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Starwood Says U.S. Hotel Occupancy Above Pre-Crisis Levels

Jan. 25 (Bloomberg) -- Occupancy rates at U.S. hotels run by Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc. are back above their level before the financial crisis started, according to President Matthew Avril.

“We are very bullish about the United States,” Avril said in an interview at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. “We are back to pre-crisis level in occupancy throughout our system in North America.”

Last year was the first since 2008 that the U.S. hotel industry reported occupancy of more than 60 percent and an average daily room rate above $100, Smith Travel Research Inc. of Hendersonville, Tennessee, reported Jan. 23. Occupancy rose 4.4 percent in 2011 to 60.1 percent and the average rate was $101.64, a 3.7 percent increase.

Starwood, owner of brands including W and St. Regis, opened 27 hotels in North America last year and plans to open 20 more in 2012, the Stamford, Connecticut-based company said in a statement yesterday.

Avril also expressed confidence about other regions where the company operates hotels.

“We, like many others, have seen and continue to see tremendous growth in the Asia-Pacific region,” he said. “We continue to see tremendous growth in the Middle East.”

Starwood has more than 50 hotels in the Middle East. Even after revolts in the region, “we continue to see people looking for investment and development opportunities throughout the Middle East,” Avril said.

In Europe, where Starwood has about 150 hotels, “everybody recognizes there are some challenges and difficulty,” he said. “It seems the emerging consensus is that Europe may be in for a moderate recession.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Alaa Shahine in Dubai at asalha@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Daniel Taub at dtaub@bloomberg.net.

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