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Starwood's Sheraton Enters Iraq

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Leading hotelier, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc. (HOT), is set to unveil a property under its largest luxury brand Sheraton in Dohuk, Kurdistan Autonomous Region, Iraq in early 2014. In this regard, the hotelier partnered with Brilliant Role Group’s subsidiary Mase Co LLC.

This property – Sheraton Dohuk Hotel – will mark the entry of Starwood-branded property in Iraq. We believe that this property, boasting a total of 202 guestrooms and several other amenities, will create a strong guest base, going ahead.

The country’s emerging economy buoyed by its enormous oil reserve and growing GDP caught the attention of the hotelier. Apart from the Sheraton Dohuk Hotel, Starwood has three other hotels in the pipeline in Iraq including Sheraton Erbil Hotel, Aloft Erbil and Four Points by Sheraton Erbil, scheduled to be opened in 2015.

Starwood has been focusing on the rapidly growing Middle East markets for quite some time. Beginning in 1963, Starwood now owns as many as 50 hotels in the region and is expected to add more than 30 properties in the pipeline over the next few years.

As per the United Nations World Tourism Organization (:UNWTO), the number of tourists traveling to the Middle East is expected to reach 136 million by 2020. The emergence of the region as a business and leisure hub promises more growth opportunities for the global hotel chain.

In its 70-years' journey, Sheraton, one of Starwood’s strongest brands, has gained strength and popularity owing to guest satisfaction. The company is continuously trying to drive the brand’s potential and has invested $8 billion for its worldwide expansion. This opening takes the company a step closer to fulfilling its dream to operate 500 Sheraton properties by the end of 2015.

Starwood currently retains a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). Some players in the hotel industry, which look attractive at current levels, include Hyatt Hotels Corp (H), China Lodging Group, Limited (HTHT) and Marriott Vacations Worldwide Corp. (VAC). All these stocks carry a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).

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