Starwood Hotels & Resorts Celebrates its Fastest Growing Region with the Launch of Fully Integrated Chinese Language Websites Complete With Real Time Booking Engine

Chinese Consumers can Now Choose to Book Online in Their Native Language for Any of the Hotel Brands Under Starwood

SINGAPORE and SHANGHAI, Dec. 18 /Xinhua-PRNewswire/ -- In keeping with its aggressive development momentum in China, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. (NYSE: HOT) today announced the launch of its fully integrated Chinese language websites for each of its hotel brands including St. Regis(R), The Luxury Collection(R), W(R), Westin(R), Le Meridien(R), Sheraton(R), Four Points(R) by Sheraton, Aloft(SM), and Element(SM).

Chinese consumers who are more comfortable and confident to communicate in their native language for online transactions can now log on to any of the Starwood hotel brand Chinese websites, be it Sheraton, Westin, Le Meridien or Four Points by Sheraton, search for hotel options and book directly online.

The launch is part of the efforts to cater to the needs of consumers in Starwood's fastest growing region -- China -- for both inbound and outbound travel businesses, in addition to an increased demand for online booking convenience.

"Within this tremendous growth in both inbound and outbound travel businesses, China is yet another growth phenomenon in terms of internet bookings. In 2006, the market size for hotel bookings in China reached US$121Million and around 40% of this revenue was contributed by five-star hotels. By 2010, the market size for hotel online booking will hit US$347 Million. We need to seize the momentum of the market growth and support this channel with good content and effective product offerings," commented Oliver Bonke, Senior Vice President, Sales & Marketing for Starwood Hotels & Resorts, Asia Pacific.

"The fully integrated Chinese language websites for each of the Starwood hotel brands will have a mirror set of functions and features as the main English websites. For instance, a Chinese consumer interested to find out more about a Sheraton hotel in Hong Kong could log on to while a guest who reads Chinese, sitting in his office in Japan, could simply book via for a room at The Westin Guangzhou," commented Ms. Lisa Halim, Director of Online Marketing & Distribution for Starwood Hotels & Resorts, Asia Pacific.

In addition, customers who wish to consult or speak with a customer service representative can do so using the 'click to call' function on the language website, by simply keying in their phone numbers, and a Starwood call centre associate will return the call to assist with the reservation request.

"With our comprehensive online tools offered on the individual brand Chinese language websites, we hope to provide the growing pool of online customers with greater booking convenience and resources," added Halim.

With seven languages now available on the Starwood hotel brand websites, consumers can look forward to greater convenience and clarity when searching for information amongst the group's 890 hotels and resorts in more than 100 countries worldwide.

The World Tourism Organization (WTO) has made a forecast that China will probably overtake France as the number-one tourism destination by 2014. According to Xu Jing, WTO's Asia-Pacific representative, China is set to overtake the US, currently in third place, this year in terms of foreign visitor arrivals. Outbound China travel is moving fast ahead, where 34 million Chinese have travelled overseas in 2006. The WTO estimates that there will be 100 million tourists from mainland China by 2020. Chinese tourists are welcomed in some 132 destinations worldwide.

Starwood Hotels & Resorts has been growing its footprint aggressively in China, signing on over 20 hotels in the region alone in the first three quarters of the year. The group currently operates 40 hotels and resorts in China, with over 40 under development in Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou, Changshu, Hangzhou, Shimei Bay, Tianjin, Lhasa, Macau, Yilan, Zhongshan, Hong Kong, Nine Dragon Hill, Huadu, Wenzhou, Xian, Taiyuan, Huizhou and Hsinchu.

Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc.

Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. is one of the leading hotel and leisure companies in the world with approximately 890 properties in more than 100 countries and 145,000 employees at its owned and managed properties. Starwood(R) Hotels is a fully integrated owner, operator and franchisor of hotels and resorts with the following internationally renowned brands: St. Regis(R), The Luxury Collection(R), W(R), Westin(R), Le Méridien(R), Sheraton(R), Four Points(R) by Sheraton, Aloft(SM), and Element(SM). Starwood Hotels also owns Starwood Vacation Ownership, Inc., one of the premier developers and operators of high quality vacation interval ownership resorts. For more information, please visit :http// .

(Note: This press release contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of federal securities regulations. Forward-looking statements are not guarantees of future performance or events and involve risks and uncertainties and other factors that may cause actual results or events to differ materially from those anticipated at the time the forward-looking statements are made. These risks and uncertainties are presented in detail in our filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Although we believe the expectations reflected in such forward-looking statements are based upon reasonable assumptions, we can give no assurance that our expectations will be attained or that results and events will not materially differ. We undertake no obligation to publicly update or revise any forward-looking statement, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.)

Source: Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc.
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Keywords: Travel