Barry Sternlicht's Starwood Capital Group is launching an ultraluxury hotel brand that will compete head-to-head with Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc. The new hotels, which will be modeled after the Hôtel de Crillon in Paris, will compete against Starwood Hotels' premium St. Regis hotels as well as other top-tier chains. The venture was unveiled less than a year after Sternlicht abruptly resigned his executive chairman post at Starwood Hotels.
Despite similar names, Sternlicht's Starwood Capital Group is independent of Starwood Hotels, the publicly-traded hotel company in White Plains, N.Y. Sternlicht left Starwood Hotels after six months of behind-the-scenes feuding with Steve Heyer, the former Coca Cola Co. president brought in by him and the board to run Starwood Hotels in October 2004. During his decade at Starwood Hotels, Sternlicht developed the popular W brand and was at the helm when Starwood installed the 'Heavenly Bed' at its Westin hotels, a move that set off a frenzy for better bedding in homes as well as hotels.
Starwood Capital acquired the venerable Crillon hotel in Paris earlier this month as part of a $3.2 billion acquisition of its parent company, Société du Louvre. Crillon hotels in London, Rome, New York and Barcelona, Spain are in the planning stages, Sternlicht said in an interview. "We are going to make each hotel obscenely rich and obscenely beautiful and position them at the top of their markets'. Sternlicht said there is no problem continuing to work with Starwood Hotels while competing against it in the luxury segment.