STARWOOD Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, which owns and operates hotels under nine brands, including Sheraton, Westin and Le Meridien, is in talks to bring two more hotel brands into Malaysia, namely W and aloft.
"We are in two pretty advanced (stage of) discussions in Kuala Lumpur. We are looking at (introducing) a W and an aloft brand," its senior vice-president acquisition and development for Asia Pacific, Matthew Fry, told Business Times in a recent interview in Singapore.
He said one negotiation was for a W hotel and residences that will be built from scratch, and may be ready in four years should the deal be sealed.
"The Kuala Lumpur City Centre and the Bukit Bintang areas are the focus for our W brand," he added.
On its aloft brand, Fry said that there could be one in Malaysia within the next 18 months. The location could be in Kuala Lumpur, Johor or Sabah.
"aloft, basically, has the DNA of, and is the spin-off of W. The hotel measures about 28 sq m compared with a W hotel, which is about 42 sq m to 48 sq m or bigger," he said. "aloft does not have as much public space, and the food and beverage offerings are not as elaborate."
W is described as one which provides the "wow" factor and a holistic lifestyle experience integrated into the brand's sensibility through contemporary restaurant concepts, glamorous nightlife experience and signature spas.
Meanwhile, Fry said that Starwood sees a lot of activities around Johor, especially in the east coast of the state, and would consider this area to have Starwood's representation.
Currently, Starwood operates five hotel brands in Malaysia and has confirmed a sixth - The St Regis.
The hotels operating in Malaysia include Le Meridien Kota Kinabalu, Le Meridien Kuala Lumpur, The Westin Kuala Lumpur and The Westin Langkawi Resort & Spa.
In December 2009, it took over the management of The Andaman in Langkawi from General Hotel Management, and is now operating the property as a Luxury Collection.
The Starwood group also operates the Four Points by Sheraton Kuching and is scheduled to open the Four Points by Sheraton Sandakan in March 2011.
It has also confirmed the opening of The St Regis Hotels and Residences Kuala Lumpur in 2014.
Yet another brand which it operates in Malaysia is the Sheraton Langkawi Beach Resort. It also part owns and manages the Sheraton Imperial Kuala Lumpur.
On plans to divest its stake in Sheraton Imperial Kuala Lumpur, Fry said: "Our long-term strategy is to divest real estate holdings. At one point Starwood owned 190 hotels and we are now down to about high-50s.
"The long-term strategy is to divest our hotel ownership and become more of a management/franchise fee-based business. At one point 80 per cent of our income was from our own hotels and 20 per cent from fees. Our goal is to switch that.
"We are not actively looking (to sell). This particular estate (Sheraton Imperial Kuala Lumpur) has not been discussed," he said.
The hotel is jointly owned by Indonesia's Rajawali group and Starwood.
Source : HotelsMag
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