Press Release

 

2007-01-09

Le Méridien Makes Its Debut In The Mediterranean

Dynamic Global Growth Continues for Le Méridienunder Starwood’s Stewardship

(White Plains, NY, January 9, 2007) – Starwood Hotel & Resorts Worldwide, Inc.® (NYSE:HOT) announces that Le Méridien® Lav has opened its doors in the stunning Mediterranean port of Split. The resort, previously known as Hotel Lav and regaled as the ‘best address in Split,’ has undergone a $150 million renovation and is the first Le Méridien hotel in Croatia, as well as the latest addition to Le Méridien's growing portfolio since Starwood acquired the brand in November 2005.

Le Méridien brand’s dynamic growth around the world is centered around its ongoing pursuit to bring culture to life for its guests, providing them with a new way of seeing things. International travelers will embrace Le Méridien Lav not only for its flair and cosmopolitan flavor, but also for its prime location on the sea in the largest city in Dalmatia. One of the busiest ports and most popular leisure destinations of the Mediterranean, Split is the main artery for those exploring Croatia’s romantic coastline and picturesque islands in the Adriatic Sea.

“As Le Méridien grows its global footprint, we continue to focus on destinations that bring to life the brand’s passions for art, architecture, design, cuisine and fashion. At the heart of our approach is delivering these cultural experiences in ways that give our guests -- those who are curious and eager to learn something new -- a new perspective,” said Eva Ziegler, senior vice president of Le Méridien. “Split’s vast cultural offerings, both historic and contemporary, offer visitors the opportunity to not only discover a new destination but a new horizon. It is a location ideally suited for Le Méridien’s brand positioning.”

"We are truly excited to be opening this magnificent Le Méridien resort in the city of Split, the cultural hub of Croatia known for its rich blend of art and architecture,” said Roeland Vos, President, Starwood Hotels & Resorts, Europe Africa and Middle East. “The debut of Le Méridien Lav is a further sign of Starwood’s commitment to developing brands in fabulous destinations that appeal to our guests.”

In addition to its busy seaport, offering ferries to Croatia’s many beautiful islands including Hvar and Korcula, Split also has a modern transportation network for those wishing to visit outlying areas of the city. Visitors can spend a day visiting Split’s romantic beach and world-class shopping or venture just 30 minutes outside the city to Trogir, a village showcasing cultural treasures from medieval times.

“Croatia is fast building a reputation as an international tourism hot-spot, with its natural beauty and unique cultural heritage,” said resort co-owner Ivica Kurtovic.

Le Méridien Lav adds a high European service standard and a unique experience to Split’s growing hotel and commercial landscape. A creative hub for guests seeking more than just an ordinary hotel room, the hotel offers 364 spacious guestrooms in a stylish, yet comfortable design, decorated with fabrics and colors inspired by the hotel’s natural surroundings. Additionally, the resort’s 17 suites and its 394 square-foot Presidential suite all offer breathtaking views of Split and its neighbouring islands. The hotel also boasts approximately 9,500 square feet of meeting space.

“With its array of resort attractions, prestigious accommodation and stunning vistas, Le Méridien Lav is the perfect locale for visitors from across the world to come and experience Croatia,” said the other resort co-owner, Jim Bosnjak. “As an Australian of Croatian heritage, I am proud to have helped play a role in the revitalization of Split’s local economy with the rebuilding of this iconic hotel.”

The fully integrated, beach-front resort offers guests a new lens on the typical travel experience. Seven bars and dining outlets tantalize guests’ culinary senses, including a fine-dining restaurant, a brassiere serving meals throughout the day, a casual pub, a Champagne lounge, a room to enjoy Le Méridien brand’s approach to coffee culture and an outdoor grill. The hotel’s three-story Roman-inspired Diocletian Spa and fitness center provide the perfect venue for weary visitors to re-discover themselves. Offering numerous options for guests who enjoy leisure activities while travelling, the hotel features a tennis academy, indoor and outdoor pools and bars, a private yacht marina, a full range of water sports, a shopping arcade and a nightclub and a casino.

“With the opening of this resort, Le Méridien is poised to take its place as Croatia’s leading leisure outpost,” said John G C Wood, General Manager of Le Méridien Lav. “Le Méridien's emphasis on chic, cultured discovery will resonate with the resort’s international guests.”

Synonymous worldwide with style, originality, and a passion for art, architecture, food, fashion, music and film since its founding in Paris in 1972, Le Méridien has come to represent the “art” of hospitality throughout the world, known as much for its elegance, finesse and panache, as it is for its well-trained staff and commitment to providing guests with a new way of seeing the individuality of each of its locales.

Le Méridien brand, currently represented by more than 120 properties in 52 countries, was acquired by Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. in November 2005. With close to 70 percent of its properties located in Europe, Asia-Pacific, Africa and the Middle East, Le Méridien provides a strong international complement to Starwood’s primarily North American holdings.  Plans call for dynamic expansion of Le Méridien-branded hotels within the next five years, concentrating in the U.S., Latin America, and Asia-Pacific, including destinations such as India, Thailand and China.

Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. is one of the leading hotel and leisure companies in the world with approximately 850 properties in more than 95 countries and 145,000 employees at its owned and managed properties. Starwood® Hotels is a fully integrated owner, operator and franchisor of hotels and resorts with the following internationally renowned brands: St. Regis®, The Luxury Collection®, Sheraton®, Westin®, Four Points® by Sheraton, W®, Le Méridien® and the recently announced AloftSM. Starwood Hotels also owns Starwood Vacation Ownership, Inc., one of the premier developers and operators of high quality vacation interval ownership resorts. For more information, please visit www.starwoodhotels.com