Starwood Hotels closed its Lancaster, Calif., contact center suddenly on Tuesday and moved its duties to its other centers, including one in Wichita.

More than 300 employees in California were affected. They will be paid for two more months, said spokeswoman Maire Griffin. The company is also offering them a chance to move to other contact centers or to the chain’s hotels.

Starwood officials announced in May that it would open a call center in Wichita.

The company accepted its first call here in August, and it has hired about 300 people to work at the center, which is in the former Wichita Mall, 4301 E. Harry, Griffin said. The company is currently advertising for applicants.

In exchange for local and state incentives, Starwood has promised more than 900 full-time equivalent jobs in Wichita paying an average hourly wage of $13.40 within a five-year period, adding jobs every year. The company promised that the salaries would average $27,872 with a total payroll of almost $25.3 million.

The state had promised incentives valued at $1.6 million, while the city of Wichita and Sedgwick County each pledged $200,000 forgivable loans.

Starwood owns brands such as Westin, Sheraton and Four Points. The Wichita call center will be the company’s largest in the United States. Starwood owns 1,146 hotels worldwide and has 171,000 employees.

Reach Dan Voorhis at 316-268-6577 or Follow him on Twitter: @danvoorhis. ___

Photo Credit: Starwood is busy consolidating call center functions. Pictured is the W Austin Hotel & Residences in Austin, Texas. Wally Gobetz /