Friday, May 8, 2009
tastings - aloft style (no charge for event)
May 28th - beer tasting
June 18th - wine tasting
July - to be announced
Augsut 20th - wine tasting
Songwriters Nights begin this month on Saturdays
May 16th - Rachel Pearl - http://www.myspace.com/rachelpearl
May 30th - Bridgette Tatum - http://www.myspace.com/bridgettetatum
Sailor Scott - http://www.sailorscott.com/
June 13th - Sailor Scott- http://www.sailorscott.com
June 27th -
July 11th - Sailor Scott - http://www.sailorscott.com
July 25th -
August 8th -
August 27 - Sailor Scott - http://www.sailorscott.com
We are coming to twitter soon...stay posted....
Saturday, September 6, 2008
Articles in the past 2 weeks have focused on specific hotels including a New York Times feature on aloft Montreal, a Chicago Tribune article on the opening of aloft Chicago O’Hare and a Boston Herald article on aloft Lexington. Other articles featured the newly opened aloft Minneapolis and the soon-to-open aloft Tempe.
Arizona Republic.com – Tempe’s First New Hotel in a Decade Opens Soon – 8/29
...Tempe's first new hotel in 10 years is near completion, and Mayor Hugh Hallman Thursday morning was at a ceremony to mark the "closing in" of the five-story, 136 room "aloft" hotel at Rural Road and Loop 202. The hotel is slated to open in January. "This is our first hotel in a decade, and you can tell the developers can read the numbers, because Tempe has the highest hotel occupancy rate in the Valley," Hallman said. "And now we've got 14 others scrambling to get in because we have a community in the center of it all. The $25 million hotel is being built in partnership with Starwood Hotels & Resorts, Triyar Hospitality and Warburg Pincus Real Estate. Brent LeBlanc, vice president of Starwood, said one visit to the site on the north shore of Tempe Town Lake two years ago convinced him. "This is a beautiful place, a perfect place for our first aloft hotel in Arizona," LeBlanc said "Nearby is ASU's stadium, the lake, downtown Tempe . . . this is excellent for us." Triyar Chief Executive Officer Michael Mahoney said the new hotel will particularly cater to seasoned travelers that want to be able to check in and out quickly, who want high-tech rooms that facilitate electronic communication and who want to be near the airport and freeways…
Elle Quebec – Aloft Story Montreal – 8/28
…The first Aloft hotel, a unique concept in the marketplace, was inaugurated in Montreal. The formula: loft-style rooms that gather the functions of office, mini-entertainment center and bedroom. Large windows, a platform bed and walk-in shower are executed with high design and urban chic, aloft is inspired by W Hotels. It's like home ...only better…
Minnesota Meetings (Blog) - Under the Radar: The New Aloft Minneapolis – 8/27
…Between the W opening two days ago in the Foshay tower and The Hotel Minneapolis opening about a week earlier in the Midland Bank building, the brand new aloft hotel in the Mill District has gotten a little lost in the shuffle. Opened on Aug. 8, aloft is part of the Starwood family and is being marketed as a budget kid sister to the W brand. (“Budget” as in $169 a night versus the W’s $319.) We got a tour this morning with Amy Phillips, director of sales and marketing and despite the price point difference, the W feel is still there. With sleek furniture and electric colors tastefully woven into the design it felt (for lack of a better word) Ikea-esque; stripped down to everything you need and nothing you don’t. The welcome desk includes self-service check in/out stations. Instead of a restaurant, there’s “re:fuel,” a cute 24-hour grab ‘n’ go nook (you can’t really call it a cafeteria) offering bagels, muffins, coffee, sandwiches, salads and the like. Instead of a swanky club there’s “w xyz,” a glowing, color-changing bar in the communal lobby area, which itself is called “re:mix.” The complimentary fitness center and modest indoor pool are dubbed “re:charge” and “splash,” respectively. (Noticing the W-like branding of the amenities?) While it doesn’t have the luxury feel of the W, it’s not supposed to. And it seems a heck of a lot more fun than other hotels in its price range. I’d stay there. The hotel also has a decent sized conference room and a pre-function area and meeting room that can be divided in two or opened up to seat about 90 people in banquet rounds or fewer in a classroom setup. Unfortunately some of the furniture in these spaces still hadn’t arrived and it was the same situation in the upstairs suite, so they seemed a little lackluster compared to the lobby and bar. The aloft Minneapolis is only the first of a handful that began opening around the country in June, so it’s a pretty new brand and an interesting concept. Reminds me of when Target partnered with high-end names to bring good design to the masses. It worked for Target, so it will be interesting to see how the current and future aloft locations fare…
Boston Herald – Find a luxury hotel, in your own back yard – 8/25
… Between tight budgets and torrential downpours, hot summer fun’s been pretty scarce. But there’s still time to find a last-minute swanky summer getaway. Just head to the suburbs. Bedroom communities boast chic hotels these days, giving Boston a run for its money and letting cash-strapped staycationers enjoy city amenities without a colossal price tag and commute. “We’re seeing locals stay here in a big, big way,” said Lou Carrier, president of BOKX 109 American Prime restaurant and pool at the Hotel Indigo in Newton. The boutique hotel, formerly a Holiday Inn, opened in February and features valet parking, a steakhouse, bistro and seasonal outdoor pool complete with private cabanas. “Locals are coming here, renting a cabana for the day, eating at the restaurant at night and sleeping over,” Carrier said. “It’s out of left field, but it’s a bonus that helps us sell out on the weekends.” A new Starwood hotel that opened last month in Lexington - called aloft - features a “sassy, savvy” social space designed by David Rockwell and based on the W hotel brand. Aloft’s neon touches, flat screens, pool tables and hopping bar scene attract as many locals as tourists. The eco-friendly Element, also a Starwood hotel, located across the courtyard from aloft, is the first LEED-certified hotel chain in the country. It boasts an oversized gym, pool, outdoor space and health food. “Both the newly launched aloft and Element hotels offer fantastic lobbies to encourage guests traveling the ability to be alone and together,” said Robin Korman, vice president of marketing for aloft and Element hotels. “Aloft Lexington’s lobby is a great space for local residents to mix, mingle and enjoy signature cocktails at the w xyz bar.”…
Chicago Tribune - aloft: A Comfy, Contemporary Stay – 8/21
…The new Aloft Chicago O'Hare in Rosemont is an odd little hotel. On the one hand, it's exactly what parent company Starwood wants: an affordable spin-off from its W chain, a chic piece of eye candy for the late 20s-early 30s set with the price point of a Hilton Garden Inn. But because of the price, the hotel attracts families unimpressed by Jamiroquai booming through the lounge-style lobby or psychedelic images on LCD screens. During a recent stay, I noticed kids splashing around in Aloft's ground-floor pool and teens hanging out at the hotel bar, ordering sodas. That's when I realized this new hotel had its work cut out for it. Starwood hotels are all about targeting an audience: The W is for the urbane. Sheraton is for the traditionalists. The Westin is for upscale business travelers. And the Aloft? Well, this latest brand seems to have an identity crisis. "You'll definitely see a wide range of clientele," says general manager Rick Ross. I suspect the hotel, the fifth Aloft to open worldwide, is vying for the young and hip who are forced to spend a weekend in the suburbs, either attending business meetings in some nearby corporate park or the latest event to grace the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center, literally minutes away by foot. Either way, Aloft outshines many of its competitors with its mix of up-to-date amenities and affordability. Rooms range from $149 to $229 on a weeknight ($109-$149 a night on weekends). But frankly, I've seen more expensive hotels provide less, like charging for Wi-Fi. Identity issues aside, Aloft does offer a lot of value. In today's market, that's worth mentioning…The hotel's outdoor patio—that's called "the backyard"—should become a draw for locals who enjoy their happy hours in the sun. In fact, Ross is betting on it; he has deejays spinning music Saturdays from 9 p.m. to midnight. "It's very unique and different," he says. "I don't know of that many hotels, outside of the W, that have that feeling." Designers of the Hyatt Regency O'Hare's Red Bar, that gaudy thing, take note. This is how you build a hotel bar…
Travelweek (Canada) – Starwood’s New aloft hotel in Montreal Offers Hip Amenities – 8/21
