Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide, Inc. is an American hotel and leisure company headquartered in Stamford, Connecticut. One of the world's largest hotel companies, it owns, operates, franchises and manages hotels, resorts, spas, residences, and vacation ownership properties under its nine owned brands. As of 1 December 2012 (2012-12-01), Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide, Inc. owned, managed, or franchised 1,162 properties employing over 171,000 people, of whom approximately 26% were employed in the United States. Contents 1 History, 2 Brands 2.1 Westin, 2.2 Sheraton, 2.3 Four Points by Sheraton, 2.4 The Luxury Collection, 2.5 W Hotels, 2.6 St. Regis, 2.7 Le Méridien, 2.8 Aloft, a Vision of W Hotels, 2.9 Element by Westin, , 3 Starwood Preferred Guest 3.1 Partnerships, , 4 References, 5 External links, History: Starwood Hotels and Resorts was originally formed by the real estate investment firm Starwood Capital to take advantage of a tax break; at the time the company was known as Starwood Lodging. Initially, Starwood Lodging owned a number of hotels throughout North America, all under different brand names. The Westin Hotel Company was purchased in 1994 from Aoki Corporation of Japan. Starwood acquired the Sheraton, Four Points by Sheraton, and The Luxury Collection brands from ITT Sheraton in 1998. In 1999, Starwood launched their "W" Hotels brand. In September 2005, Starwood announced the launch of Aloft, a new hotel brand based on W. Aloft Hotels catered toward business travelers. In 2005, Starwood purchased the Le Méridien brand In 2004, Starwood's founder and CEO Barry Sternlicht stepped down as CEO to focus his attention on his other firm, Starwood Capital. He remained on the Board of Directors until 2005. He was succeeded as CEO by Steven J. Heyer, and Starwood began selling a number of its company-owned hotels, instead focusing on becoming a management company and franchiser for its current and future hotel brands. In April 2007, Steven J. Heyer left the company on the request of the Board of Directors because of an issue with Heyer's management style and after allegations of personal misconduct. Chairman of the Board Bruce Duncan served as interim CEO until September 2007, when the company announced Heyer's successor, Frits van Paasschen. Starwood also has customer contact centers (CCC) all over the world. A new CCC was just opened in Wichita, KS. This makes it 10 CCC worldwide. The other locations are in Austin, Texas; Fall River, Massachusetts; Lancaster, California; St. Thomas, Ontario, Canada; Cork, Ireland; Singapore; Tokyo, Japan; Guangzhou, China; and Gurgaon, India. Brands: (The following list of Starwood brands is chronological, according to each brand's entry into Starwood) Westin: Main article: The Westin Hotels and Resorts brand is Starwood's largest upscale hotels and resorts brand. It was bought by Starwood in 1994 and is also the oldest brand within Starwood, dating back to 1930. Sheraton: Main article: Sheraton is Starwood's 'flagship' brand, providing luxury hotel and resort accommodation. It began operating in 1937 and was sold to Starwood in 1998 by ITT. Also under the Sheraton brand are 7 Vacation Ownership properties. Four Points by Sheraton: Main article: Four Points by Sheraton was launched by ITT in 1995 as a mid-scale hotel brand. Originally the brand was created by renaming existing Sheraton "Inns" (a smaller, limited service version of Sheraton Hotels). The new name avoided the confusion some guests found in having two hotel categories (full service and mid-scale) with the same name (Sheraton). These hotels joined Starwood along with Sheraton in 1998. The Luxury Collection: The Luxury Collection brand began when ITT Sheraton purchased a controlling interest in CIGA (Compagnia Italiana Grandi Alberghi, or Italian Grand Hotels Company), an Italian hotel chain, in 1994. Those hotels, as well as a number of top-tier Sheraton Hotels, were then marketed as ITT Sheraton Luxury Hotels. After Starwood bought Sheraton, they established a separate brand identity for The Luxury Collection and expanded it. Both ITT Sheraton and later Starwood kept CIGA's original logo (the four horses of St. Mark) for The Luxury Collection brand logo until 2009; each Luxury Collection hotel now uses