<!--:es-->Sheraton offers free night stay at 86 locations<!--:-->

Sheraton offers free night stay at 86 locations

CHICAGO – The owner of Sheraton hotels will offer thousands of guests a free night’s stay in dozens of North American locations as part of a massive campaign that kicks off Wednesday to highlight the chain’s $6 billion revitalization efforts.

The deal is available for overnight stays on Oct. 23 and will be offered on a first-come, first-serve basis through a company Web site. Eighty-six recently renovated Sheratons in the U.S. and Canada — about 40 percent of the brand’s North American locations — will participate in the promotion.

Additional nights and services will cost extra, but the offer will cover the cost of taxes, fees and surcharges, said Hoyt Harper, senior vice president of brand management at Sheraton’s parent company Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc.

About 2,100 rooms will be available to those who register on Sheraton.com/freenight. Guests will be able to book rooms on the site from Oct. 6 to Oct. 9. Guests who get to the site too late for the free night will be offered a coupon for a room discount.

Sheraton, which is owned by White Plains, N.Y.-based Starwood, hasn’t performed as well as its more posh Starwood-owned siblings W, Westin and St. Regis hotels. The company also acknowledges that many of its Sheraton locations had previously presented a hit-or-miss images to guests.

“In North America, we’ve had a pretty mixed history. We’ve have some great hotels and we’ve have some hotels that were substandard,” Harper said. “This is a new beginning for the brand.”

As part of the effort that was launched in 2007, Sheraton cut underperforming locations from its roster and added or renovated 70,000 Sheraton rooms around the globe. Nearly three-quarters of them were in the U.S. and Canada, and almost half of the brand’s 203 North American locations have been renovated through the effort.

Morningstar analyst Michelle Chang said such an undertaking is vital for hotels, which must constantly update themselves risk losing customers for good.

“If a hotel company doesn’t continually reinvest in their properties, it’s going to lose its luster, and it’s going to look run down,” she said. “And so you have to keep reinvesting in the property to keep it fresh and keep it new and keep it updated.”

Starwood shares climbed 32 cents to $32.98 in midday trading Wednesday.