In a recent announcement, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide reaffirmed its intention to remain one of the largest four and five star hotel operators in China: with 62 existing hotels and a pipeline of 86 new hotels.
Starwood stated that, in 2011, one in every three new hotels opened by the group will open in China, including new brand flagships for eight of its nine brands. This makes China Starwood's second largest hotel market: after the USA. Frits van Paasschen, the president and CEO of Starwood, pointed out that China is one of the world's fastest growing domestic and outbound travel markets. And with demand continue to outpace supply in China, he said there is still a long runway for growth especially when you consider that China has 171 cities with populations of more than one million, most of which do not yet have a major international branded hotel. He added that it was not hard to imagine that Starwood would ultimately have as many hotels in China as it does in the United States (i.e. more than 450).
Starwood's presence in China dates back to 1985 and the debut of The Great Wall Sheraton Hotel in Beijing, which was the first international branded hotel in mainland China. According to Miguel Ko, the chairman and president of Starwood's Asia-Pacific division, Starwood's long legacy in China has given it a considerable head start, with more than 30 years of experience in the market, longstanding native Chinese teams, and valuable relationships with local owners and developers.
When Starwood opened its first hotels in China it was basically serving Western travelers; however now more than 50% of its guests in China are Chinese.