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by Cheryl-Anne Sturken | January 20, 2012

With development in China in full swing, U.S. hotel companies have now turned their attention to India. Within days of each other, Hyatt Hotels Corp., Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide and Wyndham Worldwide announced ambitious plans to grow their footprint in the country, considered one of the fastest growing hotel markets.

Hyatt plans to introduce its new Hyatt House extended-stay brand, which it unveiled in September 2011, with the opening of the 170-room Hyatt Place Mumbai later this year, making it the first destination to have a Hyatt Place outside of the United States. The hotel will feature a full-service restaurant, several meeting rooms and a business center. The chain also announced that it has signed management agreements for an additional seven full-service and 14 select-service hotels representing five of its brands -- Andaz, Hyatt, Hyatt Place, Hyatt Regency and Park Hyatt -- which would bring the total number of Hyatt properties under development in India to 53. Of those, six hotels totaling 950 rooms will open by year's end, including the 200-room Hyatt Place Bangalore in that city's IT Corridor.

Also introducing a new brand to India is Wyndham, which currently has 14 hotels operating there, including the 154-room Wyndham Grand Agra (with 3,000 square feet of meeting space), which opened just days ago on the outskirts of the Taj Mahal. The company has announced plans to launch its iconic Howard Johnson brand in the country with the development of 35 new-builds, representing 3,000 rooms, by 2017. In addition, Wyndham has 15 properties in the Indian pipeline across its other brands, including the 120-room Ramada Udaipur, which is expected to be completed by 2014.

Meanwhile, Starwood, which currently has 33 hotels in operation in India, said it plans to open another 20 by 2015. But unlike Hyatt and Wyndham, whose expansion relies heavily on the development of midscale brands, Starwood is leading the pack with development in the luxury sector. For example, the company's Luxury Collection brand will have nine hotels in India by year's end, making it the brand's second largest market behind only the U.S.  In addition, the W brand will plant its flag in 2015 with the scheduled opening of the 350-room W Mumbai. The St. Regis brand will make its entry in 2016 with the opening of the 288-room St. Regis Noida, Delhi. "India's breathtaking economic growth and the rise of its middle class have generated a keen appetite for high-caliber global brands," said Vasant Prabhu, Starwood's vice chairman and chief financial officer, in a statement announcing the company's expansion. "We expect to accelerate the expansion of all of our brands across India, where demand for new hotels is expected to exceed supply for the next three years."