Sheraton making a new start in Iraq
Fresh from returning to Iraq after a 20-year absence, the owner of the Sheraton hotel brand is already fielding offers for new hotels in Baghdad and elsewhere in the Gulf nation.
Last week, Starwood Hotels and Resorts announced deals for two new hotels in Erbil, the capital of the autonomous Iraqi region of Kurdistan.
The new Sheraton and Sheraton Four Points hotels mark the firm’s first business in Iraq since it ceased operations there due to the first Gulf War.
Asked if the firm may use Erbil to test the water for a new property in Baghdad or another major Iraqi city, Starwood’s regional director Guido De Wilde revealed yesterday:
“We have been approached.”
However, it is likely to be some time before the firm decides to follow-up on any interest.
“We are very cautious, especially in areas where there are still some safety and security issues,” said De Wilde, adding that the company will wait and see how events “evolve over time”.
Besides, in some ways, he explained, the company has never left the Iraqi capital.
“Actually the Sheraton hotel in Baghdad still carries our logo. The logo is still on there, and very often if something happens, it is still referred to in the media as ‘next to the Sheraton’ - but we are not operating the building.”