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WHITE PLAINS-Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. reports it expects to open 80 new hotels worldwide in 2007, which is nearly double the new facilities it opened last year. The locally based hotelier also says it expects to ink about 200 new hotel management and franchise contracts this year.

Starwood officials say the company currently boasts a global pipeline of approximately 420 hotels and more than 100,000 rooms. The firm, in the midst of an aggressive expansion initiative involving all of its nine brands, expects to open about 200 hotels in North America alone in the next three years.

“Starwood has garnered more than its fair share of new hotel deals as a direct result of the tremendous value we create for owners and developers through the distinct positioning of each of our brands in the global marketplace,” says Raymond Gellein, president, global development group for Starwood Hotels. “We look forward to continuing our aggressive expansion in destinations and markets around the world in which we have traditionally not had a presence.”

Company officials note the firm expects to increase market share in China, where it currently operates 34 hotels, with at least that many new hotels to be developed there in the next three years. In Latin America, Starwood has reported plans for 12 new hotel projects. In Europe, Africa and the Middle East, Starwood anticipates nearly doubling the number of new hotel projects there this year, up from 23 deals in 2006. Company officials add that it expects to open approximately 50 hotels in the region in the next three years.

During the first quarter ended March 31, 2007, Starwood opened 11 new hotels and resorts totaling 3,400 rooms. Notable openings included the Sheraton Baltimore City Center Hotel, the Westin Chicago Northwest and the Sheraton Changsha Hotel in Changsha, China.

In the first three months of this year, the firm signed 65 hotel management and franchise contracts representing more than 18,000 rooms. Currently, Starwood Hotels & Resorts has a portfolio of approximately 870 properties in more than 95 countries and 145,000 employees at its owned and managed properties.

For more news on the state of the lodging industry see the earlier story from this week’s New York University conference.

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