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Best Western on track for aggressive Asian expansion

Best Western International has identified Asia, and specifically China, as…

Best Western International has identified Asia, and specifically China, as key geographic regions for significant brand growth according to Tom Higgins, Best Western president and chief executive officer. The announcement was made at Best Western`s fall International Board Meeting here where some 70 Best Western leaders from around the world gathered to discuss global development and strategic initiatives.

Best Western plans to add more than 50 hotels in the next two years throughout Asia. With the most aggressive growth planned for China. Currently, Best Western has eight hotels open in China including: the Best Western Hotel Sun Sun, Macau; Best Western Hangzhou; Best Western Mayflowers Hotel Wuhan; Best Western Shenzhen Felicity Hotel; Best Western Qingdao Kilin Crown Hotel; Best Western Xiamen Central Hotel; Best Western Beijing; and the Best Western Rosedale on the Park, Hong Kong.

Two additional hotels are planned to open this year, one in Xian and the other in Kuming. Plans call for 100 hotels in China by 2007.

While hotel branding is still a relatively new trend in China, as the world`s largest hotel chain, Best Western has identified strategic markets that would benefit from a value-priced global brand, said David Kong, senior vice president Global Strategy and Development.

Development plans in China will focus on the Pearl River Delta, the Yangzhi River Delta and the Baohai Bay region. Our attention also is centered on other economic regions and cities in the southwest, mid-west and northeast as well as major leisure destinations like Haikou, Shanya Island, Guilin and Shuzhou, Kong added.

Best Western is a famous brand with hotels in more locations than any other hotel chain. More than 250,000 people check in to a Best Western hotel every night. Global customers look to Best Western to provide a hotel where they need one. They look to our hotels to deliver quality, consistency and value. Asia, and certainly China, comprise a huge and growing customer base and are exciting travel destinations. From customer and owner perspectives, it makes excellent business sense to grow our brand presence here, added Higgins.

In addition to China, planned Asian development includes new hotels in Korea, Japan, Thailand, Viet Nam and India.

Each of our hotels is independently owned and managed by entrepreneurs who understand the appeal of the communities in which they do business. Best Western hotels are a reflection of the local charm and character of their regions, Kong added. To a developer or owner, Best Western offers great design flexibility while providing the confidence of global quality standards, consistency with 14 BestRequests amenities and services available in every Best Western hotel worldwide, the power of a global brand and the best fees in the hotel industry.

To support its aggressive Asian expansion strategy, Best Western opened an office in Beijing earlier this year headed by William Dong who was recently promoted to Chief Representative, Director of Operations and Development – China. With more than 15 years of hotel development expertise Dong`s responsibilities include overseeing operations and the addition of new hotels to the brand`s growing portfolio of hotels in the Peoples` Republic of China. Before joining Best Western in 2002 as Regional Operations Manager, Dong held positions with Radisson Hotels, Accor Asia Pacific and Furama Hotels in China. Dong also served as seven years in Chinese government as a diplomatic officer.

In addition, Glenn de Souza was promoted to Managing Director-Asia Worldwide Sales. De Souza, who also joined Best Western in 2002, has responsibility for developing corporate and group sales and marketing programs for the region. He is headquartered at Best Western`s offices in Bangkok. De Souza has held senior corporate and regional sales and marketing positions for various international hotel companies including Holiday Inns, Sheraton, Omni Hotels Asia Pacific, Accor Asia Pacific and Furama Hotels and before that was with Pan American Airways.

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