WHITE PLAINS, NY - May 17, 2004 - To all those brides and grooms tired of toasters, how about Tahiti instead? Beginning today, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. (NYSE:HOT) is offering couples the opportunity to register for honeymoons to its hotels and resorts. Partnering exclusively with WeddingChannel.com, the #1 wedding website, Starwood hopes to capture a larger share of the honeymoon market, estimated at more than $4 billion in the U.S. alone. Couples can register for honeymoons at any one of Starwood's 740 St. Regis, Luxury Collection, Westin, W, Sheraton and Four Points by Sheraton hotels around the world including many of the world's most romantic such as the Bora Bora Nui Resort, The Hotel Gritti Palace in Venice, Italy and The Princeville Resort in Kauai, Hawaii.
Tools for Couples to Pick, Plan and Pay for their Dream Honeymoon
Here's how it works: Brides and grooms call Starwood's free Honeymoon Concierge at 1-800-503-7800 who will help them plan and personalize their perfect honeymoon from Hawaii to Mexico to the South Pacific to Santorini. Honeymoon Concierges will also help customize extras like a cruise in Crete, a picnic on the beach in Sardinia or a snorkel excursion in The Bahamas. Couples can also visit Starwood's Honeymoon Collection Website at www.spg.com/honeymoons which is packed with hotel slide shows, property and destination content and fun activities. Once they've chosen their destination, couples simply register their honeymoon with WeddingChannel.com so that friends and family can contribute "honeymoney" to their once in a lifetime trip. "Honeymoney" comes in denominations of $25, $50, $100 and $200.
Starwood Targeting Bigger Piece of the $20 Billion Wedding Gift Market
"Imagine if Tiffanys didn't promote its engagement rings? The travel industry has largely missed the boat when it comes to marketing to the very lucrative and recession-proof weddings market," said Jennifer Hyman, Manager of Luxury and Honeymoon Strategy for Starwood.
According to WeddingChannel.com, there are more than 2 million weddings a year in the United States and the wedding gift market is a staggering $20 billion per year. Couples spend an average of $4,100 on lodging during their honeymoon, and today, 72% of couples pay for their own trip as opposed to the groom's parents, which was traditional in the past.
"Engaged couples continue to register for traditional items like China and Crystal but are also looking for alternatives like honeymoons since brides and grooms are now older and more established," said Adam Berger, CEO of WeddingChannel.com. "In offering engaged couples non-traditional and traditional products for their registry, WeddingChannel.com ensures that engaged couples will find something to suit their individual style and makes it easy for their wedding guests to purchase a gift in one comprehensive place."
According to WeddingChannel.com, wedding gifts in the U.S. are 50% cash, 35% registry gifts and 15% other items. "Starwood's honeymoon registry straddles different gift giving traditions. While some cultures and ethnicities favor cash and others tend toward gift giving, the opportunity to give a bride and groom a portion of their honeymoon should have universal appeal," said Berger.
About Starwood Hotels & Resorts:
Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. is one of the leading hotel and leisure companies in the world with more than 740 properties in more than 80 countries and 110,000 employees at its owned and managed properties. With internationally renowned brands, Starwood is a fully integrated owner, operator and franchisor of hotels and resorts including: St. Regis, The Luxury Collection, Sheraton, Westin, Four Points by Sheraton, W brands, as well as Starwood Vacation Ownership, Inc., one of the premier developers and operators of high quality vacation interval ownership resorts. For more information, please visit www.starwood.com
Los Angeles-based, WeddingChannel.com offers couples comprehensive wedding-planning content and tools and one place to view all their gift registries. Nearly $100 Million of gifts were purchased in 2003 via WeddingChannel.com's patented registry system that searches 1.5 million registries from its many retail partners including, Federated Department Stores (Macy's, Bloomingdale's, Bon-Macy's, Burdines, Goldsmith's-Macy's, Lazarus-Macy's and Rich's-Macy's), Tiffany & Co., Crate and Barrel, Neiman Marcus, Williams-Sonoma, Pottery Barn, Recreational Equipment, Inc. (REI), JCPenney and others. WeddingChannel.com publishes WEDDINGBELLS magazine, a national publication with local editions in 10 major U.S. markets.