Upon meeting Westin's new owners and its employees in Houston shortly after he was hired, Mr. Bartels gave each of them a rose.
"I had just given a speech to them about our future and what I expect," said the 54-year-old native of Hannover, Germany. "I like to work with employees and motivate them."
What will probably motivate Mr. Bartels even more is a $30 million marketing budget and more working capital from Westin's new owners, Goldman Sachs, Nomura Asset Capital Corp. and Starwood Capital Group. That consortium purchased Westin from Aoki Corp. May 12, gaining part and full ownership or leasehold interests in 13 U.S. hotels. Aoki retains interests in nine U.S. and Canadian hotels and the Westin trademark in Asia, but Westin will manage those nine hotels and control the Westin name worldwide.
The hotel management company includes 80 hotels and resorts with 40,000 rooms in 19 countries. Its annual revenues exceed $2 billion.
But Mr. Bartels said he wants to do more. "Without repositioning the brand, we expect to grow in the Western world, Europe and the U.S., through the conversion of other properties and through new builds in Asia and South Africa," he said.
Westin's position in the hotel pecking order lies in the narrow four- and five-star hotel group. It is a notch below Ritz-Carlton and Four Seasons and a notch above Hyatt and Marriott.
"I like where we are now," said Mr. Bartels. "I am not going to take us down and we probably won't go up."
That also could mean that Mr. Bartels isn't considering any new brands for Westin.
While in a similar position for 12 years at Carlson Hospitality Group, Minneapolis, he provided strategic direction and produced significant revenue growth for the company's Radisson Hotels International, Radisson Seven Seas Cruises and several restaurants.
"He franchised the hell out of Radisson," said one hospitality industry source.
Cole & Weber, in Westin's hometown of Seattle, is the chain's agency. But after having been on the job only eight days, Mr. Bartels said he couldn't commit to any new campaigns. Westin has been running a resorts campaign for the past 18 months.
BORN: Sept. 14, 1940, Hannover, Germany.
EDUCATION: Bremen Professional School, Bremen, Germany.
CAREER HIGHLIGHTS: Executive, most recently chairman-CEO, at Carlson Cos., Minneapolis, 1983-1995; previously VP, Commonwealth Holiday Inns in Canada; general manager, Mont Gabrielle Lodge, London; manager, Hotel Crillon, Paris.
PERSONAL: Married to Rochelle.