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Half of Sheraton’s North American hotels newly renovated

Sheraton Park Tower

Have you noticed that the old, tired Sheraton that you used to stay in has been freshly updated - or no longer is a Sheraton?

If so, don't be surprised.

Since Starwood in 2007 kicked off a $6 billion global revamp of the chain, Sheraton has refashioned its image.

Sheraton removed 41 of its North American hotels that didn't meet Sheraton's new standards, Hoyt Harper, Starwood's SVP of brand management, tells me. That's a full 20%.

Of today's 202 Sheraton hotels in North American hotels, 103 have been recently renovated.

"Sheraton is seeing light at the end of the tunnel," he says.

The chain's makeover has made Sheraton more competitive with other full-service brands in the eyes of both developers and customers, Harper says. Sheraton competes with chains such as Marriott, Hilton, Radisson and Hyatt.

Guests survey scores indicate that Sheraton guests today are more satisfied with their stays and are more likely to return to a Sheraton, he says.

The stakes are high for the brand.

Overall, Sheraton has around 400 hotels around the world; in terms of rooms, the chain accounts for half of all of Starwood's rooms - despite Starwood having nine brands. Sheraton also accounts for 30% of Starwood's hotels in the pipeline, he says.

No. 1 country for future growth?

When it comes to growth, China is the most important country for Sheraton going forward. Of the 26 hotels the chain expects to open this year, 16 will open in China, Harper says.

What about London?

Since London is in the midst of a luxury hotel building boom and renovation spree (including Starwood's first W hotel in Leicester Square), I asked Harper about what happens to Sheraton hotels there.

The most high-profile Sheraton in London - the Sheraton Park Tower in Central London - is poised for change, he says. (Starwood had previously named the wrong hotel.) The Sheraton Park Tower, by the way, is co-branded as a Starwood Luxury Collection property.

Though still in the early planning stages, Harper says that the hotel "requires a lot of work. It's going to be an extensive renovation."

How did Starwood decide which hotels to boot in the USA?

Hoyt says management looked at these factors: Guest satisfaction scores, compliance with brand standards, physical condition, infrastructure inside the hotel and location. Most of the hotels that lost the Sheraton flag were in secondary or tertiary markets.

Getting rid of so many hotels wasn't cheap, Harper says.

"Quite frankly, it cost a lot of money," he says, citing lost fees. "It was a financial hit we were prepared to take in order to strengthen our brand going forward."

Readers: Have you noticed a difference lately with the Sheraton chain?

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