Starwood hotels plans 5 new Nigerian hotels

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By Alex C

Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide Inc. plans to add five new hotels in Nigeria and as many as 20 hotels in Africa over the next four years, as the US owner of the Sheraton and St Regis brands takes advantage of rising travel on the continent.

The US company is seeking to add mainly five-star properties to its existing set of 37 hotels, Neil George, senior vice president for acquisitions and development in Africa and the Middle East revealed.

Five of the new sites are earmarked for Nigeria, Africa’s biggest economy and most populous nation with about 170 million people, George said.

“We are extremely positive about Africa. There are massive opportunities there. It’s mostly management contracts. It’s our preferred vehicle for growth,” George said in Johannesburg at the Hotel Investment Conference Africa.

Taj International Hotels Limited plans to have as many as six new hotels in sub-Saharan Africa over the next two years, Michael Pownall, general manager of the company’s Cape Town outlet, said at the conference. Taj, a unit of India’s Tata Group, is targeting Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria, Ethiopia, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

“We’d love to get a presence of one or two hotels in each of the targeted countries,” Pownall said. “In Nigeria, we are keen on Lagos and Abuja.”

Nigeria, the continent’s biggest oil producer, is also attractive to Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group.

The closely held US operator of the high-end Radisson Blu chain has 30 hotels under development in Africa, with four planned in Nigeria.

Some African hotels have had double-digit declines in occupancy this year as terrorist attacks and political turmoil have affected markets such as Nigeria and Egypt, Bloomberg Intelligence analysts Margaret Huang and Brian C. Miller said in a note. Even as these factors restricted growth, average revenue per available room in Southern Africa is up 6.7 percent this year to $74, the analysts said.

Starwood takes precautions to ensure the safety of staff and guests, and has “a long-term view on destinations” with an expectation that stability will return, Starwood’s George said.

Starwood, based in Stamford, Connecticut, has more than 1,200 properties in 100 countries, according to its website. Currently, international hoteliers are seeking to expand in African countries to exploit an increase in travel and higher economic growth rates than in the U.S. and Europe.

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