…The much-anticipated new lifestyle brand, aloft hotels, by Starwood Hotels & Resorts has settled down in the cosmopolitan city of Montreal. Opening this past June as the first aloft to open anywhere in the world, the 136-room aloft Montreal Airport features guestrooms with nine-foot ceilings, oversized windows, platform bed, walk-in showers, wireless Internet access and plug & play, a one-stop connectivity solution that links electronic gadgetry such as PDAs and laptops to a large flat panel LCD television. Designed in conjunction with world renowned David Rockwell and the Rockwell Group, aloft stays true to the W Hotel brand’s heritage, offering atmospheric public spaces designed to draw guests from their rooms to socialize with friends and colleagues. Such public spaces include a communal lobby area and bar, fitness centre and a 24-hour one-stop food and beverage area serving healthy food and snack options. “The sleekness and dynamism of the aloft lifestyle complements the sophistication and style of Montreal, where we are proud to make our global debut,” said Brian McGuinness, vice president of aloft and element hotels worldwide. “Youthful-minded travellers will appreciate the aloft brand’s emphasis on creativity, culture and fun.”…
Travel Daily Asia - aloft Comes to Beijing – 8/20
…The first Asia-Pacific aloft branded property will open in Beijing this September, Starwood Hotels & Resorts have announced. The new aloft Beijing, Haidian will create an affordable accommodation alternative in the Chinese capital and is the latest in Starwood’s rapidly expanding portfolio in the city…
Travel Plus.com (UK) - Starwood Openings in Asia – 8/20
…The first Asia-Pacific aloft branded property will open in Beijing this September, Starwood Hotels & Resorts have announced. The new aloft Beijing, Haidian will create an affordable accommodation alternative in the Chinese capital and is the latest in Starwood’s rapidly expanding portfolio in the city. Starwood Hotels & Resorts has also announced the latest move in their Chinese portfolio expansion, Le Méridien Shimei Bay Beach Resort and Spa. The 275-room resort will be the first international five-star resort in Wanning City, and the first Le Meridien brand resort on Hainan island. Opening is scheduled for late September…
New York Times - Montreal: Aloft Montreal Airport the Basics – 8/18
…Starwood Hotels and Resorts, the company that created the W chain 10 years ago, wants to bring its "boutique hotel" aesthetic to the masses. It is off to a good start, with its first Aloft, a chain that opened in Montreal in early June. Rooms, which go for under 130 Canadian dollars a night, roughly $125 U.S., are cleverly designed, with loads of amenities but a refreshing lack of clutter. And the lobby, which combines elements of a disco, a bar, a game room and a cafe, is a hoot. But Starwood, which plans to build 500 Aloft hotels in the next five years, may have gone too far, reinventing things that didn't need reinventing. Instead of a restaurant, there is an antiseptic grab-and-go buffet that provoked several guests to walk across the street to the Hilton for breakfast. And the corporate chirpiness desk clerks say "Aloha" instead of hello fell flat. THE LOCATION: A short hop from Montreal's international airport so close, in fact, that you could walk from the terminal if there were sidewalks. Downtown Montreal is about 15 miles away. THE ROOM Three weeks after the opening, my room, No. 418, still smelled like paint and solvent (no doubt because the windows in the hotel don't open). The room, about 10 by 14 feet, contained a comfortable king-size bed, a widescreen TV between the two large windows and a box for connecting an iPod, a computer or a camcorder to the TV. The decor was spartan the walls were gray, the concrete ceiling white but an occasional burst of color reminded you this isn't a W. Sadly, the view of the airport perimeter was bleak. But everything inside the room, from the blackout shades (which completely darken the room) to the simple alarm clock (you don't have to read a manual to set it!) was beautifully thought out. THE BATHROOM The toilet and the shower occupy separate compartments, but it would be easier to share the room if you didn't have to pass through one to reach the other. The showerhead was a bit low. The soap and the shampoo are in wall-mounted canisters. THE LOBBY If the rooms are subdued, the lobby goes to the other extreme, with jazzy furniture (olive and pink upholstery), exposed pipes (suggesting a real loft), a pool table (covered in maroon felt) and a bar illuminated with L.E.D.'s that constantly change color. Rock music issues from overhead speakers. ROOM SERVICE There is no room service (or restaurant). Instead, there is an all-day buffet, with prepackaged items like Caesar salad (6 Canadian dollars) and microwavable Campbell's soups. In the morning, there were additional breakfast items like egg patties on English muffins, with a choice of bacon or vegetables (4.50). Oddly, there were no trays or plates, so you have to use paper bags. AMENITIES Every hotel feature has a cutesy name. The lobby is called re:mix. Ask for the buffet, and you're directed to re .fuel. And the small, well-equipped gym is re : charge. The bar is called "w xyz," suggesting a W for the younger generations. BOTTOM LINE If the design-savvy retailer Target opened a hotel, this is what it would look like. Rooms are about 129 Canadian dollars on weekdays, less on weekends
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
MSNBC.com did a big feature on aloft and element, providing an interesting “compare and contrast” which helps the traveler appreciate the décor, amenities and ambience of each.
aloft Philadelphia opened with a big bash on 8/8/08 at 8 PM (how lucky is that?). Celeb guests included Christian Soriano from Project Runway, DJ Jazzy Jeff (of Fresh Prince of Bel Air fame) who spun the tunes and former model and current Howard Stern fiancée Beth Ostrosky. The event garnered significant press in Philadelphia newspapers, radio, TV and magazines. Nina Timani, aloft Philly director of sales and marketing, orchestrated a aloft-class evening which also included a silent charity auction of pillowcases designed by stars such as Conan O’Brien, Barbara Walters, Bon Jovi and Nancy Sinatra and a fashion show with outfits provided by Philadelphia boutiques. A panel of judges voted on which boutique’s styles best reflected aloft hotels’ sassy, savvy style.
Congrats to aloft Chicago O’Hare which opened on August 7. Best wishes to aloft Beijing and aloft Portland as they count down the days til opening!
Please let me know if there are others in your organization who would like to be added to the distribution list.
Robin KormanVice President Marketing aloft hotels
Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc1111 Westchester AvenueWhite Plains, NY 10604t. 914 640 3615 f. 914 640 3615 alofthotels.com – discover the new tWist in travel
Charlotte Observer – Ballantyne aloft Expected to Be Ready for Fall 2009 – 8/15
…Developers and politicians recently took part in the groundbreaking for the 135-room aloft Charlotte Ballantyne hotel, schedule to open fall 2009. Known for stylish living, aloft rooms feature loft-like ceilings, high-tech work spaces, large walk-in showers and large flat-panel TVs…It will be on Ballantyne Corporate Place, adjacent to Ballantyne Resort…
TV and Radio Broadcasts – Aloft Philadelphia Grand Opening Bash
aloft Philadelphia - CBS 3 Eyewitness News at 4
aloft Philadelphia - CBS Eyewitness News at 11
KYW News Radio - Airport Hotel Opening to Benefit Phila. Mural Arts Program – 8/14
… A star-studded celebration was opening a new hotel on Friday night at the Philadelphia International Airport. The opening also benefits the Philadelphia Mural Arts program. Nina Timani, director of sales and marketing for the new aloft hotel opening at Philadelphia International Airport, says aloft is known for its high tech rooms, self-serve, and specialty foods. But Timani says aloft is also known for reaching out to the artist community in each city. She remembered seeing the murals of Philadelphia in a film and asked the Mural Arts program for prints: "So I'm getting 25 of their paintings, which I'm going to put on my special wall, and all proceeds will go to Mural Arts." Jennifer McCleary of Mural Arts says there are prints of some famous murals: "We have Peace Wall, which is one of our first and most iconic murals which is in the Grays Ferry neighborhood of Philadelphia."…
Hotel Designs - aloft Hotels to Make Stylish East Coast Debut in Philadelphia – 8/14
… Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. and its much anticipated new lifestyle brand, aloft hotels, today announced the newest aloft hotel, the 136-room aloft Philadelphia Airport, will open on August 8, 2008. The opening will be celebrated in style with a VIP launch bash on Friday, August 8, 2008 from 8-11pm. The party will feature special appearances by Beth Ostrosky and Philadelphia's own DJ Jazzy Jeff. Invited guests include Governor Rendell, Mayor Nutter and other influencers from the Greater Philadelphia region. "This hotel will be like none other in the Philadelphia market and our launch bash will be the biggest party in the City of Brotherly Love this summer," said Nina Timani, Director of Sales and Marketing, aloft Philadelphia Airport. "As our hotel will be a true oasis in style and creativity, so will our kick-off into the market." Located only 1/2 mile from the Philadelphia International Airport, aloft Philadelphia Airport offers a fresh, fun and affordable way to enjoy Philadelphia and all of the historical sites and culture it has to offer...
