Over the past two decades, he has structured more than 300 separate investment transactions with an asset value of more than US$40b. Up until 2004, he was the chief design officer and a director at Starwood Hotel and Resorts Worldwide, building it up into a successful brand. He is now the CEO and chairman of Starwood Capital. Who is he? Hotel expert Barry Sternlicht.Sternlicht founded Starwood Hotels in 1995 and during his reign proved that he knows the hotel business. Sternlicht was in charge of 733 hotels, 231,000 rooms, 120,000 employees and the group was turning over US$5b in revenue. Sternlicht had snapped up hotel brands such as Sheraton and Westin and invented a new chain, the W, as well as turning St Regis into a worldwide luxury chain. But the hotel guru left his successful business with the determination to create another empire that would beat it.
Sternlicht then joined Starwood Capital Group and has since taken over Louvre Hotel Group. Starwood Capital also recently acquired Golden Tulip Hospitality, entering the top ten largest hotel groups in the world. Its ranking knocked Hyatt Hotels down a bar. All this is thanks to Sternlicht and it is quite impressive for someone who hasn’t yet turned 50.
Many were surprised by Sternlicht’s career move to Starwood Capital but he’s proving all his critics wrong. Polo Ralph Lauren, CEO, Hamilton South, once said that Sternlicht was ‘one of the few guys in private equity who understand brand value.’ These words are full of truth – Sternlicht has used, and continues to use, his expertise to create consistency over the brands he forms.
For example, the three star hotel chain Campanile owned by Starwood Capital, has created a brand consistency. Its hotels use similar colours and brandings across the chain. Sternlicht was one of the few to pioneer this brand consistency and it can be seen in Starwood Hotels such as the W Hotels.