Starwood Re-entering the Iraq Market in a Big Way

I wrote about “Starwood-in-Iraq” back in 2004.

There were ITT Sheraton properties in Baghdad and Basra prior to the first Gulf War. After the war and despite economic sanctions those properties continued to use the Sheraton name. They had no economic relationship with Starwood Hotels and Resorts, and the international chain explicitly tried to distance itself — especially after the Basra property was bombed and the Baghdad hotel attacked.

Now Starwood returns to Iraq — but to the ‘safe’ part. They’re planning to open three hotels in Erbil by 2015. The capital of Iraqi Kurdistan will feature a Sheraton, a Four Points, and an Aloft.

Erbil features regular air service to Dusseldorf, Vienna, Cairo, Dubai, Larnaca, Beirut, Frankfurt, Amman, Istanbul, Doha among other cities and includes service with all three major airline alliances plus several of the significant Mideast players. Much of the international traffic centers on oil exploration. So presumably there’s a Western-style hotel market here. And there will be places to redeem points for folks who want to say they’ve been to Iraq and who construct air mileage awards.

(HT: sobore on Milepoint)

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Now, now. Erbil is in Iraqi Kurdistan and is perfectly safe for tourists. I’m actually planning to book a trip there for December 2013 using ANA miles from Frankfurt.

  2. Now, if they would only go down the road to Sulaymaniyah! I could use a change from the Hotel Azos or Lelezar!

  3. This is great. Until now (and only recently) the best option has been the Rotana. A very nice hotel, but not much use from a points perspective. Before that it was only Erbil’s own Sheraton, the Erbil International, which I’m not sure was ever actually a Sheraton at all, but that’s what most people call it.

    Scott is right, it’s a perfectly fine place to visit. Not the most exciting ever, but nicer than most people think.

  4. Gary, I also heard some US airlines will start flying there.

    Overall, this is a nice option to earn or redeem points if your travel needs take you to Erbil.

  5. Slightly off topic but Starwood topic none the less… Just book 2 nights at the St. Regis NYC for $275 + 15000 points per night!! Have never seen this rate before at St. Regis NYC! Lowest regular rate is $795. Looks like it’s only available between Christmas and New Years. Just wanted other Starwood travelers to know if they’re staying in NYC.

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