My Downtime.com (Blog) - Agogo at the aloft Philadelphia – 8/14
… In the beginning of August, we were at the aloft Lexington and loved it! This past weekend we booked the opening of the aloft Philadelphia airport. Out of all the hotels that I have been in, I truly enjoy just hanging in the lobbies of the alofts. In fact, I am wrote this part of the entry as I am sipped on my Lychee martini in the wxyz bar. The pool was very relaxing. We particularly like the “cabana” seating area for the pool. I have to tell this story, because I think this sums up the aloft experience and the type of people that it attracting. When we were taking the elevator back to our room, there were other guests commenting on the “squishy” floor tiles on the elevator’s floor. Both of the guests had stated that they stayed at alofts previously - one at the Montreal, the other at Lexington. Both agreed that these hotels were “unique”. I agree - there is a comfort and uniqueness that makes this hotel unlike hotel chains. I have only had similar experiences at boutique hotels in large cities. The fact that aloft has captured this sentiment is going to make it go far…
Elliott (Blog) - 8 things I like about Aloft Hotels – 8/14
… Aloft Hotels is billed as a new high-design/low-cost brand from Starwood Hotels & Resorts. I stayed at one this weekend in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif. Here are eight things I like about it. 1. A pool table in the lobby. Who says “low-cost” can’t also be cool? 2. Where did they get those groovy sofas in the reception area? 3. The squishy blue tiles in the elevators that makes you think you’re walking on water. 4. Sleek European design at a fraction of the cost. If Ikea opened a hotel, this is what it would look like. 5. This box plugs into all of your devices and works with the in-room TV. I want one. 6. Feather duvets. Just like staying at Mom’s place in the Swiss Alps. 7. Is that a cow above my bed? 8. Heads up! Now that’s what I call a shower…
Lodging (Leaders & Visionaries) - A Lofty Development Goal – 8/13… Brian McGuinness spearheads Starwood’s purpose-driven entries into new service categories. When Starwood Hotels & Resorts recently announced the opening of its first aloft property in Montreal, it was the culmination of a long buildup for the much ballyhooed lifestyle brand. Along with the company’s new Element brand, Starwood is entering new service categories with style and substance. By managing the development of these two brands, Brian McGuinness has been overseeing a trans-formation in how the hotel company is addressing the wants and needs of a changing demographic of travelers. While Element, inspired by the Westin hotel brand, is a new-type of extended-stay brand, which promotes an upscale environment, aloft, which is a W-inspired brand, offers high style and design with functional attributes. According to the company, it is poised to redefine the select-service category. McGuinness serves as vice president of both brands and he says both aloft and Element are intended to bring a different type of strategy to the industry. “We believe the industry is in a difficult situation with its brands,” McGuinness says. “The brands have not evolved or kept with the pace of the consumer. That being said, many companies are retrofitting old concepts with semi-new concepts. This is challenging, as the total brand experience is not delivered and the experience is flawed. Where Starwood is heading is different. We have developed two new brands to address the needs of the consumer.” McGuinness says the company wanted to enter select-service in its own way. “We determined that if we wanted to do it right, we needed to do it ourselves—brand new, purpose-built and next generation,” he says. A native of New England, McGuinness has been with Starwood since 1997. He briefly left the company in 2002 to undertake a personal entrepreneurial endeavor, but returned to the company to help create and launch the new brands. In the process, he developed a definite philosophy for brand building. “Our philosophy starts with authenticity and ends with relevance and execution” he says. “What we mean by that is simply, develop a concept that speaks to the market opportunity and deliver it honestly.” To that end, McGuinness identifies clear trends in the hospitality industry. He believes the industry is heading toward open spaces, technological advancements and a total guest experience. He also says, “Make sure you have a great bed and bath.”…
MSNBC.com - New breed of hotels links lodging and lifestyle – 8/12
... Riddle me this: What separates a stylish new hotel for eco-oriented families from a stylish new hotel for tech-savvy singletons? Answer: A parking lot. At least that’s the case in Lexington, Mass., where a pair of sister properties from Starwood Hotels & Resorts opened across the asphalt from each other last month. Offering new twists on extended-stay and select-service lodging, respectively, Element and Aloft, it seems, aren’t just places to bunk down for the night. They’re also a roadside Rorschach test for travelers in search of lodging that fits their lifestyle. Easy living and an eco-chic aesthetic Stepping through the double sliding-glass doors of the Element Lexington on an August afternoon is like passing through an airlock between a sauna and a sleek and spacious living room. Banks of large windows bathe the lobby in natural light, multiple sitting areas accentuate the open space and nature-themed accents underscore the eco-chic motif. As Starwood’s entry into the extended-stay market, the hotel is designed to provide an upscale residential ambience. (It’s “Inspired by Westin,” in company parlance.) There’s an indoor pool, fitness center and a grab-and-go pantry that stocks healthy convenience foods, beer and wine and small bins filled with bulk nuts, candies and granolas. The hotel’s 123 suites range from studios to two-bedroom units, all of which feature platform-mounted Heavenly Beds, spa-inspired bathrooms with glass shower enclosures and kitchenettes with full-size refrigerators, two-burner stoves and dishwashers. Swivel the 32-inch LCD TV toward the bed and you can fall asleep to Leno, Letterman or a host of on-demand movies just like you do at home. It’s all offered with a distinctly “green” tint that becomes more apparent over time. The Energy Star–rated appliances and abundant recycling bins. The dual-flush toilets (to cut down on water use) and wall dispensers for bath amenities (no more barely used bars of soap). You may not notice the recycled materials in the furniture, but it’s hard to miss the saltwater in the pool (no chlorine) and the reserved parking spaces for hybrid vehicles. And if that doesn’t work, there’s always the Aloft across the parking lot. Business digs for dot-commers. If Element is a little bit of home on the road, then the 136-room Aloft offers a slice of city life amid the ‘burbs. There’s the edgy decor, the exposed ductwork in the lobby and a steady stream of musical remixes — Alicia Keys, Sheryl Crow and the like — in the background. Add in a pool table, Starbucks-like sitting areas and an ultra-lounge-style bar and it’s obvious you’re not at Motel 6. Instead, you’re in what the phrase-makers at Starwood call “a vision of W Hotels” — a place where cool design and cutting-edge technology are given equal weight and travelers who enjoy both can set the tone of their stay. At check in, for example, you can visit the circular front desk (designed to break down the traditional barrier between guests and staff) or use a self-service kiosk that will issue your key card without human interaction. The rooms themselves are modern and modular — think upscale dorm room à la über-designer David Rockwell — and feature plug and play “jack packs” so you can enjoy your personal playlist or movie library through the 42-inch flat-screen TV. Many guests, though, seem to gravitate to the lobby (and the adjacent outdoor seating area overlooking the indoor pool). In the morning, you can grab a fresh muffin and coffee to go or sit down with a hot breakfast sandwich in the pantry area — either way, you pay for it at the front desk — and in the evening, you can linger over appetizers and cocktails (or your laptop) in the lounge. It’s all very millennial, of course, and whether there are enough lifestyle-focused travelers out there to support projects like Aloft, Element and others from competing companies is an open question. All I know is that after a tiring day on the road, anything that offers a refreshing change from the same-old, same-old sounds good to me.
CBS3 TV - Aloft Philadelphia – 8/11
Podcast KYW Newsradio 1060AM - Aloft Philadelphia – 8/11
The Beat (ProMedia.Travel) - Aloha! Starwood's aloft Welcomes Business Travelers – 8/11
… If you haven’t yet heard about the new Starwood Hotels & Resorts brand aloft, you may be living under a rock. In one of the more aggressive marketing campaigns this year, Starwood has been notifying the whole world about this W-like brand--I, for one, get multiple press releases every day! During the National Business Travel Association's annual convention in Los Angeles last week, a select group of reporters was given the opportunity to tour the Rancho Cucamonga property in California, but instead of driving the 40 miles from the L.A. Convention Center to the property, Starwood rented a helicopter. While my first helicopter ride was memorable, I was left wondering if aloft is ideal for business travelers. It's debatable. Opened in June, the 136-room Rancho Cucamonga property already serves 10 corporate accounts, according to the general manager. With about nine Fortune 500 corporate offices close by, this out-of-the-ordinary location expects to book travelers coming in from LAX and Ontario airports. Overall, about 80 percent of those who were staying at the hotel were business travelers, which could increase after the 2009 corporate hotel negotiation season. Those arriving are greeted with an "aloha!" Perhaps due to some sort of tie-in with Hawaii? Nope. The aloft folks think that such a welcome creates "a breezy environment." Decorated in bright pastels, the trendy “living room” commonly known as the lobby is equipped with a pool table, 24-hour “grab and go” kitchen area with food priced under $10 and a fully stocked bar named "w xyz" with signature drinks like the “brown-eyed girl.” Check-in can be completed at either of the two kiosks, which can produce room keys and print airline boarding passes. The guestrooms were neat and included free wired and wireless Internet, a flat screen television, stand-up shower with eco-friendly soap dispensers and a box to plug in all of your electronics without having to look for outlets. However, somewhat noisy air-conditioning units, small closets and cramped rooms may deter some. Also, the business center consisted of three computers located in a corner of the lobby, which might not be ideal for doing anything but checking email. From "Brussels to Bangkok," aloft properties are popping up all over. Starwood plans to open 18 in 2008 and more than 50 in 2009…
