Starwood Capital Group has named Arash Azarbarzin CEO of its SH Hotels & Resorts subsidiary, which operates the 1 Hotels, Baccarat Hotels and Treehouse Hotels brands.

Azarbarzin, who previously served as SH Hotels & Resorts' president, will succeed Starwood Capital chairman Barry Sternlicht as chief executive. Sternlicht will continue on in his role as chairman, retaining involvement with the SH Hotels & Resorts business.

Arash Azarbarzin
Arash Azarbarzin

"I'm grateful and honored to receive the title, but my role hasn't really changed," Azarbarzin told Travel Weekly. "I will continue to focus on three areas: existing assets and making sure we recover and are ready for when the world comes back; expansion and growth; and our main mission, which is being a sustainable organization and giving back to Mother Nature and our communities."

Azarbarzin's appointment comes as SH Hotels & Resorts ramps up its expansion plans for 2021, with the company preparing to debut the 1 Hotel Toronto this spring and the 1 Hotel Nashville before the end of the year.

1 Hotels is also on track to debut a Hawaii flagship -- the 1 Hotel Hanalei Bay in Kauai -- and a San Francisco outpost in 2022, followed by the 1 Hotel London Mayfair in late 2022/early 2023, which Azarbarzin said would be the brand's "most expensive hotel, from a rate perspective," due to its prime location.

Additionally, plans are in the works for 1 Hotels in Paris and Melbourne, as well as new Baccarat and Treehouse locations throughout Europe and Asia. A loyalty program, dubbed Mission by SH, is concurrently in development.

The Grand Salon at the Baccarat Hotel New York.
The Grand Salon at the Baccarat Hotel New York.

Meanwhile, SH Hotels & Resorts' full portfolio is back up and running. The group's existing stable comprises five 1 Hotels in Brooklyn; Manhattan; Miami Beach; West Hollywood, Calif.; and Sanya, China; as well as the Baccarat Hotel New York and Treehouse Hotel London. "Back in June and July, when we were just beginning to reopen hotels, I don't think anyone predicted this would continue into 2021," said Azarbarzin. "And it's great that we have the vaccine, [but distribution] is moving slower than everybody wants. We're thinking now that the recovery will begin in the third and fourth quarter, where previously we thought we'd have recovery in the first or second quarter of this year."

While Azarbarzin reported that the company has yet to see "any major movement" in New York City, where occupancy at its Baccarat Hotel New York hovers at around 30%, SH Hotels & Resorts' hardest hit market has been Los Angeles, which has been severely hampered by the entertainment and film industry "coming to a halt" amid the pandemic.

In Miami, however, the group has seen its 1 Hotel South Beach, which is its largest property, perform notably well, with the hotel actually "doing better than it did pre-Covid, minus the group business," according to Azarbarzin.

"The restrictions are much [more lenient] in Florida, where you can have indoor dining," he explained. "People from New York and L.A. and all the other restricted states are coming to Florida to have some kind of normalcy in their lives."

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