai development firm Raimon Land Public Co. Ltd.

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