Budget Travel - Brand news: Two innovative new hotel chains to watch – 8/11
… From the September 2008 issue of Budget Travel: Starwood's first Aloft and Element hotels are opening this summer, sporting a trendy design and amenities such as self-service check-in kiosks and a touch-screen concierge. Aloft hotels are in about a dozen cities [Montreal was the first one]; Element is currently only in Lexington, Mass…
Global Traveler Blog - Traveling in Style – 8/11
… I have been all over the place the last two weeks - first in LA with the rest of the GT team and then in the British Virgin Islands on a media tour with the Zimmerman Agency. While I was away I had the pleasure of seeing how the other half fly and I must admit, it makes commercial planes and other modes of transportation look a bit unappealing. While in Los Angeles, I had the pleasure of visiting the first Aloft Hotel. Located in Rancho Cucamonga, CA, Starwood chartered us to the hotel via helicopter. The view of Los Angeles from the helicopter was fantastic and the trip was quick, convenient and fun! Why fly any other way? The newest Starwood brand, Aloft, has a lot to offer travelers. The funky decor is minimal, yet comfortable and each hotel will offer a fitness area, a community area with fireplace, a bar, meeting space and a Grab and Go food area. I think the Grab and Go area will be especially popular among hotel guests as it allows them to grab delicious salads, sandwiches and drinks and enjoy them at their leisure, wherever they want and when they want. While providing great accommodations for the guests, Aloft will also serve the community, welcoming residents to hang out and play pool, board games and enjoy great cocktails. The chain, springing up all over the world in 2009, will truly offer a hip and affordable alternative to travelers on the go…
Philadephia Inquirer - Boutique hotel opens at Philadelphia airport – 8/8
…It's hardly the best of times for the travel industry, but that hasn't stopped Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc. from shelling out big bucks - to the tune of $30 million - for a brand-new upstart at Philadelphia International Airport. The new Aloft, described by its Starwood creator as "having the DNA of a W hotel" - a reference to Starwood's other upscale brand - makes its official debut today at the airport. It sits on a 16.2-acre, Starwood-owned parcel that also is home to a Four Points by Sheraton and a Sheraton Suites hotel, both owned and operated by Starwood. But the Aloft boasts its own lingo, an ultrathin staff (on average 32 full-time employees per hotel), and a unique look that sets it apart from the other Starwood hotels. For instance, its indoor pool is called "splash," its grab-and-go food and beverage counter is "re:fuel," and the hotel's fitness room is "re:charge." And, please, refer to those who remake your bed in the morning not as housekeeping, but as "re:fresh." The Aloft charges the most among the three Starwood airport hotels, about $20 more per room than the Sheraton Suites and $40 more than the Four Points. An average weeknight stay will run about $189 at Aloft, and $149 on weekends. The boutique hotel was going after the upscale, frequent individual traveler, who is tech-savvy and can appreciate its "in-touch" 24/7 computer terminals, and kiosks with touch-screen technology to check in. Aloft general manager Patrick Sanchez said the Aloft customer spends little time in his room and, instead, prefers socializing in the hotel's ultra-lounge-like lobby, called re:mix that features the trendy w xyz bar and a pool table. "If you look at it from a family point of view, it will be the good-looking, very popular, younger brother of the other Starwood Philly airport hotels," said Sanchez, 50, who also oversees the Four Points at the airport with 177 rooms, and Sheraton Suites with 251. The Aloft concept will be totally new in Philadelphia, which has no W hotels, said Sanchez, a 28-year Starwood employee, who opened the Sheraton Society Hill in 1986 as food and beverage director. But the Aloft debuts at a difficult time.Andrew Zarnett, a gaming and lodging analyst with Deutsche Bank AG in New York, said a soft economy was lowering domestic hotel occupancy."Whether or not the softness continues, higher airfares will lead to reduced travel, translating into lower occupancy," he said.Starwood, Zarnett said, "like other hotel companies is experiencing pressure on its occupancy levels and also cash flows, but the company has an extremely strong balance sheet that provides it with great flexibility" to grow its business. Demand for the Philadelphia airport rooms was down 7.4 percent through the first six months of the year, according to PKF Consulting, of Center City, which tracks the regional hotel industry. This despite airline passenger traffic through Philadelphia being up 1.5 percent through the first four months of the year. For April, airport hotel-room demand was about even, according to PKF; May demand was down 5.6 percent; and June was off 8.7 percent. "Demand in hotel rooms has slid in May and June, which is probably a sign of the economy," said Peter Tyson, vice president of PKF Consulting. He said July numbers had not been released yet. "It's obviously not the best time for a new hotel to open at Philly airport," he said. But despite this, Tyson said, the airport-stadium market has historically rebounded well from downturns and additions to supply, compared with other areas in the city."The market should quickly absorb the Aloft," he said, "and its overall occupancy should rebound relatively quickly to regain its usual top spot." Sanchez said his two existing properties, the Four Points and Sheraton Suites, even before their recent face-lifts, usually ran 85 percent occupancy year-round. "There is a demand, especially here at the airport," he said, "so we didn't feel bringing in and introducing the third of nine Starwood brands would cannibalize one of the two." Sanchez said there was another silver lining in an otherwise depressed travel sector: He is hoping the extended-stay, lower-airfare wars heating up among the major carriers could help make the intimate, five-floor Aloft a player in the local airport-stadium market. "We are seeing that, because of the prices by the airlines for tickets, there are people who are actually extending their stay" to save on airfares, he said. "That's actually to our benefit." Of the Aloft brand, Tyson described it as "very chic, almost a mid-market-type boutique hotel with a streamlined food-and-beverage element." The Philadelphia Aloft becomes the 21st hotel in the airport-stadium market, and its 136 rooms will push overall inventory there to 4,232 rooms, according to the Greater Philadelphia Hotel Association. Starwood is pouring $50 million into its three Philadelphia airport properties, including the $30 million price tag for the new Aloft. There has already been $20 million in renovations at the two existing properties, completed last month, including new guest rooms at both. The Philadelphia airport Aloft is the fifth to roll out this year and is among about 90 planned worldwide by Starwood. The first opened in Montreal in May, followed by Alofts in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.; Chicago O'Hare Airport; and Lexington, Mass. One is being built in Beijing, he said. Mount Laurel is to get an Aloft along its famed Hotel Row in September 2009.Tyson confirmed that there was a certain buzz in the industry about Aloft. "People want to see it, touch it, and most importantly, see how it performs against the more-established older brands," he said. "That we won't know for another several months."
enRoute Magazine (Canada) – Montréal – 8/7
…Stay at aloft, hip accommodation adjacent to Montreal – Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport (500 Boulevard McMillan, 514-633-0900
Austin American-Statesman - First of Four Hotels to Get Underway At the Domain – 8/6
Work on a six-story Aloft boutique hotel at the Endeavor project is expected to start in about a month. That hotel will be a joint venture of Open Hospitality Partners, a Dallas-based firm, and Lodgeworks of Wichita, Kan. Developers have closed on the land and should break ground in about a month, said Mark Masinter, president of Open Hospitality…The hotel market in Northwest Austin is strong, with a 7.3 percent increase in the average daily room rate in the first five months of the year, to $116.73, according to PKF Consulting…
Hotel Chatter - Starwood Continues World Takeover with 100th China Hotel – 8/6
…Well, in case there was any doubt that the crappy economic climate and dismal hotel occupancy rates have thwarted Starwood's efforts to take over the whole entire world, cast your fears aside. Their decision to scrap a couple of Alofts is no indication that they'll be doing anything but forging on full-speed ahead across the rest of this planet. And this week, they're toasting to the newly-conquered Republic of Starwood -- formerly known as China. But seriously: Starwood announced their 100th hotel in China yesterday, a milestone they've reached with the signing of the Sheraton Beijing Dongcheng. The new property will have 470 rooms and will be a part of the Global Trade Center development. Oh, and in case you were wondering about the math:
In addition to the 43 hotels Starwood currently operates in China, Starwood has 57 new properties scheduled to open. These include 22 Sheratons, 12 Four Points by Sheratons, eight Westins, five W hotels, four St Regis, three Le Meridien hotels, two aloft hotels and one Luxury Collection hotel. 57 old + 43 new = 100. 100 Starwood hotels in one country = step one toward world domination. Right? One area they haven't yet conquered? The interwebs! Starwood, you should really ask Bill Marriott how to handle that one. Just kidding. Sorta.
