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Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. (HOT - Analyst Report) recently declared its plan to take its Element brand to Fargo, North Dakota in Nov 2005, thus marking the entry of the brand in the state.

This 130 rooms hotel features one bedroom suites and various amenities like spa, fitness center, swimming pool, and a 453 square-feet meeting room with modular furniture. The hotel is located close to the Sanford Fargo Medical Center, currently under development, and Microsoft Corporation’s second largest campus in North America.

Fargo, located in the southeastern part of the state, is witnessing rapid growth in the financial, software and energy sectors. We believe the hotel’s strategic location will boost both leisure and business travel in the area. This could well be one of the reasons that the company chose Fargo. It also justifies Starwood’s decision to bring its Element brand to the city.

The brand is known for its eco-friendly and sustainable designs and natural light and open spaces. Element is the first major hotel to embrace the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards.

Apart from owning 11 hotels in the U.S. and Canada, the brand has several domestic and international properties in the pipeline.

Starwood is comprehensively working on its assets to offer an advanced and customized travel experience to its guests. Besides making new hotel openings, the company is also trying to augment guest satisfaction and gain a better foothold in the industry through brand conversion and remodeling. Recently, the company opened a hotel in Jacksonville, Fla. under its popular brand name Four Points by Sheraton after investing $2.0 million on its renovation.

Going forward, Starwood is poised to benefit from the economic recovery and steady rise in demand for hotels. Also, we believe, the company’s increased strong developmental pipeline and significant international exposure are positives for the stock.

Starwood Hotels presently has a short-term Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). Some other stocks worth considering in the hotel industry include Home Inns & Hotels Management Inc. (HMIN - Snapshot Report), Orient-Express Hotels Ltd. (OEH - Snapshot Report) and Marriott International, Inc. (MAR - Analyst Report). While Home Inns & Hotels and Orient-Express Hotels carry a Zacks Rank # 1(Strong Buy), Marriott International holds a Zacks Rank #2.

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