Recognized as the hospitality industry’s most innovative lifestyle branding company, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. unveiled a new two-story creative design lab at its global headquarters in Stamford, Connecticut. The Starwood Experience showcases the company’s nine global lifestyle brands, and its history of innovation and design-led approach.
Developed as an “idea lab” for Starwood, The Starwood Experience gives associates, owners, developers, customers and marketing partners a first look at new innovations in two- and three-dimensional design, guest-facing technology, brand programming, event activation in public spaces, and food and beverage initiatives. Starwood’s creative and design teams engage with visitors utilizing working design studios and next generation model guest rooms for brands including Sheraton, Westin, Le Meridien, Aloft, Element and Four Points by Sheraton.
“We developed The Starwood Experience as a way to tell the Starwood story and give our partners a real immersion into how we drive design and creativity and create unique experiences for our guests,” said Phil McAveety, Chief Brand Officer of Starwood Hotels & Resorts. “As importantly, this is a working lab for us to experiment with what’s new and next in a world where brand building is ever more dynamic and fast paced.”
According to McAveety, the Starwood Experience will be change from one day to another. “At any time visitors will see different concepts, prototypes, renderings, materials and models as we design next generation guest rooms, public spaces, spas or even furniture. Likewise, displays, graphics and stories will change and adapt so the space is always showcasing what’s new and fresh.”
“Owners and developers who drive our growth around the globe believe that Starwood’s lifestyle brands and powerful systems lie at the heart of our competitive advantage,” said Simon Turner, President of Global Development for Starwood Hotels & Resorts. “The Starwood Experience not only gives our partners the ability to see and touch our newest designs and programming, but it also brings to life Starwood’s culture in a way that is impossible to capture in a more traditional presentation. We believe this vibrant and engaging space is a unique selling tool within our industry.”
This new design center was conceived of by Starwood’s in-house creative team, led by Mike Tiedy, Starwood’s Senior Vice President of Global Brand Design and Innovation, in conjunction with renowned design firms, HOK NY and Jump Studios. The space complements Starwood’s Tribeca-based design center which debuted in 2010, and serves to further distinguish and articulate Starwood’s unique take on global hospitality. The Starwood Experience came to life as part of the company’s relocation to Stamford in 2011 and is part of Starwood’s pursuit of LEED certification also reinforcing the company’s commitment to reducing energy use by 20% and water use by 30% by 2020.
The Starwood Experience Space
As guests enter the space, the first image they see is Starwood’s core belief statement: WE BELIEVE PEOPLE WANT A BETTER WAY TO EXPERIENCE THE WORLD.
Tiedy said, “The Starwood Experience serves as our rallying cry for innovation and initiative, a proving ground for new ideas, and a way to drive design and hotel development faster and more economically. In addition to creating a dramatic sense of arrival at our global headquarters, we also used every square foot of real estate available to tell our stories.”
On the ground floor, an LED wall features a feed of Starwood news and headlines from around the world. Nearby, a five-panel Global Gallery highlights Starwood’s industry-leading global footprint in 100 countries with a five-panel installation featuring some of the company’s most high profile new hotel properties around the world from Austin to Abu Dhabi, Beijing to Bogota and London to Lhasa.
As guests move to the second floor of The Starwood Experience, they pass through the SPG Tunnel, a passageway that highlights the many innovative partnerships and programming that are at the hallmark of Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) as well as personal stories from SPG members around the globe.
Following the SPG Tunnel, guests enter the inspiring public space of The Starwood Experience where there are four distinct, curated installations, including: a 40-foot Articulated Wall which features the stories and core values of each of Starwood’s nine iconic brands; The Showcase, which is comprised of two separate Corian walls where unique drawer and shelving systems allow for story-telling through physical elements and graphics – the first features a “Brand Storytelling” exhibition and the second is called the “Power of Starwood” which highlights the company’s successful cross-brand, cross-division and cross-hotel programs; and, The Story Wall, which provides an in-depth look at some of Starwood’s latest high-profile brand activations, such as W Hotels Designers of the Future Awards and the Live at Aloft Hotels music program.
A customized meeting space within The Starwood Experience demos next generation meeting technology, including a six-foot tall, 22-foot wide immersion projection screen delivering high-impact presentations.
Additionally, The Starwood Experience is a staging area where visitors can see two- and three-dimensional design work in progress through a combination of eight different design studios and model hotel guest rooms for brands including, Sheraton, Westin, Le Meridien, Aloft, Element and Four Points by Sheraton.