New York Post.com (Blog) – Checking In: aloft Lexington – 8/5
…Millions of things have been said about Starwood's new aloft brand, rolling out across the continent this summer. You read very few of these things that were said on this blog or in the Post travel section. That is because so many other people were talking, and when lots of other people talk about something, I feel less inclined to add my two cents. Particularly when the something they are talking about is nothing more than a hypothetical. You are lost, yes? Okay. Once there was W Hotels. Those are quite expensive these days. Starwood, the parent of the W brand, decided to roll out a more affordable offshoot, the type of cheap build that could conceivably end up as the off-ramp address of choice for a new generation of business and leisure travelers…I was going to post Friday, but upon checking in, I realized that to really know how it was, I would need to stay in a similarly-priced old-generation property, for purposes of perspective. So I did - I checked into a Hampton Inn…It wasn't until I checked out of the Hampton Inn Coventry Behind The Applebees that I knew how I felt about aloft. After all was said and done, I liked aloft a little more than I did while I was there. First off, aloft is pretty cool. Let's give it that. The lobby, lounge and bar areas are inviting and colorful. Self check-in is also cool. Like across the street at Element, the new groove is lots of natural light and communal settings -- look through a wall of glass into the courtyard and beyond into the pool area, with a fitness center facing that. Very fun. Relaxing, no. The hotel attracts exactly the crowd it was after - young and loud. That's fine. They've got to stay somewhere. Interestingly, the hotel was quite busy, but we didn't hear anyone once upstairs. This may have something to do with the room design, my favorite thing about the hotel…Essentially, while aloft was a jolt to the senses at first, once I stayed in the musty, smoky Hampton Inn room with an old television and dusty drapes, I realized that if given the choice between the two at a freeway exit in the near future, I'd pick aloft. Here's the thing, though: I wouldn't like either of them terribly much. After all, how excited is one supposed to get about a cheap roadside flop -- dolled up or no? Manage your expectations…
New York Post.com (Blog) – First Look: Element Hotels – 8/5
…If you travel at all, or read about travel at all, you have likely been unable to avoid hearing a great deal about Starwood's new aloft brand. Pitched as a fun and affordable version of the successful W Hotels, we've been starting to see locations pop up this summer - first Montreal, now a total of four properties, including one in Lexington, Massachusetts, near Boston. Less in the media spotlight is a hotel that opened literally across the driveway from one of the very first aloft properties. Of course, we speak of Element. What's that, you say? Well, simple. Starwood never had an extended stay brand. Extended stay, to be honest, has been kind of a disaster. Think of your options. They're all relentlessly Grandma, from the cheeseriffic Homewood Suites by Hilton (which I will confess to liking a great deal) to Marriott's workhorse Residence Inn, many of which feel like the apartment complex the hero of the movie Office Space lived in, and I do not mean this in a kind way. In short, extended-stay offerings have been relentlessly uncool, is what I am trying to say. Starwood thinks it can change this. Can it? The arrival is certainly impressive. (Check out my lame photo gallery, here.) The lobby is bathed in natural light. You look in through a wall of windows past the seating and dining areas, straight out to the patio and beyond to the covered pool, housed in an almost biosphere type eco-friendly hut. (Oh, I almost forgot. Everything about the brand screams GREEN, from the green logo to the powersaver appliances to the Hybrid Car Parking Only to the dull, white light of the energy saver bulbs that are in every - and I do mean every - light fixture in the rooms.) I like the lobby, though. Really, I do. Everybody can see everybody…
Star Tribune - 2 Hotels for Biz Travelers Open – 8/4
…Two major hotel companies expanded their Twin Cities presence last week, opening full-service lodgings targeting business travelers. The 150-room Sheraton St. Paul Woodbury Hotel is at the prime intersection of Interstates 94 and 494, about 8 miles from the capital city's downtown business district and about a mile from 3M Co. headquarters. The Hotel Minneapolis, a 222-room hotel at Fourth Street and Second Avenue in downtown Minneapolis, is a Doubletree hotel, which is part of the Hilton Hotel network. The Sheraton was developed by JLT Inc. and Wischermann Partners and is the latest of several area hotels recently opened or under construction by Sheraton's parent company, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. in downtown Minneapolis. The Westin Minneapolis, a Starwood Luxury Collection Hotel, opened in the Ivy condominium and hotel project near the convention center. Opening later this summer are a W Hotel, in the renovated Foshay Tower, and an Aloft Hotel, near the Guthrie Theater. In addition to the Hotel Minneapolis, Hilton will open a Hilton Garden Inn near the convention center later this year. Earlier this year it opened a 256-room Hilton in Bloomington, at I-494 and France Avenue. The new Sheraton is the first full-service hotel to be built in the east metro area in at least 20 years, according to Paul Wischermann, whose Minnetonka-based company will manage the hotel. "The Woodbury area has evolved, with enough surrounding development to support a hotel," he said. The hotel expects that about 90 percent of weekday customers will be business travelers, who previously have used hotels in downtown St. Paul and Minneapolis as well as the Bloomington strip, said Hoyt Harper, senior vice President for Sheraton. "There just hasn't been very much available to them in the east metro area until now," he said…
Hotel Business - Aloft Comes To South Carolina at Charleston Airport – 8/4
…Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. has opened the Aloft Charleston Airport & Convention Center here. The 136-room hotel was developed and will be managed by SREE Hotels, LLC.It is the first Aloft hotel to open in South Carolina and one of a number of airport locations scheduled to open in Philadelphia, Dulles, Portland, Denver, Baltimore, Phoenix, Jacksonville and Orlando…
GlobeSt.com - Starwood Opens New Sheraton in Twin Cities – 8/4
… Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide Inc. has opened the 150-room Sheraton St. Paul Woodbury Hotel here in the East Metro submarket. Wischermann Partners Inc. partnered with the company for the hotel, and will serve as manager, and the St. Paul-based JLT Group Inc. was the developer. The property is at 676 Bielenberg Dr., at the east end of the Twin Cities area. The new property includes amenities such as 14-foot-tall entry ceilings, a WiFi-linked lobby, a club lounge, fitness center and modern rooms. The cost of development was not available, and hotel officials did not return calls in time for comment. The hotel joins four other Sheraton-branded locations in the Twin Cities area. Starwood also has Westin and aloft-brand hotels in the Minneapolis Downtown. The new hotel is part of Starwood’s plans, announced in April, to open 54 new Sheratons totaling about 20,000 rooms throughout North America by 2009. The company’s goal is to open a hotel every 12 days under the $2-billion expansion plan. Hotel companies have been seemingly untouched by the current economic crisis affecting all other property markets. New construction pipeline records have been set for the past few quarters, with new rooms totaling 125,442 during the first three months of 2008, according to Portsmouth, NH-based Lodging Econometrics…
aloft Hotel Philadelphia
Hotel Chatter - DJ Jazzy Jeff to Host the Opening of the Aloft Philadelphia – 8/1
… Starwood's attempt at world domination continues next Friday, August 8th, with the opening party for Aloft Philadelphia Airport. Just to make sure this debut gets all the attention it can, Starwood has brought out the big guns: an appearance by Philadelphia's own DJ Jazzy Jeff. Really, how can you miss that? (Well, you will, if you haven't been invited.) Pennsylvania-born model Beth Ostrosky, P.A. Governor Edward Rendell and Philly Mayor Michael Nutter also are expected to attend. The festivities also will include a fashion show featuring designs from Philadelphia boutiques, a celebrity-signed pillowcase auction to benefit the Philadelphia Mural Arts Program and a preview of the art set to be featured in the Philadelphia Mural Arts Program's 25th anniversary exhibit. By now you know how Aloft operates, so we'll just give you the rundown of the Philadelphia property. It's about a half-mile from the airport and about five miles from Center City. If you happen to be driving in, you can clear all the dead bugs from your windshield at the hotel's self-service car wash. Its 136 rooms are pet-friendly and though the opening bash is August 8, you can't check in until August 9. As the say in Aloftland, Aloha Aloft Philadelphia Airport!...
San Francisco Examiner - Midscale Hotels – 8/1
…Boutique Hotels: Aloft Hotels to make East Coast debut Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide announced this week that a 186-room aloft Philadelphia Airport will open Aug. 8. Located a half-mile from the Philadelphia International Airport, the hotel will feature urban-influenced design, accessible technology and guest rooms with loft-like, 9-foot ceilings and oversized windows. For more information, visit www.alofthotels.com...
