Undaunted By Economy, W Hotels Continues Global Expansion

W Hotels Worldwide, the lifestyle brand from Starwood Hotels and Resorts, is continuing its ambitious expansion plan despite the rocky economy. The firm just opened a new hotel in Hoboken, N.J., the latest step in the brand’s global growth efforts. The W Hoboken hotel and The Residences at W Hoboken, located on the Hudson River across from Manhattan, contains 225 guest rooms, including 23 suites, and 40 W branded residences. The hotel contains The Chandelier Room, a lounge and bar with views of Manhattan; Zylo, a Tuscan steakhouse; Bliss spa; and W Hotels The Store. The new hotel is owned by Hoboken Hotel L.L.C. , an affiliate of Ironstate Holdings L.L.C. Starwood has ambitious plans for the brand, announcing in a statement that it will more than double its footprint by 2011, in the United States as well as foreign markets. There were 30 W hotels in the global development pipeline as of the fourth quarter of last year, encompassing 8,822 rooms, according to figures provided by Lodging Econometrics, a hotel real estate consulting firm. The largest number, 10, are in the U.S.; one is in South America; five are in Europe; one is in Africa; four are in the Middle East; and nine are in the Asia Pacific region. “Based on these figures, they may not double their presence by 2011, but they will come close,” said Lodging Econometrics president Patrick Ford. It is unlikely that large hotel companies will purchase existing hotels and convert them to brands they want to grow, Ford said. “They are in cash preservation mode during these times.” One avenue for brand expansion could come from developers who own an independent hotel, but are looking for brand affiliation, in an effort to become a known quantity in this tough lodging environment, Ford said. He cautioned, though, that given the unique design of W hotels, conversion opportunities are not likely to be plentiful for the brand.