Starwood Panama renderingStarwood Hotels & Resorts is on a growth spurt in Latin America.

The company aims to add seven properties in Latin America by the end of the year, and it has another 20 properties in the development pipeline. The second-largest publicly traded U.S. hotelier by sales currently has 71 Latin America hotels totaling 15,300 rooms in 13 countries.

In the last two years, Starwood opened 12 properties in the region, including the Westin Panama, which opened in January. Seven more will follow this year, representing a total of 1,300 rooms, covering four brands across five countries.

"We have a strong commitment to the Latin American market," said Ricardo Suarez, Starwood's vice president of acquisitions and developments, Latin America. "There is still a lot of opportunity in destinations like Mexico and Costa Rica, in under-hoteled markets such as Brazil, in top performers like Chile and Peru and in foreign-investment favorites such as Colombia and Panama."

Starwood is well positioned to capitalize on the opportunities, "given our brand affinity and our know-how in the region where we've had a presence for more than 40 years," Suarez said.

Starwood plans to open three Four Points by Sheraton properties within the next year, beginning with Lima, Peru, later this month and followed by Cancun in July and Bogota, Colombia, in January.

The Aloft brand debuted in Bogota and San Jose, Costa Rica, less than two years ago and will total eight properties by 2015, including hotels opening in Panama and Mexico this year and in Paraguay and Uruguay by 2015.

Sheraton will plant its flag in Salvador, Brazil, and Tucuman in northern Argentina by the end of the month, followed by Cartagena, Colombia, and Recife, Brazil, early in 2014.

The recent debut of the Westin Panama increased that brand's portfolio to 11 hotels spread across Panama, Mexico, Peru, Costa Rica and Guatemala.

The first Le Meridien Hotel opened in Mexico City last October, marking Starwood's seventh property in the capital city.

Opening later this year will be the Luxury Collection's Palacio del Inka in Cuzco, Peru, followed by one in Guadalajara, Mexico.

Four new W hotels also will welcome guests: in Bogota in 2014, Mexico City in 2015 and the Riviera Maya and Panama City early in 2016.

The St. Regis Kanai Riviera Maya is slated to open in 2016, the third St. Regis in Mexico.

Follow Gay Nagle Myers on Twitter @gnmtravelweekly. 

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