Starwood Moves From "Selling Beds To Selling Experiences"

Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide

Steven J. Heyer, CEO of Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide, has unveiled an all-new brand positioning strategy to make the comapny's eight hotel chain's into cult brands. "Starwood's brands must be ideas and feelings attached to rooms, but not just words...we've moved from selling boxes and beds to selling experiences," said Heyer at a recent New York media event.

In the past year, Starwood purchased the luxury hotel brand Le Meridien and launched aloft, a concept developed by the W design team. Starwood's proposed growth strategy is to move from the current 850 properties in 95 countries, to 1,000 this year (in signed contracts), with a 5% net annual growth in units expected through 2009.

As Starwood's becomes a full-fledged lifestyle company, look for spa to become increasingly important. In addition to Starwood's spa brands Bliss (in W Hotels) and Remède Spas (in St. Regis Hotels), new spa concepts are on the horizon. Spa industry heavy-hitter Jeremy McCarthy, former Spa Director for KSL's La Costa Resort & Spa, has joined the spa team lead by Mia Kyricos, Starwood's Director of Spa Development and Operations. According to Jeremy's blog, his new role will be "corporate Director of Spa Operations and Director for Westin". Starwood has launched 'Heavenly Spa' a new spa brand based on Westin's "Heavenly Bed and Heavenly Bath" concept.

The spa concept will also be reflected in new lifestyle hotel rooms. Westin's new Renewal Suit concept is designed to reflect personal renewal and offering a soothing environment to help guests recover from their travels. The suite features bamboo floors, a floor-to-ceiling water feature, calming music and aromatherapy. There are yoga mats and accessories available for use in the exercise are along with WestinWORKOUT in-room equipment and a specially designed minibar center called the Purification Station.

For more details on Starwood's spa strategy, listen to our Spa Masters Podcast with Mia Kyricos