Philadelphia Magazine - Hotel Happenings – 8/1
…It’s not looking like the fabled W Hotel is actually — like, ever — going to open in Center City. Ground hasn’t been broken and phone calls are not being returned. (All this hush-hush drama reminds me of another W, no?) And here at 1818 Market Street, the Good Life style team is coming to terms with the fact that we won’t ever get a Bliss Spa — they come in many Ws — or their ouch-less, razor-burn-less bikini waxes. But, there has been some actual exciting hotel news and it does include a W. Sorta. Next week, August 8th, marks the official opening of Aloft, Starwood’s budget-friendly, very Euro-like hotel concept at Philadelphia International, shown. In true Starwood fashion, it’s sleek and sophisticated, has an indoor pool, and is pet-friendly. (Oh yeah, and they’ll wash your car, too.) Splurge for the high-end rooms — they are still less than $200 a night. We’ll keep you updated on more Aloft area openings…
Globe St.com - Starwood Unveils $30M, 136-Room Hotel – 8/1
…Starwood Hotels & Resorts is debuting the first Philadelphia-area aloft hotel. The $30 million, 136-room hotel near the Philadelphia Airport is set to open on Aug. 8, 2008. Aloft is Starwood’s new lifestyle brand of limited service hotels, which offer most of the amenities of full service hotels but typically do not have a restaurant or 24-hour room service. "We decided to do a twist on limited service," says Nina Timani, director of sales and marketing for the new aloft. "Clients today are busy; they don’t have time to sit down in a restaurant, especially if their stay is short. It makes it more convenient for the traveler and more cost effective." Located less than a mile from Philadelphia International Airport, the hotel is geared toward corporate travelers. According to Timani, the airport area is booming in Philadelphia, making it a good location for aloft. "If you look at reports, the Philadelphia hotel market is down but the airport area is not, so there are people still coming into this area, and there are a lot of big companies nearby. It’s good for people to be able to fly in, book into the hotel, and fly out. It’s a very convenient location," says Timani. The hotel, which was designed in conjunction with David Rockwell of the Rockwell Group, features 87 king rooms and 49 double queen rooms with nine-foot ceilings. In addition, the hotel offers a communal lobby area with a bar, w xyz, the re:charge fitness center, an indoor pool and re:fuel, a one-stop food and beverage area that is open 24 hours a day. The hotel also boasts free WiFi and a number of bonus features for guests traveling with pets. This is the 14th aloft hotel to open in the US, and the 16th aloft overall. More than 70 additional aloft hotels are under construction or are being planned in the US, Asia, Europe, Canada and the Middle East. Most are scheduled to open before the end of 2011. "We hope to get some guests from Center City," says Timani. "This is a new twist on travel. We foresee even in a declining market that there’s a client out there who wants us. "We’re very excited about this brand," she continues. "I think it’ll bring a lot of life to the Philadelphia market. We’ve had a lot of anticipation for our arrival and I think it’s going to do very well in this market. It has great potential."…
Philadelphia Inquirer.com - Briefly Noted – 8/1
…Model/Howard Stern fiancee Beth Ostrosky and Philly's DJ Jazzy Jeff are due at Aug. 8's opening party for the 136-room aloft Philadelphia Airport hotel. The party will include an auction of celebrity-designed pillowcases to benefit the Philadelphia Mural Arts Program. Among signers/designers: Jay Leno, G. Love, Jimmy Kimmel, Stephen Colbert, Conan O'Brien, Terrence Howard, John Legend, The Roots, Patti LaBelle, Black Eyed Peas, Jon Bon Jovi, Steve Tyrell, Nancy Sinatra, Michael Smerconish, WMMR personalities, Gov. Rendell, and Mayor Nutter…
Business Travel News - Starwood's Aloft Hotels Achieves Lift-Off – 8/1…After several years of development Starwood Hotels & Resorts' entry into the select-service market, the Aloft brand, has opened its first properties. The first Aloft opened June 5 near Montreal's airport, and the company since has opened properties in Ontario-Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.; Rogers-Bentonville, Ark.; and Lexington, Mass. A total of 18 properties are scheduled to open this year, and more than 50 are scheduled to open in 2009. Designed by the same team behind Starwood's W Hotels and priced to compete with such brands as Hilton Garden Inn and Courtyard by Marriott, Aloft hotels feature loft-like guest rooms, an open lobby and grab-and-go cafes…
NewsChannel5 – Franklin’s (Tennessee) Hotel Building Boom – 8/1
News Channel 5 featured aloft Hotel and Westin in a story on the hotel building boom in Franklin, Tennessee. Please click on the link below to watch the video:
newschannel5 Hotel Building Boom
Modern Agent - Aloft Hotel Opens at Charleston Airport – 8/1
…Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. and its new lifestyle brand, Aloft hotels, announced the opening of Aloft Charleston Airport & Convention Center. The new Aloft Charleston Airport & Convention Center was developed and is managed by SREE Hotels, LLC. The 136-room hotel is located at the Intersection of International and Tanger Parkway…
Friday, August 15, 2008
Keep it up – keep the buzz alive
Monday, August 4, 2008
We generated 18,750,000 impressions including coverage in USA Today, NY Times, Fast Company, Chicago Tribune and the Boston Globe on topics as broad as the state of the hotel industry to getting rid of phone books in guest rooms. The bloggers continue to watch every move with rapt fascination and provide a great complement to the traditional PR outlets in getting the word out. (see below)
The Big Bash opening party at aloft Rancho Cucamonga got pick up on KCAL TV and an interview with Brian McGuinness ran on CNBC. (links below)
The big NBTA conference was held last week and aloft had a big presence. A few days prior to the event, we sent 110 of our top customers an aloft-branded gumball machine filled with branded gumballs and a letter inviting them to visit our booth at the event. On Sunday afternoon, we helicoptered some of our Starwood customers and travel trade press from downtown LA to aloft Rancho Cucamonga so they could get a tour of the hotel and better understand the brand. We expect pick-up in the coming weeks on the event.
Congratulations to aloft Chicago O’Hare which opened on July 24 and aloft Charleston that opened on July 31. Best wishes to aloft Minneapolis (planned opening for 8/7) and aloft Philadelphia whose opening and grand opening party are on 8/8.
Remember to send emails of anyone in your organization that would like to receive aloft PR updates.
Robin KormanVice President Marketing aloft hotels
Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc1111 Westchester AvenueWhite Plains, NY 10604t. 914 640 3615 f. 914 640 3615 alofthotels.com – discover the new tWist in travel
New York Times - Terrible Timing for a Hotel Boom – 7/31
…A record number of hotels are opening this year, and the timing could not be worse. High gasoline prices and a slumping economy have put a damper on leisure and business travel. Airlines have been cutting service and raising fares. While new hotels open, occupancy rates are falling across much of the United States. ''We're really on the verge,'' said Charles Snyder of Smith Travel Research, a firm based in Hendersonville, Tenn. ''It hasn't turned into a hotel recession just yet, but we're certainly keeping an eye on the economy.''…When the industry was recording record revenue, major chains like Holiday Inn, which is part of the InterContinental Hotels Group; Hyatt; and Ritz-Carlton, owned by Marriott, began making plans to open new hotels. The industry now has about 6,000 new hotels, with nearly 800,000 rooms, under development, a 27 percent increase from last year, according to Lodging Econometrics, a consulting firm in Portsmouth, N.H. About 2,000 of those hotels are already under construction, and construction is scheduled to begin on many more in the next year. But perhaps more telling is the number of projects called off in the last three months -- 327 -- after investment banks like Lehman Brothers, UBS and Merrill Lynch began to reduce financing for new construction, according to Lodging Econometrics. It was the highest number of cancellations since immediately after Sept. 11. Even Donald J. Trump, who plans to build hotels in New York City, Honolulu, Toronto, Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and Panama by 2010, is preparing for the worst. ''It may be speaking against my interest,'' Mr. Trump said, ''but I think the industry is headed for a fall.'' The hotels most likely to suffer are expected to be in smaller cities that are losing scheduled air service, which could reach as many as 100 by the end of the year, according to air transportation analysts. Rising air fares, already up an average of about 17 percent in 2008, are not expected to help. ''The cost of the travel experience is the hotel and the flights,'' said Barry S. Sternlicht, the former chairman of Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide. ''If one costs more, consumers have less to spend on the other.'' Some analysts, however, say the hotel industry will be able to withstand the tough times, albeit with lower profits. Professor Hanson, of the Tisch Center, said that at current levels, most hotels could endure significantly lower occupancy and still make money. On average, he said, hotels break even at 54 percent occupancy. Stephen P. Joyce, president of Choice Hotels International, said, ''It's a tough environment to open into.'' The company opened four hotels last year and has plans to open a dozen more by the end of this year, and more than 60 in the next three years. The company's brands include Comfort Inn, Cambria Suites and EconoLodge. In July, Starwood, which includes Westin, Sheraton and St. Regis, introduced its Aloft hotel -- a more hip and affordable brand modeled after its W Hotel. Starwood is developing more than 90 Alofts in 10 countries, and most of them ''are already under construction,'' Brian McGuinness, the company's vice president, said. But he said a few might have to be scrapped. ''There might be some slippage,'' he said, adding that plans for ''maybe five hotels'' would have to be canceled. Hyatt is also adjusting some of its plans. The company said it had originally planned to open 80 hotels this year. Instead, it will open 64, and about 94 next year.
