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Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc.'s (HOT - Analyst Report) eco-friendly hotel brand, Element, is set to debut in Suzhou, China in association with Suzhou Science and Technology Town Kexin Cultural Tourism Development Co., Ltd. in mid-2015. This will be the first Element-branded hotel in Asia Pacific.

Suzhou is a rapidly growing secondary Chinese city. The city is fast converting itself to a tech-driven industrial zone and is presently the home to several electronics, IT, biotechnology, pharmaceutical, electrical machinery and chemicals companies.

The hotel is likely to benefit from its close proximity to big Chinese cities like Shanghai, Jialingjiang and Wuyishan. The hotel will also be well connected with the Sunan Shuofang International Airport, a high speed rail network and modern expressways.

Suzhou’s growing importance as a business and leisure hub can be understood by Starwood’s solid development profile in the city. Starwood currently manages a Four Points by Sheraton and is set to unveil six hotels under different brands by 2018.

However, the place is not devoid of competition. Some other industry behemoths like Marriott International Inc. (MAR - Analyst Report), Hyatt Hotels Corp. (H - Snapshot Report) and Wyndham Worldwide Corp. (WYN - Analyst Report) have their presence in the city.

The Element brand mainly serves value-concious guests and generally seeks to strike a balance between corporate and leisure travelers. Its eco-friendly concepts go perfectly in tune with Suzhou Science and Technology Town’s nature of operation. This 190-room property comprises approximately 10,764 square feet of meeting space, a business center and many other amenities.

The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified, upscale, eco-sustained contemporary brand, Element, first appeared in 2008 with the launch of a property in Massachusetts, U.S. In its five-year journey, the brand has gained strength and popularity, thanks to guest satisfaction.

Currently, the brand boasts as many as 10 hotels across the U.S. and has nearly 7 properties in the pipeline. With a planned opening in Frankfurt, Germany in Oct 2014, the brand will debut in Europe.

Starwood’s entry in China dates back to 1985 with the debut of Great Wall Sheraton Hotel in Beijing. Leveraging its first-mover advantage, Starwood has become one of China’s most sought-after global brands. The company is now scrutinizing its opportunities in various untapped but highly populated Chinese cities. At the moment, this Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) company operates 120 properties with another 100 in the development pipeline.

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