W Hotels is Going aloft

Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide and its stylish W Hotels division revealed today at the Phoenix Lodging Conference, the official name and concept details for its much-anticipated new brand in the select-service hotel category: aloft. Conceived by the same W Hotels team that is widely regarded as creators of one of the most successful new brands in decades, the aloft brand will bring this tired, stagnant travel segment to new heights. In the same way W Hotels broke through the clutter of conformity in the upscale hotel arena, aloft will raise the bar in the select-service category, offering urban-inspired, loft-like guest rooms, enhanced technology services, landscaped outdoor spaces for socializing day and night, and an energetic lounge scene.
“We are building on our success and lessons learned from W and reinventing the category,” said Steven J. Heyer, Starwood’s Chief Executive Officer. “aloft will offer travelers a radical departure and a welcome, refreshing alternative to what’s currently out there. We intend to deliver great style, design and functionality, all at an affordable room rate, with a high comfort quotient.”
“Our customers are more sophisticated and they expect more than just a place to sleep. With aloft, we’re shaking things up and offering something fresh, inspiring and ultimately more fun,” said Ross Klein, President of W Hotels Worldwide. “We see aloft as an oasis at the end of the road, a place that’s comfortable, easy and effortless.”
Starwood further announced that five company-owned sites are now in various stages of entitlements or development for aloft. These first aloft properties will be located in Lexington, Massachusetts, Tucson, Arizona, San Francisco Airport, Philadelphia Airport, and Cherry Creek, Colorado. The company also stated that its UFOC, or franchise offering circular, was effective as of today and that it would begin to offer aloft licenses to qualified hotel owners and operators. Starwood anticipates the first hotels to break ground in early 2006 and open in early 2007, with 500 properties worldwide expected by 2012.
Starwood has received overwhelming interest from the hotel development community since announcing the new brand at the New York University International Hospitality Industry Investment Conference held this past June. Twenty-six of the premiere development and ownership groups have executed letters of interest, each expressing their intention to develop at least ten properties. Starwood has made this select group an integral part of the development of the aloft brand.
The aloft hotels brand will revamp the staid same-old, polyester scenario with stylish accommodations for business and leisure travelers. Design visionary David Rockwell and the Rockwell Group, whose award-winning projects include the Kodak Theater, Nobu and the W Union Square, are collaborating on the brand’s design.
With generous nine-foot ceilings and oversized windows, guest rooms will have a decidedly loft-like feel. In addition to the guest room centerpiece—a signature, ultra-comfortable bed for which Starwood’s brands are well known—a well-designed workspace, an mp3 docking station and a flat panel television will further differentiate the aloft guest room. Large stylish bathrooms will feature oversized walk-in showers and amenities created by Bliss.
Starwood has created aloft to be both quiet and inviting, day and night, offering a variety of friendly venues for guests to gather. aloft’s public spaces are designed to draw guests from their rooms with a number of super social offerings. With Relax; a communal space to grab a drink with friends and Fresh air; an open-air area out back, guests can socialize and gather for light meals during the day or night. aloft will also satisfy guest’s needs 24-hrs-a-day with Re:Fuel; a one-stop area offering up food, snacks and drinks to grab and go. For workouts, Train fitness centers or Splash; the indoor or outdoor pool, will start or end guest’s days with a quick work out. The aloft sites will also feature flexible meeting and function space and offer 100% wireless Internet access throughout the properties.
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