Birmingham is to get its first five-star hotel in a development which will generate millions of pounds worth of business for the city's economy.
The decision by US operator Starwood Hotels & Resorts to open a Westin five star hotel at the city's new Snowhill mixed-use scheme comes as Birmingham and the wider region prepares to showcase itself at MIPIM - the world's largest international property event which attracts developers and property experts from around the globe.
Starwood Hotels, one of the world’s largest hotel and leisure companies, says the new Birmingham hotel will be its first Westin property in England.
It already operates the upmarket Westin Turnberry Resort in Ayrshire - venue for The Open golf tournament in 2008 - where rooms command upwards of £300 a night. Starwood yesterday confirmed it had entered into an agreement with Ballymore Properties, the Dublin-based firm developing the £500 million Snowhill scheme, to open the new 198-bedroom Birmingham Westin Hotel & Spa in early 2010.
The hotel, which will employ a staff of 140, will form a key element of phase three of the Snowhill scheme, a site which has already been earmarked as the new Birmingham headquarters of KPMG.
The hotel will occupy a landmark 23-storey tower overlooking St Chad’s Cathedral. It will become the tenth hotel in the UK for Starwood Hotels & Resorts, joining sister properties under the Sheraton, Le Méridien, St Regis and Luxury Collection brands in London, Heathrow, Edinburgh and Ayrshire.
Ballymore director Jonathan Haigh insisted: "This project will further add to Birmingham’s growing status as a global city."
And Michael Wale, senior vice-president, director of operations, North-west Europe at Starwood Hotels & Resorts, added: "We are thrilled to be opening the first Westin property for England in Birmingham.
"The city has become one of the UK’s key cities for corporate meetings and incentive business and there is strong demand for a brand like Westin to establish a presence in the region."
Starwood operates nearly 900 properties in more than 100 countries. The group has a workforce of about 145,000 employees.
Mike Whitby, leader of Birmingham City Council, said: "Starwood Hotels & Resorts' decision to open a Westin hotel at Snowhill is a major milestone for the city and one that we warmly welcome.
"The arrival of the first five-star hotel in Birmingham underlines the city's ever-increasing importance as a business and lifestyle destination, not just nationally but internationally."
Charlotte Ritchie, head of policy at Birmingham Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said: "If Birmingham is to be truly recognised as a top level international city then it needs facilities of the highest quality, which is why these proposals are so important.
"While we already have some excellent hotels in the city, having a five-star hotel will generate millions of pounds for the city's economy. As the people stopping there are likely to be affluent, Birmingham's shops, restaurants and other attractions will feel the benefit too.
"It will also immediately elevate the profile of a city internationally, making it a desirable place to visit for both leisure and business, and hopefully lead to return visits in the future."
Overall, the one million sq ft Snowhill development is one of the most important and largest redevelopment projects underway in Birmingham.
Once completed, it will create a new city centre business district, boasting - in addition to the city’s first five star hotel - Birmingham’s tallest residential tower, two office buildings comprising nearly 600,000 sq ft of prime commercial space (with 120,000 sq ft already pre-let to KPMG), restaurants, bars and quality retail arranged around new open public spaces such as landscaped squares, tree-lined boulevards and piazzas.