|by Kate Appleton||Canada, Montréal, Hotels||4|
After more than a year of hyping its new lifestyle brand, Starwood unveiled the 136-room Aloft Montreal Airport last week. A reservation search turned up Internet-only rates of $107 ($109 CAD) for June 28 and July 4 and $156 ($159 CAD) for June 19.
Aloft hotels will open later this year in Minneapolis, Minn.; Chicago O’Hare, Ill.; Philadelphia Airport, Pa.; Lexington, Mass.; Ontario/Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.; Rogers/Bentonville, Ark.; and Beijing, China, according to the Montreal press release.
I got the inside scoop on the Aloft concept back in 2007, when I chatted with Ross Klein, then president of Starwood’s Luxury Brand Group (he just jumped ship to Hilton)…
Klein credited guests of the company’s W hotels with the inspiration for Aloft. “We do a lot of events, and one of the things that kept coming up each year was ‘I live in X city and I know we’re not really big enough to have a W, but it sure would be fun,’” he said.
Seeing an opening, Klein said the company set out to combine the hipness of W with lower room rates and a different location strategy. Most Aloft properties will be near corporate or college campuses, at airports, or slightly removed from major cities and tourist attractions. Instead of Boston, for instance, an Aloft will open in Lexington, Mass., this summer.
Aloft hopes to attract W loyalists as well as point-to-point travelers looking for a more appealing place to stop for the night. “The landscape for roadside hotels was very polyester, very fluorescent, and anti-social,” said Klein. “Those things we heard from our guests were very anti-W, which is social, uses lots of natural materials, and has room products that are residential and have lots of personality.”
To test the products for Aloft, the company went so far as to build two sample rooms and public spaces in a huge warehouse in Hawthorne, N.Y., where they experimented with layout, lighting, finishes, and music.
The results: rooms with nine-foot ceilings, large windows, and platform beds, and a living-room-like lobby (complete with a pool table) that encourages hanging out. You can also expect hotel-wide Wi-Fi, a pool, a bar, and a 24-hour snack area. “We’re hoping to make memories along the way and make the select-serve hotel category memorable versus forgettable,” said Klein.
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