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The W brand may have cooled a bit in the U.S. since its heyday in the late 1990s, but it's mix of hip with high-end is a strong draw in Asia's hot design capitals.

W Hotels Worldwide, the luxury hotel brand under Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide, is looking to expand its hotel operation in Asia in the next three years.

“Asia is very attractive for us, as the region’s economy is booming. Many people are heading here, and there are many vibrant, incredible and beautiful cities, which are the targets for W Hotels,” said Arnaud Champenois, the brand director for W Hotels and Le Me{aac}ridien in Asia-Pacific.

The US-based hospitality chain plans at least 10 new hotels. After W Bangkok opens its doors on Sathon Road on Dec 7, other hotels will be launched in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou in China; New Delhi and Mumbai in India; Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia; Jakarta in Indonesia; and Macau.

The region has seven W hotels, in Seoul, Taipei, Hong Kong, Singapore, the Maldives, Bali and Koh Samui.

The number of hotels in Asia represents one-sixth of 42 properties worldwide under the W Hotels label.

It plans to have 60 hotels globally by 2015.

“We are here because Bangkok is energetic and charming. We can match a mysterious Thai beauty with a modern and fashionable lifestyle at W Bangkok. I am sure it will become a new hangout for trendsetters,” Mr Champenois said.

The brand executive said W Bangkok will position itself on a par with the St Regis Bangkok on Ratchadamri Road.

The former Russian embassy inside the compound will be opened later as an exotic restaurant.

Mr Champenois said he is not worried about a hotel oversupply in Bangkok, adding that W Hotels is not copying or competing directly with any hotel as it markets itself as a design brand.

The Thai Hotels Association said Bangkok had 329 hotels with 64,450 rooms as of May 31.

Mr Champenois said the Thai tourism industry is very strong and unique. Thai hospitality is superb, and tourists can enjoy everything from heritage and culture to beautiful nature.

“Prices here are very cheap, and it’s time for Thailand to develop its tourism to stay away from this perception. You need not use low prices to compete any more,” he said.

The hotel veteran said W Hotels has created many projects to promote Thai creativity and young talent. It sponsored Elle Fashion Week this month.

This year, W Hotels selected Milin Yuvacharuskul, the rising star of fashion design and owner of the Milin brand, to design a beachwear collection for three W retreats in the region. Last year, it picked Ek Thongprasert to design W Bangkok’s uniforms.

The chain is also searching for talented deejays to join its W Global Beats 2012.

(c)2012 the Bangkok Post (Bangkok, Thailand). Distributed by MCT Information Services. 

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Tags: bangkok, starwood, w hotels

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