• Starwood focuses development on timeshare

Starwood Hotel's head of real estate, Ted Darnall, has stepped down with his role being put under the wing of Rip Gellein, the head of the company's timeshare operations.

The move signals clearly the future direction of Starwood's development activity, with the focus on timeshare and fractional ownership rather than standalone conventional hotel product.

Gellein's new job title is president global development and he will have overall management responsibility for the full range of Starwood's real estate related functions.

Starwood CEO Steve Heyer said: \Under Rip's leadership, our real estate and SVO groups will be closely coordinated, reflecting today's trend toward branded mixed-use properties.\

He added: \We believe this will allow us to accelerate our growth and better serve our existing and potential developer clients.\

Darnall is leaving to develop a fund focused on building hotels under the Aloft and Extended Stay by Westin brands. These are Starwood's latest brand developments and ones Darnall himself helped create.

Barely six months ago, Starwood centralised its real estate development structure under Darnall, with all real estate and project management teams reporting into his White Plains office.

The day before the announcement of Gellein's appointment, Starwood said it was adding over 1,600 villas under its Sheraton, Westin and St Regis brands as part of its Starwood Vacation Ownership division. The expansion will bring SVO's portfolio to more than 6,000 villas in total.

Among the new projects are a residence club in New York City and resorts in Hawaii, the Caribbean and Mexico.

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