Plenty Magazine (Blog) - State-By-State Guide to Green Hotspots – 7/30
…There's no need to book an ecotourism trip to Costa Rica this summer. Stay home and explore the United States' vast terrain for eco-minded travelers. You don't have to venture far from home to find eco-friendly places to eat, shop, and play. Here are several dozen of our favorite spots around the United States…ARKANSAS: Aloft. Eco façade is not just for show. Aloft is also green behind the scenes: Linens are washed with Seventh Generation goods and the pool is cleaned with chem-free products. 1103 South 52nd St., Rogers, AR. 479-268-6799; starwoodhotels.com/alofthotels…
Business Traveller (UK) – Starwood Announces Element Abu Dhabi – 7/30
…Starwood Hotels has announced the debut of its long-stay Element brand outside North America, a new-build property in Abu Dhabi due to open in 2011. The hotel will feature 270 “extended-stay units”, and will be located in Capital Centre, a mixed-use development around 20 minutes from the city centre and 15 minutes from Abu Dhabi International airport. A spin-off from the group’s Westin brand, Starwood has placed particular emphasis on green construction and design techniques for the new Element concept (see online news April 22). The brand recently opened its first property in Lexington, Massachusetts, with around 20 hotels under development across the US and Canada, including New York, Chicago, Las Vegas and Toronto. Capital Centre is being dubbed as a “micro city” on the outskirts of Abu Dhabi, and once complete will feature six hotels (Starwood’s Aloft brand will also make an appearance in 2009), residential and serviced apartment blocks and a marina. The complex also houses the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre, the first phase of which has already been completed, and which will eventually feature over 55,000 sqm of meeting and conference space, as well as food courts, retail outlets and 2,000 sqm of serviced office space…
USA Today.com - Hotel Chains to Get Rid Of Phone Books In Rooms – 7/30
…Phone books, like tube TVs, are starting to disappear from hotel rooms. Omni Hotels, citing environmental concerns, announced today it will eliminate phone books in its 35 hotels. The current stock of 30,000 phone books will be recycled, and Omni will "invite other hotel brands to join in this effort," the Irving, Texas-based company says. "We found that that no one uses them anymore," says spokeswoman Caryn Kboudi. "They just collect dust and take up drawer space." While a vast majority of hotels in the USA continue to stock phone books, Omni joins a growing list of hotel chains that are eliminating them to cut down on paper waste and present clutter-free rooms. Several chains operated by Starwood Hotels — Westin, Sheraton, Aloft and Element — and Kimpton Hotels no longer carry phone books in the rooms (although they're available at the front desks). Hilton and Intercontinental Hotels' Indigo have dropped phone books as "a brand standard," or an item that must be stocked, and left up the decision to individual hotel owners…
Chicago Tribune - Hotel Opens Doors in Rosemont – 7/29
…People relax Thursday in the lobby of the newly opened Aloft Hotel, at 9700 W. Balmoral Ave. in Rosemont, near O’Hare International Airport. The 251-room hotel was developed by Milwaukee-based Continental Properties Co. and is affiliated with the Starwood Hotels & Resorts chain. The hotel is managed by Dallas-based Aimbridge Hospitality, which is developing three other Aloft properties in Texas…
Boston Herald – Inside Track, We Hear – 7/29
…That Mass. Lodging Association prez Paul Sacco is bursting with pride that his son, Paul Jr. senior veep of development for Starwood Hotel & Resorts, opened the country’s first LEED-certified, eco-friendly hotel chain in Lexington. The new hotel, called element, and its sister property aloft, are on the site of the old Sheraton Lexington Inn, which Papa Paul opened back in the day…
Hotel Report (UK) - A New Element - 7/28
…Hotel development in North America may be in a holding pattern but brands in one category seem to be in a more expansionist mode– extended stay, which continues to out-perform the industry as a whole. The largest existing brands – Residence Inns (over 500 locations), Homewood Suites and Staybridge Suites (well over 100 locations each with busy pipelines) – from Marriott, Hilton and InterContinental respectively – promise significant growth. But starting from scratch and taking aim at those big players is Starwood’s newest brand, element, which the company has dubbed an “eco-chic” product for its style and status as the very first brand to be LEED certified in every location. (LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, and is the internationally recognized third party certification for green buildings.) Last week, I stayed in the new element in Lexington, Massachusetts (it opened July 1), the brand’s first property. Located in the Boston area, it shares a plot of land with a new aloft hotel – Starwood’s slightly newer “W inspired” brand. Element’s first impression: a bright, open lobby with floor-to-ceiling windows bringing in natural light from an outdoor area accessible to guests, green growing things dotted about, and soaring ceilings. Upstairs, the room was comfortable, though not strikingly large by extended stay standards. The bathroom is sizeable with a “rainfall” showerhead as well as a European style shower “wand.” Not surprisingly in a green hotel, shampoo and body wash were dispensed from large containers hanging in the shower. The only small bottle, containing body lotion, sat on the sink. The most jarring impression – the absence of water bottles -- in the room or anywhere in the hotel. They are not sold or offered to guests; water is filtered at the tap and element executives say that at some point recyclable bottles or containers will be available for free or for sale to joggers and other guests. The eco-chic theme leans more heavily on the chic at the Gourmet Pantry located behind the front desk. It features items like frozen lime cilantro shrimp, Korean kimche soup, organic beer and an upscale brand of sorbet called Ciao Bella. An impressive breakfast includes freshly made fruit smoothies. “It’s all about staying whole on the road,” said Robin Korman, vice president-marketing, one of several Starwood executives on hand for the opening. “When people are away from home for extended periods they tend not to exercise, eat healthily or sleep well. We try to deal with all of those with a well-equipped fitness center, the Heavenly Bed and nutritious foods.” Will eco-chic and the power of Starwood’s loyalty program enable element to leapfrog over much larger competitors with powerful resources behind them? Not surprisingly, Starwood executives appear confident about element’s success (after all, this is the company that surprised many in the industry with the successful launch of W Hotels.). Paul Sacco, senior vice president for development, said, “We are on target for our expansion and both brands will be international (In fact the first international element was to be announced this week in Abu Dhabi.) At the beginning, however, according to Denise Coll, president, North America for all of the Starwood brands, international expansion for element will be more gradual than for aloft. As she noted. “Extended stay is not as familiar in Europe, but we do see strong potential there.” Added Korman, “We recently brought in Starwood managers from all over the world and asked if aloft and element were too America-centric; they told us that was not the case at all. We see a ton of interest from developers in Europe, Africa and the Middle East. And some of our best and brightest developers are coming to us for multiple projects.” Executives believe that having the name Westin on the Element brand – It says “Element by Westin” above the door -- will appeal to loyal Starwood customers. As for that Westin influence, Korman, noted, “ Element is influenced by Westin as far as the Heavenly Bed, the natural feel, the light and the sense of balance we have sought to incorporate.” Korman said that Element will not take business from existing Starwood brands because “we have not had an extended stay entry – this is something our customers asked for.”…
Lodging Magazine – In Brief – 7/28
…Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide announced the June debut of its much-anticipated new lifestyle brand, aloft. The launch was marked by the opening of aloft Montreal Airport, developed and owned by the joint venture between silver Hotel Group and Northampton Group Inc. The 136-room aloft property touts a variety of intuitive technologies, atmospheric public spaces, and guest amenities…
Philadelphia Magazine (Blog) - Good Life Daily: Hotel Happenings – 7/28
…It’s not looking like the fabled W Hotel is actually, like ever, going to open in Center City — ground hasn’t been broken and phone calls are not being returned. (All this hush-hush drama reminds me of another W, no?) And here at 1818 Market Street, the Good Life style team is coming to terms with the fact that we won’t ever get a Bliss Spa — they come in many Ws — or their ouch-less, razor-burn-less bikini waxes. But, there has been some actual exciting hotel news and it does include a W. Sorta. Next week, August 8th, marks the official opening of Aloft, Starwood’s budget-friendly, very Euro-like hotel concept at Philadelphia International, shown. In true Starwood fashion, it’s sleek and sophisticated, has an indoor pool, and is pet-friendly. (Oh yeah, and they’ll wash your car, too.) Splurge for the high-end rooms — they are still less than $200 a night. We’ll keep you updated on more Aloft area openings. Back in Center City, where people you know might actually want to stay (no offense Philly International), The Independent is a new 24-room spot that calls itself a boutique hotel, which opened in the Gayborhood about a month ago. It’s got a huge mural by local artist Kim Senior that’s very cool, has updated rooms (plasma, fancy bedding), and serves breakfast — making it more of a really hip B&B than a boutique hotel in our minds. Which isn’t a bad thing. Rooms start at $129…
Hotel Talk.com – New Brand Neighborhood – 7/28
…I’m here in Lexington, Mass., taking a peek at the new, side-by-side aloft and Element hotels that opened this month. The corporate-owned properties are a showcase for developers, said Denise Coll, who was appointed president, North America for Starwood at the beginning of the year. It seems like a long time since Starwood’s Project XYZ was christened aloft during The Lodging Conference in 2005. It was the year of the loft-style room, with John Russell introducing NYLO just down the hall at The Arizona Biltmore. The anticipation is finally over as alofts are popping up from Chicago to Beijing. Lexington is the first Element open. So the question for my one-night visit: aloft or Element? It was like deciding between fraternal twins. I’ve been watching these two brands since they launched. They’re cut from the same Starwood cloth, but oh-so-different offerings. I stayed at the Element because it’s the first one open. There are more alofts open because the brand launched a year earlier than Element, so I’m hoping to stay at one soon. Paul Sacco, who was recently appointed senior VP of development, said four more Elements and 18 more alofts will open this year. Next year, he expects 10 Elements and 40 to 50 alofts…
Business Traveler Magazine – Hotel Update – 7/25
… Aloft Montreal Airport marked the official launch of the brand this June when the 136-room property opened its doors. Located at the entrance to Trudeau International Airport, the hotel is 20 minutes form downtown Montreal. An urban-influence design is conveyed in the rooms, with nine-foot-high ceilings, oversize windows and platform beds, while bathrooms feature walk-in showers and Bliss Spa amenities. Each room is also equipped with an entertainment center that has plug-and-play capability, allowing for PDAs, cell phones, MP# players and laptops to link to the LCD television. Public spaces have been crafted with the intention of fostering an environment for socializing and networking, with pool tables, Wi-Fi and a lobby bar. The hotel also features a fitness center and both indoor and outdoor pools. Starwood currently has 88 additional aloft projects under development in more than 10 countries, with over 50 slated for a 2009 opening….
