MIRAGE JOINS SHERATON'S GRAND BRAND ELITE

MIRAGE JOINS SHERATON'S GRAND BRAND ELITE

WHAT'S in a name? Well, according to Sheraton Hotels & Resorts it's everything, and the Gold Coast is the clear winner within its Australian portfolio.

Sheraton Mirage Gold Coast has been rebranded Sheraton Grand Mirage Gold Coast as part of a five-year plan by the hotel group to elevate its best properties from the rest of the hotel pack.

The Gold Coast is one of five additional properties announced this week to get the Grand treatment, which recognises the hotels for 'their enticing destinations, distinguished designs and excellence in service and guest experiences'.

The others are located in China and Korea and all now join 10 hotels given the Grand moniker in August by the group.

Sheraton Grand Mirage Gold Coast is the only Australian hotel to enjoy the rebranding, which has been aided by a major refurbishment by owner Pearls Australasia. Pearls is reported to have sold the property earlier this year to Chinese billionaire Tony Fung for $160 million, although it is understood the deal has yet to settle.

The rebranding is a major indication that Sheraton is planning to stay on the Gold Coast. Sheraton owner Starwood Hotels is contracted under option until 2022 as hotel manager of the 295-room beachfront property, and the group is looking to expand its interests in Australia as the hotels market continues to gain momentum.

Last year, Starwood opened the Sheraton and Four Points by Sheraton in Melbourne and Brisbane. It also poured money into refurbishing the Four Points by Sheraton in Perth.

In Brisbane, it is preparing for a new W hotel under construction on the old law courts site in the CBD, while new properties are also planned for Perth and Melbourne.

The Sheraton Grand rebranding was launched in August this year as part of Starwood's five-year vision, Sheraton 2020, which is being backed by a $100 million Sheraton-focused marketing campaign.

The hallmarks of a Grand property include location, the quality of function facilities, rooms and hotel amenities, as well as staff and guest satisfaction. Some properties have been rebranded without refurbishment, with Starwood signaling that the brand identifies Sheraton's best of the best.

"Building upon the brand's strong resonance with travellers in the region, we expect many of Asia Pacific's premier Sheraton hotels to achieve the Sheraton Grand designation, representing the best of the brand," says Vincent Ong, Starwood's senior director of brand management.

He says the move is in line with the goal of 'welcoming 100 Sheraton Grand hotels across the globe by early 2017'.

The initiative is aimed at bringing Sheraton back to the fore as a luxury brand, as well as driving revenue and profit initiatives for property owners and developers.

Sheraton, which has more than 440 hotels in 72 countries, says it plans to open more than 150 new hotels worldwide by 2020.

Among other Sheraton hotels to get the Grand treatment are Sheraton Grand Hangzhou Wetland Park Resort, Sheraton Grand Xishuangbanna Hotel, Sheraton Hangzhou Binjiang Hotel and Sheraton Grand Incheon Hotel. They join properties in Beijing, Bangalore, Rio de Janeiro, Dubai and Edinburgh to bear the Grand brand.

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