by Matt Alderton | January 08, 2015
Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide had a banner year in 2014, and plans to have another one in 2015, it announced this week.

According to the company, the global hotelier opened 74 new hotels in 2014, representing approximately 15,000 rooms across 26 different countries, and signed 175 new hotel management and franchise agreements, up 15 percent from 2013. The latter, which marks the fifth consecutive year of increased signings, represents the most new deals executed by Starwood in a single year since 2007.

"With more than 1,200 hotels in 100 countries, we're on the frontlines of global change and continue to see increasing demand for innovative, design-led brands, playing to Starwood's strength," Starwood President and CEO Frits van Paasschen said in a statement. "Our nine lifestyle brands continue to attract owners as does our loyalty program, Starwood Preferred Guest, which brings high-value guests to our hotels from around the world, driving more than half of our occupancy on any given night."

New openings and deal signings will continue in 2015, according to Starwood, which this year expects to open its 300th hotel in Asia Pacific, its 150th hotel in China, its 90th hotel in Africa and the Middle East, its 175th luxury hotel, its 750th upper upscale hotel, and its 300th mid-market hotel.

"Looking ahead, emerging markets remain a focus for us, but recovering economic conditions and increased availability of financing have also led to strong growth in North America and Europe," reported Simon Turner, Starwood's president of global development. "North America accounted for more than one third of our signings last year, and the availability of new construction lending resulted in a more than 50 percent increase in new-build hotel signings over the previous year. Globally, we renewed or extended 76 of our existing agreements with owners in 2014, underscoring the strength of our brands, loyalty program, operating teams, and systems. We remain focused on working with the right partners, on the right properties, in the right places, and our agile development approach allows us to adapt our growth strategies based on specific geographies and brand needs for both new development and conversion projects either managed or franchised."