Chicago Tribune - Mojitos and Pool – 7/23
…A new hotel opens near O'Hare International Airport this week. It's name is aloft, and, yes, it is spelled with a lower case "a, " just as the recently opened dana hotel spells its name ' with a lower case "d." The 251-room aloft is intended to be a less expensive version of W Hotels, spokeswoman Lisa Kornblatt said. But it is also intended to attract people who like people. That's the reason for the prominent bar and pool tables in the lobby. The layout is intended to encourage people to socialize at the hotel, at 9700 Balmoral Ave. in Rosemont…
Business Traveler – Loyalty Programs – 7/22
…Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide and its new lifestyle brand, aloft hotels, announced that in celebration of the opening of the first aloft, Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) members can earn eight Starpoints for every U.S. dollar spent (quadruple the base earning) when they register and then book and stay at any aloft hotel worldwide until December 31, 2008. Members currently earn two points for every dollar spent at any participating Starwood hotel. Gold and Platinum members will continue to earn one additional bonus point based on their elite status, bringing their earning to nine Starpoints for every U.S. dollar spent. SPG members, as well as non-members, can register at www.alofthotels.com/8to1...The first aloft hotels are scheduled to open in summer 2008, and include locations such as Chicago O’Hare, IL; Minneapolis, MN; Philadelphia Airport, PA; Lexington, MA; Ontario-Rancho Cucamonga, CA; Rogers-Bentonville, AR; as well as Montreal Airport and Beijing, China. More than 50 aloft hotels are scheduled to open in 2009…
KCAL 9 News – High-Tech Hotel is Eco-Friendly Too – 7/21
…aloft Hotel Rancho Cucamonga, California was featured on KCAL 9. Please click on the link below to view the video:
aloft on KCAL 9
Modern Agent - Aloft Hotel Opens in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif. – 7/21
…The first aloft hotel in the U.S. has opened in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif. The 136-room aloft Ontario-Rancho Cucamonga is the hotel component of a $60 million master-planned, mixed-use development called HavenPark. It features an urban-influenced design, accessible technology and a social atmosphere. Highlights include nine-foot ceilings and oversized windows designed to create a bright, airy environment. Each guestroom features a signature bed and a large bathroom with an oversized, walk-in showers and amenities by Bliss Spa. Each guest loft is also a combination high-tech office and entertainment center, featuring wireless Internet access and plug ‘n' play, a one-stop connectivity solution for multiple electronic gadgetry like PDAs, cell phones, mp3 players and laptops, all linked to a large, flat panel HDTV-ready television. Public areas include the re:mix communal lobby area, bar w xyz, the re:charge fitness center, splash outdoor pool and re:fuel by aloft, a one-stop food and beverage area…
CNBC – High Time for Hotels? – 7/21
…CNBC's Mike Hegedus travels to Hawthorne, N.Y., to visit a new hotel chain, aloft, with Brian McGuinness. Please click on the link below to view the segment:
Brian McGuinness, aloft Hotels on CNBC
Hotel & Motel Management – Starwood’s CEO Maps Out Journey – 7/21
…"It would be wonderful to have a brilliant c.e.o., but it's much more important to have a smart organization," said Frits van Paasschen, president and c.e.o. of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide. Van Paasschen, who joined the hospitality industry last September, shared thoughts on his new role during a general session at the 30th NYU International Hospitality Industry Investment Conference. He was interviewed by Jonathan Tisch, chair of the conference and chairman and c.e.o. of Loews Hotels. Van Paasschen talked about the transition from his position as president and c.e.o. of Coors Brewing Co. and his past experience at Nike and Disney Consumer Products. Branding execution is everything, he said, adding it's about repeated great guest experiences. Van Paasschen has immersed himself in the industry, visiting 132 hotels in 20 countries since his arrival. Now he is taking employees on the Starwood Journey, which is the name of the strategic direction for the company. Part of the difference from the company's past direction is more emphasis on working as a team. Starwood also will continue to pursue its asset-right structure, which will mean selling more owned hotels. "If we can develop our pipeline more quickly by bringing our balance sheet to bear, we will selectively look at opportunities, but it's more a means to an end," he said. Van Paasschen anticipates growth globally from 900 properties to 1,500 worldwide. About 50 percent of the company's pipeline is outside the U.S. While a lot of upscale and luxury brands do not seek widespread distribution, for Starwood's brands, the more global they become, the stronger they are, he said. "Having a network, a series of access points to our brands around the world, is an extraordinary opportunity," he said. There currently are more economic challenges in the U.S. than internationally, but some sectors are doing incredibly well, van Paasschen said, citing about 75 percent of reservations coming from the business segment. He added that the leisure sector will struggle this summer but that it's a short term challenge. In the future, Element and aloft are brands that will be mainstream, van Paasschen said, adding they have the advantage of not yet existing (At press time, two aloft properties were open). "What we have the opportunity to do today is invent those brands with a clear idea of what we see the traveler will be like in 2020," he said. Van Paasschen mentioned the current effort to revitalize the Sheraton brand and cited Four Points by Sheraton as a success story of bringing back a brand. In the past five years, Four Points has almost doubled revenue per available room. He also addressed buzz over the departure of Ross Klein, president of the luxury brands group and a leader in the creation of aloft, and senior v.p. Amar Lalvani to Hilton Hotels Corp. in the roles of global head of luxury and lifestyle brands and global head of luxury and lifestyle brand development, respectively. "I was disappointed," he said. "Both of those executives were very talented. I had a personal rapport with both. When you have a strong team, you don't miss a step when someone leaves." After nine months on the job, van Paasschen doesn't see himself as a hotelier yet, but rather he views himself as a global branded business leader…
Canadian Lodging News - aloft Debuts With Montreal Opening – 7/17
…The aloft Montreal Airport, the first hotel in Starwood's new lifestyle brand, opened June 5. Aloft hotels are meant to be modern, fresh and fun, with loft- inspired design. They even have their own language, according to a Starwood release. For example, w xyz means clink! mix, meet and mingle over music and cocktails. Developed and owned by the joint venture between Silver Hotel Group and Northampton Group Inc., the 136-room aloft Montreal Airport will offer a variety of intuitive technologies, atmospheric public spaces and an array of amenities. "The sleekness and dynamism of the aloft lifestyle complements the sophistication and style of Montreal, where we are proud to make our global debut," says Brian McGuinness, vice president of aloft and element hotels worldwide. "Youthful-minded travelers will appreciate the aloft brand's emphasis on creativity, culture and fun." The centerpiece of each aloft room is the plush platform bed, and large bathrooms complement the guest experience with oversized walk-in showers and amenities created by bliss spa. Each aloft room also is a combination office and entertainment centre, with wireless Internet access and plug & play, a one-stop connectivity solution for electronic gadgetry such as PDAs, cell phones, MP3 players and laptops, all linked to a large flat panel LCD television for optimal sound and viewing…
Thursday, July 31, 2008
First In A Series
Interstate Hotels and Resorts open first US aloft hotel
ci.rancho-cucamonga.ca.usBy eTN Jun 21, 2008
Interstate Hotels & Resorts, a leading hotel real estate investor and the nation's largest independent operator of full- and select-service hotels, today announced that it opened and will operate the first aloft hotel in the US, in Rancho Cucamonga, California, near Ontario. The 136-room, newly-built hotel is owned by a joint venture in which Interstate and The John Buck Company (TJBC) of Chicago, Illinois, a real estate development firm, are partners.
It is the first in a series of aloft hotels slated for development by the partnership over the next several years, with the second scheduled to open in suburban Nashville this September. TJBC oversees development of the hotels for the partnership.
aloft is Starwood Hotels & Resorts' new premium, select-service hotel brand designed to appeal to a new generation of business and leisure travelers, featuring high design at an affordable price point, accessible technology, style and a social atmosphere.
"The aloft Ontario-Rancho Cucamonga is part of our growth strategy to develop hotels through joint ventures, which creates significant embedded growth as we ramp them up," said Thomas F. Hewitt, Interstate's chief executive officer. "As the world's largest third-party management company, we are honored to be opening the first aloft in the United States and to add this exciting new brand to our management/joint ventures portfolio. We're confident that we can deliver the same kind of superior service and memorable guest experience that have earned us consistently superior guest satisfaction scores and RevPAR results."
"aloft is a much anticipated brand that we believe will change the face of the premium, select-service sector, and we are delighted to be introducing it in the US," said Paul Novak, TJBC's managing director, hospitality division. "Our second aloft in Cool Springs outside of Nashville is on schedule for a September opening, and we have additional aloft hotels at various stages in the development pipeline. We continue to look for other opportunities for this cutting-edge brand."
Located off Highway 10, at the northwest corner of 4th Avenue and Haven, the 136-room aloft is part of a $60 million master-planned, mixed-use development called HavenPark, near Ontario Airport and the Ontario Convention Center. The just completed development features 150,000 square feet of Class A office space; 22,000 square feet of retail space; a free-standing, full-service restaurant and the aloft hotel.
"The aloft development partnership is a continuation of our joint venture growth strategy that allows us to benefit from the advantages of real estate ownership," said Leslie Ng, chief investment officer of Interstate. "We expect this brand to quickly gain broad market acceptance and achieve strong operating margins. We further believe that the aloft brand will be a significant addition to this competitive sector of our industry."