Starwood aims to have 100 hotels in India by 2015

Starwood aims to have 100 hotels in India by 2015

Mumbai: Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc plans to have 100 hotels in India by 2015 and aims to make the country its third-largest revenue contributor after the United States and China by 2013-14, its chief financial officer said.

The company will expand in India and China via management contracts, CFO Vasant Prabhu told Reuters.

“We will have over a 100 hotels in China by the end of next year, and we think India has the same potential, though China is ahead in infrastructure building," Prabhu said.

International chains expanding in India prefer not to own properties and limit themselves to management contracts, partnering with realty firms and wealthy individuals.

Prabhu said India probably ranked number five or six currently in terms of revenue.

“Sometimes it takes longer in India to develop hotels. In most countries it takes two to three years, in India it can take five years," he said, adding that work could get slowed down due to permissions and clearances.

In March, Starwood said it plans to open its first Sheraton hotel in Bangalore this year. There are already 10 Sheratons in India.

Starwood, which has more than 1,000 hotels in over 100 countries, has just 31 hotels in India. It will add seven hotels in India by the end of this year, Prabhu said.

The company expects to add 2,000 employees in India over the next two years. Starwood also announced plans to open its first W brand hotel in Mumbai, slated for a 2015 opening.

The hotel chain, which falls under the fast-growing boutique or lifestyle category, began as a predominantly North American-focused name but has shifted its focus abroad in the past two years or so.

In February, Starwood posted a higher-than-expected quarterly profit by controlling salaries and hiring even as it reaped the benefits of the United States’ business-led economic recovery, which saw corporate travel come back early and fast.

The company’s Sheraton and other brands compete against rivals such as Marriott International Inc’s Courtyard and Hilton Hotels’ Doubletree for the higher-end business traveler.