Starwood Opens St. Regis Properties in Kazakhstan

Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc. is moving ahead with its plan to expand into emerging markets by opening The St. Regis Astana and The Residences at The St. Regis Astana in Kazakhstan in 2017.
Michael Wale

Michael Wale

By Gail Kalinoski, Contributing Editor

Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc. is moving ahead with its plan to expand into emerging markets by opening The St. Regis Astana and The Residences at The St. Regis Astana in Kazakhstan in 2017.

The luxury hotel will be built by MG Development in Astana Central Park, known as the heart of the Kazakhstan capital city. The hotel will feature 120 guest rooms, including 18 suites and a Presidential Suite; five meeting rooms; a ballroom; and a business center. The project will also have 50 St. Regis-branded luxury residences containing two, three or four bedrooms. The residences will be built adjacent to the hotel and have access to all the services and amenities, including a spa, pool, exercise room, children’s club and butler service. There will also be several restaurants and a St. Regis Bar & Wine Vault cognac bar and library.

Michael Wale, president of Starwood Hotels & Resorts, Europe, Africa and the Middle East, said the hotel would be the first newly built St. Regis in the Commonwealth of Independent States, the former Soviet republics.

“CIS represents an untapped market for international hotel development, and the signing of The St. Regis Astana and The Residences at The St. Regis Astana is perfectly timed to the increasing global interest in Kazakhstan as the country prepares to house Expo 2017,” Wale said in a news release.

“Cities throughout the CIS are seeing an increase in regional and international visitors, who are looking for high-end accommodations, creating excellent opportunities for the introduction of Starwood’s brands into this important growth market,” Bart Carnahan, senior vice president of acquisitions & development for Starwood EMEA, said in the release.

“We’ve carefully watched the gradual transfer of business and institutions to Astana, driving an expansion of the city’s international airport and the development of a new railway station, and believe this is the ideal time to bring the St. Regis brand to this burgeoning capital city,” he added.

Lukas Hartwich, an analyst who covers the hospitality industry for Green Street Advisors in Newport Beach, Calif., said it makes sense for the hotel brands to be growing in such areas internationally.

“In many of these markets, the hotel industry is fragmented and the existing stock isn’t up to modern standards,” Hartwich told Commercial Property Executive. “With the growth in emerging markets, the hotel industry is in a ‘land grab’ phase, and global scale will be an important determinant for the ultimate ‘winners.’ ”

Hartwich said Starwood’s choice to locate the new St. Regis in Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan, was a good one. “It does appear the city is growing quickly and has the potential to be a key city in the region,” Hartwich noted. “Building a luxury hotel in Astana, Kazakhstan, isn’t as safe a bet as building one in New York or London, but given the city’s trajectory, it can certainly make sense.”

Starwood has five hotels in the CIS region now under three brands, including The Luxury Collection, W and Sheraton. It expects to open 11 hotels by the end of 2017, including Four Points by Sheratons in Kaluga, Krasnodar and Moscow Vnukovo Airport; Sheraton Rostov-on-Don and Aloft St. Petersburg in Russia; and Sheraton Dushanbe in Tajikistan.

In March, Starwood said it anticipated record growth within 12 months for its Sheraton-branded hotels and expected to open 35 new hotels in emerging markets. The company said most of the openings would be in China, but it also planned on debuting Sheraton-flagged hotels in the Middle East, Eastern Europe, Africa and Latin America. Kazakhstan and Tajikistan were among the countries where new Sheratons were expected.