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In order to bolster the North American presence, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc. (HOT - Analyst Report) is all set to unveil its first Le Méridien branded property in Chicago in association with RockBridge. Christened as Le Méridien Chicago – Oakbrook Center, it is slated to open for business in January 2014.

Positioned in Greater Chicago and in proximity to Chicago loop and Interstate 88 passageway, the new hotel will be just beside Oakbrook Center, the renowned shopping place in U.S. Le Méridien Chicago – Oakbrook Center will enjoy a prime location and is expected to attract both business as well as leisure travelers.

The hotel is scheduled to be launched after a refurbishment worth $20 million of the10-story property. The renovated property will feature 172 guest rooms, which includes one presidential suite and two spa suites. Wischermann Partners Inc. will be engaged in managing the operations of the hotel.

Starwood, with its upscale brand Le Méridien, has set a new trend in hotel designs. To capture new market opportunities, the company had earlier announced the opening of four hotels in Algeria, Tukey, Mexico and Bangldesh under Le Méridien brand in 2012.

Starwood declared that despite the macroeconomic turmoil, it has entered into maximum number of hotel agreements in 2012. At the end of 2012, the company inked nearly 125 new hotel management and franchise deals, which reflect an increase of 13% year over year. Of its total pipeline, 20% of hotel deals are consistent with the company’s brand conversion strategy.

Starwood Hotels competes with major hoteliers like InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG - Snapshot Report), Hyatt Hotels Corporation (H - Snapshot Report) and Marriott International Inc. (MAR - Analyst Report).

We currently have a long-term Neutral recommendation for the stock. Starwood currently retains a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).

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