its own logo. Many hotels in The Luxury Collection are smaller establishments in converted palaces or other significant buildings, others are restored historic hotels. Confusingly, a few hotels in The Luxury Collection which were originally part of the ITT Sheraton Luxury group kept their Sheraton name when the Luxury division was spun off as a completely separate brand under Starwood. There are five such hotels remaining today, operating with the name Sheraton, but not technically part of Sheraton. Those hotels are Sheraton Addis (Addis Ababa, Ethiopia), Sheraton Grande Sukhumvit (Bangkok, Thailand), Sheraton Sofia Hotel Balkan (Sofia, Bulgaria), Sheraton Algarve Hotel (Albufeira, Portugal) and Sheraton Kuwait Hotel & Towers (Kuwait City, Kuwait). A part of the Collection, the Royal Penthouse Suite, at Hotel President Wilson in Geneva, billed at US$65,000 per night, is listed at number 1 on World's 15 most expensive hotel suites complied by CNN Go in 2012. W Hotels: Main article: W Hotels is Starwood's luxury boutique hotel brand, generally marketed towards a younger crowd. It was launched in 1998 with the W New York, a conversion of the old Doral Inn hotel at 541 Lexington Avenue in Manhattan and the brand has since expanded with over fifty hotels and resorts around the world. Though the hotels vary from newly built flagship properties to more modest conversions of previous hotels, they have a common theme of spare, minimalist modern decor and hip, informal names for categories of rooms and public areas. For example the lobbies of all the hotels are known as the "Living Room." W Hotels attempt to include the letter W wherever possible - the swimming pool is known as "Wet", the concierge is known as "Whatever Whenever", the laundry bag is known as "Wash" and so on. St. Regis: St. Regis is Starwood's main luxury brand, launched in 1999. It is named for The St. Regis Hotel in New York, which was built in 1904 in Manhattan at 5th Avenue and 55th Street by John Jacob Astor IV, who also founded the Astoria Hotel (which later became the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel) and who died in 1912 on the RMS Titanic. In the 1930s, head bartender Fernand Petiot, introduced the Bloody Mary cocktail. The St. Regis was a Sheraton from 1966 on, and following a lavish restoration from 1985-1991 was part of the ITT Sheraton Luxury division before it became the cornerstone of Starwood's new brand. All St. Regis properties except The Lanesborough in London use The St. Regis name. Le Méridien: Main article: Le Méridien was founded by Air France in 1972 and was sold to Starwood in 2005, by which point it was based in the UK. It has 130 properties worldwide and its first property was Le Méridien Etoile in France. Aloft, a Vision of W Hotels: Main article: Aloft is a mid-scale, urban-style business / boutique hotel brand. The brand was launched in 2005, in a relationship with W similar to Four Points by Sheraton and its 'brand parent', Sheraton. It has been criticized for being too slick and formulaic. Element by Westin: Announced in 2006, this is Starwood's first brand of hotels intended to be environmentally friendly. The designs include energy and water efficient features. The first Element hotel opened in Lexington, Massachusetts in July 2008. As of April 2010, there are seven Element hotels in operation in Denver (Park Meadows), Las Vegas (Summerlin), Houston (Vintage Park), Dallas (DFW Airport), Ewing NJ, Lexington, and Arundel Mills (BWI Airport). Two Element hotels are scheduled to open within the next year, in New York City and Omaha, Nebraska. Element hotels are built eco-friendly from the ground up, from the floors made of recycled materials to energy-efficient lighting and plumbing fixtures. In 2013 the first Canadian location will open in Vaughan. Starwood Preferred Guest: Partnerships: It has a credit card partnerships with American Express (MBNA Canada Bank partnership replaced by American Express in 2010). Starwood Preferred Guest also has a partnership with 32 affiliated airlines allowing guests to redeem their points for flights under the "SPG Flights" program. According to Starwood Hotels and Resorts' corporate profile, the SPG program has over 17million members.

Source: Wikipedia

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