<strong>Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. (
recently announced the opening of its first hotel - Aloft Asheville
Downtown - under its Aloft brand in Asheville, North Carolina. The
hotel, which marked the 60th worldwide opening of Starwood Aloft,
will be managed by McKibbon Hotel Group, Inc.
Asheville, the 11th largest city of North Carolina, is the county
seat of Buncombe County. The city enjoys excellent urban
infrastructure and is conveniently linked to major interstate
highways and an airport. The diverse architectural background and
exotic scenic beauty of the city has been a major enticement for
leisure and business travelers.
Strategically located in Biltmore Avenue, Aloft Asheville Downtown
hotel is in close proximity to major tourist spots of the
city. These include Asheville Art Museum, Biltmore Estate and
Asheville Mall. A concept of urban and cultural fusion at the hotel
aims to cater to modern travelers seeking a unique
Starwood has set a new trend in hotel designs with one of its
lifestyle brands Aloft. The brand aims to attract tech-savvy,
next-generation customers. Aloft has spread its operations globally
with around 60 hotel openings since its launch in June 2008.
The Aloft brand is currently on a high growth trajectory and has
left its mark in the main regions of North America, Europe, the
Middle East, Latin America, India, Southeast Asia and China.
The tourism industry has been a key economic sector for North
Carolina, alongside the health care, manufacturing and business
services sectors. According to N.C. Department of Commerce's
Division of Tourism, Film and Sports Development, the overall
domestic visitor spending in North Carolina increased to $18
billion in 2011, which marked an 8% increase over 2010 figures.
Standalone, Buncombe County in North Carolina generated $783.01
million in 2011, a 7.41% increase over 2010. Moreover, they believe
North Carolina is set to retain its position as the nation's sixth
most visited state and is well positioned for continued growth in
the coming years.
STARWOOD HOTELS (HOT): Free Stock Analysis
MARRIOTT INTL-A (MAR): Free Stock Analysis
WYNDHAM WORLDWD (WYN): Free Stock Analysis
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Starwood has explored the area earlier, with a hotel designated
under its 'Four Points by Sheraton' brand. However, the
market is not free of competition. Several major hoteliers like
Wyndham Worldwide Corp. ( WYN )
and Marriott International Inc. ( MAR )
already have a strong presence in the region.
We presently have a long-term Neutral recommendation on the stock.
Also, the company carries a Zacks #3 Rank, which translates into a
short-term Hold rating.