Starwood Hotels & Resorts' first-quarter profit quadrupled from a year earlier as the company benefitted from both the January opening of its St. Regis Bal Harbour vacation-rental development in Florida and rising demand in its Americas region.
Starwood's first-quarter net income jumped to $128 million from $28 million a year earlier, while revenue surged 32% from a year earlier to $1.72 billion. Excluding the $78 million in first-quarter profit from St. Regis Bal Harbour, operating profit increased 24% to $149 million.
"The global lodging recovery forges forward in a turbulent world," said Starwood CEO Frits van Paasschen during a conference call with analysts Thursday morning. "We're on the cusp of a golden age of global travel.
Rising demand for Starwood hotels in Latin America and North America more than offset the effect of slower growth in Europe and the Middle East/Africa region. Latin America revenue per available room (RevPAR) jumped 14% from a year earlier, while North American RevPAR rose 7.2%, factoring out exchange-rate effects.
Overall, global RevPAR rose 6.4% from a year earlier. Starwood also increased its 2012 RevPAR forecast by 1 percentage point to between 6% and 8%.
Brand-wise, Starwood's W brand, which van Paasschen termed "a veritable global powerhouse," had RevPAR growth of 8.8%, while Four Points by Sheraton's RevPAR increased 6.3%. Sheraton and St. Regis had RevPAR advances of 5.5% and 4.4%, respectively.
Earlier this month, Starwood, which owns, manages and franchises almost 1,100 hotels in 100 countries worldwide, said it would reorganize some of its leadership structure amid the retirements of three of its presidents. Additionally, Starwood will combine North America and Latin America operations into a single Americas division. For hotel and hospitality news, follow Danny King on Twitter @dktravelweekly.