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Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc. (HOT - Analyst Report) continues its domestic expansion with the opening of two hotels — one under the Element brand in Gainesville, FL and the other under its upscale Westin Hotels & Resorts brand in Nashville, TN.  

The Element Gainesville – University is expected to open in Mar 2017 near the University of Florida campus. The hotel will be operated and developed by H.I. Development Inc. — a well-known company specializing in development and management within the hospitality industry.

The 123-room hotel will include a 24-hour fitness center, outdoor pool and 900 square-foot meeting room. The hotel will be located at a stone’s throw away from the University of Florida’s Shands Hospital and main campus. Further, the hotel will be in close proximity to major tourist attractions like Florida Museum of Natural History, Kanapaha Botanical Gardens and Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.

Florida, located in the southeastern part of the U.S., is widely known for its world class studios and amusement parks. This could be one of the reasons why Starwood chose Gainesville for the Element brand.

The Element brand, is known for its eco-friendly and sustainable designs, 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.

The Westin Hotels & Resorts branded hotel is scheduled to be opened in early 2017 at downtown Nashville and will be part of the ongoing renovation of the region’s business district. The hotel which marks the brand’s debut in the city, will be owned by Nashville Hospitality Capital LLC – a real-estate holding company headquartered in Nashville and managed by Wischermann Partners, Inc. – a national hospitality firm.

The 430-room hotel will have a state-of-the-art meeting space, restaurant, rooftop pool and lounge, indoor pool, full-service spa and fitness studio and a business center. The Westin Nashville will be close to the city’s top entertainment attractions including Ryman Auditorium and Bridgestone Arena, as well as numerous shops, restaurants, bars and night clubs.

Demand for luxury hotels has increased in Nashville — one of the fastest-growing economies in the U.S. Starwood is seeking to capitalize on the opportunities in the city, in our view.

Starwood currently has a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). Better-ranked stocks in the broader industry include MGM Resorts International (MGM - Analyst Report), Marriott Vacations Worldwide Corp. (VAC - Snapshot Report) and Wyndham Worldwide Corp. (WYN - Analyst Report). All these stocks carry a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).

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