Next year will be a big one for Starwood
Hotels & Resorts in Latin America, as the company plans to open
hotels in locations where it previously had no presence.
That growth is part
of Starwood's worldwide strategy, according to Laura Canepa, public
relations director for Starwood Hotels & Resorts Latin
"Starwood is in a
process of global expansion, and that includes all divisions of our
company," Canepa said. "Latin America has a slightly lower volume
of growth than the other divisions because of the volatility of the
region. [But] we have signed on for the construction of 12 new
hotels. This includes new destinations where Starwood didn't have a
presence, including Costa Rica."
In spite of the
volatility, Canepa noted growth in travel to Central and South
"We have noticed an
increase in not only business travelers but also leisure travelers
to South America," she said.
Canepa said Buenos
Aires was one of the most popular destinations.
"Buenos Aires has
been voted as one of the most attractive cities by international
travelers, with a very favorable exchange rate, a richly varied
gastronomical offering, culture and architecture," she
This is good news
for the Argentinian travel industry, which suffered in the months
after the nation's economic crisis at the beginning of this
"The city of Buenos
Aires has recovered much of the business travel segment that it had
lost during the economic crisis," Canepa said. "It has also
recovered the regional tourism from countries that before had
[avoided visiting] because it was very expensive to visit
In addition to
Buenos Aires, Canepa said Argentina's interior was attracting more
"The north of
Argentina has had a boom in European visitors, and the south has
received a great number of Brazilian travelers," she
W's debut in South America
But it is other
cities in Central and South America that are slated for the biggest
growth in terms of Starwood presence.
The region will
have its first W Hotel in 2008, when the 205-room W Santiago opens
in the Chilean capital.
"W has already
arrived in Mexico City, and it's really an innovative concept that
revolutionized the hotel industry in Mexico," Canepa
"We think that the
same thing will happen in other countries, where the five-star
hotel offerings are very standardized. W introduces a new concept
in terms of the service experience, design and technological
innovation. This is the difference that the guest experiences as
soon as they are in contact with the brand."
Canepa added that
the company would like to expand the W brand further in Latin
"We would like to
find the [appropriate] conditions to enter the market in Sao Paulo,
Buenos Aires and other destinations," she said.
new properties in Central America will be the first Westin in
Honduras. Slated to open in 2008, the 164-room Westin Resort &
Spa Roatan will be about 20 minutes from the Honduran island's
"The hotel will be
part of a mixed-use development, with villas and individual
residences," Canepa said. "In Honduras, the market was in need of a
hotel with these characteristics, and there we saw the opportunity,
with the developers, to introduce the brand.
"We believe that
the Westin brand has enormous growth potential in our
brand expanding in Central America is St. Regis. The St. Regis
Resort & Residences will open in Costa Rica next year at Playa
Coyol on the central Pacific coast.
traveler recognizes the St. Regis brand for its emblematic
properties around the world," Canepa said. "Costa Rica is a
destination that needs a concept like St. Regis. Often the decision
to visit a destination is made based on [the presence of] a
prestigious and well-recognized hotel."
The majority of the
new Starwood hotels opening in Central and South America are
operated by Starwood and owned by separate entities, according to
With the new
properties, Starwood will have a total of 56 properties in 14
countries in Latin America. And the company isn't done
"We are evaluating
investments and expansion plans all over the region," Canepa
"Brazil is a
priority for us. We're operating very strongly there with our
Sheraton brand -- the Sheraton Rio Hotel & Towers and Sheraton
Barra in Rio, a Sheraton in Porto Alegre, a Four Points in Curitiba
and another in Macae.
"Obviously, we are
evaluating other cities for other Starwood brands. Le Meridien is
one brand with which Starwood is working hard to expand in the
contact reporter Mark Chesnut, send e-mail [email protected].