Starwood Hotels Unveils New Brand

Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide will debut a new hotel brand to provide style, design and energy at comfortable rates. Currently referred to as “Project XYZ”, the brand is being developed by the team that created W Hotels, widely regarded as the most successful new hotel brand in decades. Sharing some of the characteristics of what the industry refers to as select service, XYZ will create a new category leveraging its W lineage and delivering a unique lifestyle experience which has been historically absent at this end of the hotel spectrum. Starwood is unveiling an experiential room to introduce the new brand to select real estate developers attending this week’s New York University International Hospitality Industry Investment Conference.

W’s heritage will be evident throughout XYZ’s properties, from sight, smell, touch, sound and taste, to the integrity of design and materials, and will redefine the select service category in the same way W Hotels broke through the clutter of conformity in the upscale hotel arena. XYZ will feature urban inspired loft-like guest-rooms, landscaped outdoor space for socializing day and night, and an energetic lounge scene, providing a lifestyle alternative to brands like Courtyard by Marriott and Hilton Garden Inn.

“Affordable doesn’t have to be boring as brands like Jet Blue, Mini Cooper, West Elm and Target have proven so brilliantly,” said Steven J. Heyer, Starwood’s Chief Executive Officer. “With the DNA of W, XYZ will democratize design, and offer guests an environment that is extraordinarily social, striking a chord with travelers who crave style and fun on the road, even beyond the boutique trifecta of New York, Miami and Los Angeles.”

First “XYZ” Hotels Scheduled to Open in 2007 and more than 500 by 2015

Starwood’s XYZ concept was born of demand by developers looking to build a W-inspired product at a lower price point in cities like Raleigh-Durham, Tampa, Minneapolis, Palo Alto and Cambridge, MA. Even before formally announcing the concept, Starwood has received letters of interest from more than a dozen of the industry’s premier hotel developers to build more than 100 new XYZ hotels. In addition, the Canyon-Johnson Urban Funds, a joint venture between Canyon Capital Realty Advisors and Earvin Magic Johnson, have signed an expression of interest to develop XYZ properties in densely populated, ethnically diverse cities like Los Angeles, Miami, Chicago, New York and San Diego. The Canyon Johnson Urban Funds are the country’s largest private real estate funds focused on the development of urban properties in underserved neighborhoods. The first XYZ hotels are anticipated to break ground early next year and open in early 2007.

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Residential Urban Design, Backyard and 100% Wireless

At XYZ, guests will have all the comforts of home, and then some. Each new hotel will feature anywhere from 90-180 loft-like guest rooms designed more like a downtown dwelling one might see in a shelter magazine than the tired decor typical in today’s select service hotel rooms. Design visionary David Rockwell and the Rockwell Group, whose award-winning projects include the Kodak Theater, Nobu and the W Union Square, have been selected to collaborate on the brand’s design. Guest rooms will incorporate a sense of whimsy with architectural features including oversized windows and cool built-ins offering storage space and housing lighting and sound systems. The centerpiece of the room will be a signature, ultra-comfortable bed for which Starwood’s brands are well known, plus a workspace that exceeds the market in design and function. Large bathrooms will feature oversized walk-in showers and amenities by Bliss Spa.

To combat the boring, bland and lonely feel of lobbies pervasive in the select service arena, XYZ’s public spaces are designed to draw guests from their rooms with a number of super social offerings. Light-filled “Commons” spaces featuring dramatic water and fire elements, a destination lounge and a comfortable, sunken conversation area designated the “Pit Stop” and a 24-hour “Kitchen” area boasting sweet, savory and healthy prepared food and treats promise to beckon guests day and night. A fitness center and swimming pool or “Splash” will delight travelers and a beautifully landscaped outdoor “Backyard” will serve as a place to hangout over coffee and the paper, eat lunch or have cocktails. One-hundred percent wireless, XYZ properties will open with a first of its kind business concept which will include private business booths, specially equipped for speedy presentation design, color printing and checking e-mail. Hotels will also feature flexible meeting and function space.

“We’re taking a fresh look at an old and tired model, and creating something new and exciting, a total challenge to the status quo,” said Ross Klein, Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer for W Hotels Worldwide. “XYZ is the first authentic reinvention of on the road hospitality in 75 years. Honoring the romance that was once associated with car travel, we will deliver a roadside oasis that doesn’t exist today ...executed with the spin of W heritage.”
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