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Declaring that “globalization is not westernization,” Starwood Hotels CEO Frits van Paasschen spoke today about the company’s global headquarters temporarily moving to Dubai for a month in March, and he characterized the emirate as “defining a new crossroads” in travel between the emerging and developed world.

van Paasschen stated Starwood has more hotels in Dubai than any city in the world other than New York City, adding that, like Starwood headquarters’ temporary relocation to Shanghai in 2011, the company seeks to “get to where the growth is.”

The CEO of the usually White Plains, New York-based company cited the advanced design and growth of Dubai Airport, and Dubai’s being one of the fastest-growing hotel markets in the world as some of the reasons behind the visit.

There is an airline based there, Emirates, that is turning a few heads, as well.

Mindset changes

Recalling the headquarters relocation to China, van Paasschen, speaking during the company’s fourth quarter earnings call, indicated that the temporary move to China “made a permanent change in our mindset,” and taught the company how to be agile.

Starwood operates in about 100 countries, and 80% of its hotel pipeline is in destinations outside North America.

In another matter, van Paasschen lauded Starwood’s “high-return investment” in the new Crossover Rewards partnership between Starwood Preferred Guest and Delta SkyMiles, which offers reciprocal benefits for elite program members.

van Paasschen said the partnership would enable both parties to recruit high-yielding members.

Photo Credit: Le Royal Meridien in Dubai. Gary Bembridge /