New Delhi: International hospitality major Starwood Hotels and Resorts plans to open up to 12 new hotels under its various brands across India by end of next year to tap the increasing number of travellers coming to the country.
The company that currently operates 35 hotels in India under six brands is looking for Tier-II cities besides Tier-I cities for its expansion.
"We plan to open at least 10 to 12 hotels by end of 2014. These openings will be across brands and will include Four Points By Sheraton, Aloft, Westin, Sheraton, Le Meridien and W Hotels," Starwood Hotels and Resorts Managing Director India and Regional Vice-President South Asia Dilip Puri said.
As domestic travel increases and Indian travellers continue to demand more sophistication in terms of both quality and experience, Starwood has significant opportunity to grow its brands across the spectrum in gateway cities, tertiary markets as well as in resort destinations, he added.
"While there is certainly a surge in development in the economy and mid scale segments, we continue to see very good traction in the upper upscale and luxury end of the market. We see continued opportunities in the big Tier-I cities of India, but we also see tremendous opportunities in the Tier-II cities as well," Puri said.
These will also include some key resorts in destinations like Bekal in Kerala, Mahabaleshwar and Goa, he added.
The company currently operates 35 hotels in India under 6 of its nine brands. These include hotels under the Luxury Collection, Sheraton, Westin, Le Meridien, Four Points by Sheraton and Aloft brands.
"With the signing of the W hotels in India in Mumbai, Noida Delhi NCR, Goa and the signing of a St Regis in Noida, Delhi NCR, eight of our nine distinct and compelling brands will soon be present in India," Puri said.
The hotels will be under the management contract, he said, adding that Starwood will be operating these properties.
On being asked about the investments for the expansion, Puri said: "The investments we are making are not in real estate but in building our brands and loyalty, in people and training, in technology, in resources and in infrastructure that supports our growth, our business model and our distribution."
There are tremendous expansion opportunities in India as it is still an 'under-hoteled' market, and the demand for high-calibre lodging is expected to far exceed current supply for at least the next three to four years, he added.
"India is Starwood's fourth largest market and will soon become its third largest market after US and China," he said.
Starwood Hotels and Resorts manages around 1,134 properties in over 100 countries under nine brands -- St Regis, The Luxury Collection, W, Le Meridien, Sheraton, Westin, Four Points by Sheraton, Aloft and Element.