Starwood Hotels has plans for a new upper upscale extended stay brand inspired by Westin Hotels code named “Project ESW.” The new brand will feature a sophisticated, residential product designed to be a refreshing haven in a space rendered rote with look-alike brands and generic features.
Starwood will debut the yet-to-be-named brand to top hotel developers next week at the New York University International Hospitality Investment Conference.
Smart Design Incorporating New Urban Residential Innovations
“Project ESW” will feature signature Westin elements like the famed Heavenly Bed(R), Heavenly Bath(R) and Westin Workout(R) Powered by Reebok, as well as new products thoughtfully designed with the long-term guest in mind. Instead of working with traditional hotel designers, Westin has partnered with Costas Kondylis, a leading Manhattan-based residential architect who has completed more than 45 major towers in New York including Trump World Tower and The Lyric, and interior design firm AvroKO, considered innovators in creating smart space living. “Project ESW,” which will consist exclusively of new-build properties, will feature clean, contemporary, urban-inspired studios and one-bedroom suites incorporating many of the latest innovations in smart apartment design. Highlights include:
—large kitchens featuring sleek design and stainless steel appliances
—custom-designed closets and built-ins
—gourmet pantries with upscale dinner selections, local wines and micro-brews and a variety of healthy food and beverage options
—lobbies designed as “space to live your life” with a variety of vignettes and seating options from Cafe style to communal tables to desks, allowing guests to socialize, have a drink, work, read, etc.
—extra large Westin Workout(R) Powered by Reebok workout rooms
—landscaped terraces and pool areas designed for socializing
—like sister-brand Westin, “Project ESW” hotels will be entirely smoke-free
According to Starwood’s Chief Executive Officer Steven J. Heyer, Starwood initially considered acquiring an existing extended stay brand, but ultimately decided to start from scratch. “The product in this segment is frankly pretty boring. Only an innovative, high quality product can appropriately carry the Westin name. We think Westin has a distinct point of view that lends itself particularly well to extended stay, and by doing it ourselves, we’ve created a fresh concept and a superior product that will appeal to sophisticated travelers who have really had to compromise in the past.”
Starwood to target 150 markets for “Project ESW”
Citing a “white space” that Starwood is filling with the introduction of aloft Hotels and “Project ESW” Heyer said that one million Starwood guests have stayed in an extended stay hotel in the last year, enough to support over 150 “Project ESW” hotels each and every night.
Plans call for the first “Project ESW” hotel to open in Lexington, Massachusetts in late 2007, with a second scheduled shortly thereafter in San Francisco. Over 150 markets have been identified as primary targets, and Starwood anticipates executing at least 25 agreements per year over the next five years.
“We’ve been working with the development community ever since ‘Project ESW’ was conceived and therefore the brand is already endorsed by leaders in the industry,” said Ted Darnall, President of Starwood’s Real Estate Group. “Just as aloft has proven to be a hit with the development community, with over 100 deals in the works and our first hotel expected to break ground this Fall, ‘Project ESW’ enables developers to enter established markets with a new, more upscale product and the muscle of Starwood behind it.”
According to Sue Brush, Senior Vice President of Westin Hotels & Resorts, “Project ESW” is designed to be a place where guests can feel balanced and in control, and able to live their best life while on the road. “We shouldn’t have to put our lives on hold when we travel, particularly over a long period of time. With our new brand, we hope to cater to our guests in a holistic way, providing all the comforts of home, with great design and highly functional space and amenities, so people can follow their routines while pursuing their pleasures and passions.”
Research among frequent business and leisure travelers confirms that consumers believe there is little choice of extended product on the market. Extensive consumer research revealed that guests who choose to stay in extended stay properties are still spending a significant number of their hotel stays in Upper Upscale and Luxury brands. Findings show that as they increase the length of stay, guest’s preference moves from full service hotels to extended stay hotels, although the market currently doesn’t offer many options with the environment and amenities that these guests are used to. It’s not only business travelers who appreciate the benefits offered by an upscale extended stay option, those traveling for leisure children also prefer the facilities and freedom of such an environment. Of those customers surveyed, twice as many prefer the clean contemporary urban decor than the traditional decor offered by most of the current extended stay brands.