Onsite: Starwood's Le Méridien Charts Worldwide Growth

Two years after Starwood bought Le Méridien, the European brand is readying itself for a stretch of property development and implementation of a series of transforming measures that should up its worldwide presence. Travel Agent sat down with Le Méridien's senior vice president, Eva Ziegler, who says 2008 will be a pivotal year for the brand in terms of its expanding global footprint and guest initiatives. While there are currently only seven Le Méridien properties in North America, Ziegler says the brand has identified 70 market tracks, specifically in urban and resort locations--and looks to develop seven new properties per year. She refers to Le Parker Méridien in New York as representative of where the brand is going. "It's in a prime location," Ziegler says of the property's Midtown address, "and has that Old World versus New World juxtaposition." Not only is Le Méridien poised for expansion, it, too, is preparing inventory-wide initiatives that seek to accelerate its core values of chic, cultured and discovery. Le Méridien is currently beta testing in nine hotels a new arrival experience featuring scent, sound and lighting. "A guest's first 10 minutes and last 10 minutes are the most memorable," says Ziegler. She also detailed Le Méridien's Unlock Art program, which provides guests with access to local cultural centers. The brand has already partnered with six such institutions and plans more. Visit [www.starwoodhotels.com/lemeridien/].

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