W Maldives-Fesdhu will be brand's first resort

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WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. -- Starwood Hotels & Resorts said it will open the W Maldives-Fesdhu Resort in the Maldives in late 2005, becoming the company's first W resort property.

Starwood, W's parent company, said it formed a joint-venture company with Universal Enterprises to develop the resort, which will feature 80 "over-water" and beachfront villas on Fesdhu, a private island.

Starwood will own 50% of the resort. Financial terms were not disclosed.

"With its pure white-sand beaches, turquoise lagoons and careful and pristine approach to tourism, the Maldives is an excellent location for our first W resort," said Barry Sternlicht, Starwood's chairman.

The W Maldives-Fesdhu Resort will be the sole resort development on Fesdhu.

Starwood said W Maldives-Fesdhu will combine Maldivian island village themes with W Hotels' contemporary designs and will feature many of the W brand's signature services, including its "whatever you want, whenever you want it" service commitment and W the Store.

When it opens, W Maldives-Fesdhu Resort will be the brand's 21st property and its third in the Asia-Pacific region. The W brand was launched in the region with the opening of W Sydney in 2000. The W Seoul Walkerhill is scheduled to open in South Korea in July.

The first W Hotel opened in New York in December 1998. There are now five W hotels in New York and 18 worldwide.

Since last year, Starwood has expanded its portfolio in the Asia-Pacific region with the opening of the Sheraton Sanya Resort on Hainan Island, the Sheraton Jiuzhaigou Resort in Sichuan, the Sheraton Krabi Beach Resort in Thailand and the Westin Resort Nusa Dua Bali, among others.

To contact reporter Jorge Sidron, send e-mail to [email protected].

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