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The Warsaw Voice » Business » December 2, 2009
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Starwood Invests
December 2, 2009 By A.R.    
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16.6 billion zlotys is how much Poland has spent so far on European Union-backed projects slated for completion in 2007-2013, according to the regional development ministry. The EU is coughing up zl.12.7 billion of this amount.

Starwood Hotels & Resorts, the chain that runs Poland's Sheraton, Westin and Le Meridien Bristol hotels, plans to invest almost zl.12 million next year to improve its services. The chain also wants to open its fifth Sheraton hotel in this country, in the Mazuria lake district, in 2011-2012.

This year has been a tough one for the hotel industry, Starwood executives say, with restrictions on business trips and expense accounts in the first half of the year. In the first 10 months of 2009, the occupancy of the Starwood chain's six five-star hotels in Poland dropped by 6 percent compared with the same period of last year, the company said.

The hotel sector is particularly sensitive to the effects of a financial crisis, according to Thomas Schoen, regional director of Starwood Hotels & Resorts in Poland. This is because, in tough times, companies tend to cut spending on business trips and entertainment, Schoen said. Even so, he added, the latest slowdown has had far less impact on Poland's hotel industry than on its counterparts in Western Europe.

According to Starwood executives, the number of Poles checking into five-star hotels in this country in the first 10 months of the year grew by up to 10 percent at some hotels. Still, Americans, Britons and Germans continue to be the chain's main clients, Schoen said.

Most of the zl.12 million that Starwood plans to invest in Poland next year will be spent on renovating the Sheraton Warsaw and Le Meridien Bristol hotels, Schoen said. Despite the crisis, the chain says it wants to continue its expansion in Poland. Besides opening the new Sheraton in Mazuria, Starwood says it plans to manage hotels in cities such as Wroc³aw, Zakopane, £ód¼, Katowice and Szczecin.
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