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Aloft Hotels Type Franchise Industry Hotel Founded 2005 Founder(s) W Hotels Number of locations 46 hotels Area served United States, Canada, Europe, Asia Parent Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Website Aloft Hotels is a brand of hotels based out of North America. Its parent company is Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, although it is referred to as "a vision of W Hotels". The concept was developed in 2005, with the first hotel opening at the Trudeau International Airport in Montreal in 2008.[1] Aloft Hotels have since opened across North America and around the world. The majority of its hotels are located at or near major airports. The brand is most notable for its style, which is different from the majority of hotel brands. The hotels offer a very urban design, with many unique technical aspects, and a very social atmosphere.[1] Another characteristic of the hotel is the names it applies to otherwise basic hotel amenities. For example, in each hotel, the swimming pool is referred to as "splash".[2] The staff of Aloft Hotels use the same lingo, and greet guests by saying "Aloha!". Contents 1 History 2 Concept 2.1 Features 2.2 Guest rooms 2.3 Local connections 2.4 Environmental impact 3 Locations 4 Reception 5 References 6 External links History Aloft Hotels was conceived in 2005 by Starwood Hotels. The hotel chain already had many brands, including Sheraton, Westin, and W Hotels, but was looking to expand into a market of more contemporary hotels, which would eventually become known as boutique hotels. To reflect its relationship with Starwood Hotels, the Aloft brand was dubbed as "A Vision of W Hotels". Starwood worked with the architectural company Rockwell Group and its founder David Rockwell to come up with the design.[1] The early success of such modern hotel creations was a large influence on many hotel chains. The InterContinental Hotels Group and Hyatt created similar concepts, Hotel Indigo and Hyatt Place, respectively, around the same time that Aloft Hotels were being developed. Hotel Indigo was actually the first of these boutique hotel brands, with its first hotel opening in Atlanta in 2004. To generate interest in the brand before its 2008 opening, Starwood launched a virtual tour of the hotels using Second Life,[3] whose site allows visitors to move through a typical Aloft Hotel and explore its aspects in detail. Starwood monitored statistics from the site, gauged public reception based upon visitors' opinions, and incorporated this information into the design of future Aloft Hotels.[3] Concept Aloft hotel at National Harbor, Maryland A defining attribute of the Aloft Hotel brand is its unique, non-traditional style. Starwood has promoted the hotel chain as a new "lifestyle brand," emphasizing a modern and fresh look and a social atmosphere, which encourages guests to spend time in the lobby and meet other people.[1] Features Aloft Hotels are known for their combination of new features and re-branded old features. Some of the most common features among its properties are listed in the table that follows. Feature Description Splash Although the indoor pool at Aloft is not very different from the traditional hotel pool, Aloft refers to it as "Splash". Lifts Aloft refers to their elevators as "lifts." The lifts feature plastic tiles filled with blue gel, which leave imprints where customers have stood. Aloha Desk As was mentioned earlier, guests are welcomed to the hotel with a greeting of "Aloha!" from staff at the Aloha Desk. Unlike a traditional reception desk, it is similar to a checkout counter one would see at stores, which gives the lobby a more open feeling, and makes staff seem more readily accessible. Check-ins can occur at the desk without staff or prior reservations via a credit card swipe by the customer.[4] re:fuel Replacing the traditional shop in the hotel lobby, it has an "easy breezy atmosphere", open to the rest of the lobby.[2] re:fuel offers the normal variety of sandwiches, salads and snacks, with a tendency toward healthier foods, as well as coffee and cappuccino. Available 24 hours a day, payment is via a simple credit card swipe. re:mix Lounge The re:mix Lounge is the primary focus of Aloft Hotels, its lobby, filled with contemporary furniture, modern shapes and colors to emphasize a fresh appearance. Comfortable and inviting, the furniture encourages its guests to socialize in the lobby. Board games and a pool table may also be used for the same purpose.[2] The re:mix Lounge also offers LCD TV's, Wi-Fi access, and a ticker of news and sports scores, and some of the hotels feature indoor and outdoor fireplaces. w xyz bar The bar is highlighted by its contemporary seating and neon lights, offering the normal array of bar food and drinks available at most hotel bars. It attracts customers with TV's and live musical act performances. Many of these acts are local. re:charge Gym Aloft offers a swipe-access gym, re-branded with the name re:charge to instill a sense of energy. Arf A somewhat unique feature, this is a dog care program. Arf offers a dog-bed as well as treats and toys for a dog staying with a customer. Camp Aloft Camp Aloft helps parents on vacation by getting their children excited about the hotel experience.[2] It strives for an adventure-like feeling, with special "Goodie Bags" for children upon their arrival, as well as special beds for rooms, and offerings at re:fuel.[2] Other hotel features, such as the board games offered in the Lounge and Splash, also aim to keep children entertained. Guest rooms The rooms are furnished in a very contemporary style, with nine foot ceilings and unique colors and geometries incorporated into the decor. A typical room layout has two beds along a padded wall, facing a wall with two windows and an LCD television hung between them. Rooms also feature technological aspects besides the TV, including a "Jack Pack" station which can be used to charge phones, laptops, or other devices that a customer may have brought.[4] Bathrooms are uniquely designed with a contemporary sink and a "spa-style" shower.[2] Most common aspects of modern hotel rooms are also offered at Aloft, including internet access, linens, towels, and bathroom amenities. Hotel rooms are kept relatively simple, to encourage guests to spend time in the re:mix Lounge. Local connections Aloft Hotels emphasize the local community, such as by highlighting local musicians at the w xyz bar, and holding Facebook contests to find the best local musicians.[5] Environmental impact Aloft Hotels strive for an environmental impact. An example is the Aloft Milwaukee Downtown, where outdoor landscaping was done to try to give a fresh, green image on the outside of the hotel.[2] On the inside, engineers used natural wood treatments and materials such as cork to reduce negative effects on the environment.[2] Guest rooms have soap dispensers in the shower instead of bottles, and the option to keep towels for multiple uses.[2] Parking spots are designated specifically for hybrid vehicles, encouraging guests to make environmentally responsible choices.[4] Locations Since its first hotel opened in 2008, the Aloft brand has grown rapidly. The hotel originally started in North America, but has now grown to feature locations around the world. According to the Aloft website, in the United States there are current or planned locations in 24 states.[2] In addition to its locations in the United States, there are currently locations in Canada, China, India, Belgium, and the United Arab Emirates. In 2011 and 2012, 20 proposed locations are to open, including in Mexico, Thailand, Colombia, and England,[2] for a total of 66 Aloft locations. While positive for the hotel brand, this number falls well short of an original anticipation to have 500 locations by 2012.[3] A majority of the locations are branded either as "City Center" or "Airport" hotels by the Aloft Hotels website.[2] City Center hotels are those located in downtown areas, such as Aloft Milwaukee Downtown. Airport hotels are the Aloft locations located at or near major airports, such as the original location in Montreal, or at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport. Aloft focused on these two major hotel types because these are the areas where hotels find the most success. Aloft Hotels has opened some locations in areas that have shown low growth in recent times, helping to revitalize struggling urban areas. For instance, the Aloft location opened in downtown Milwaukee in December 2009 was the first new hotel built in Milwaukee since 2001.[6] The hotel opened in Harlem, New York in December 2010 was the first hotel opened there in 40 years.[7] Reception Public reception of Aloft Hotels has been mixed. The majority of opinions revolve around the two main aspects of the hotel brand: low room prices, and the contemporary style. Aloft Hotels grew quickly, not only in number of locations, but in customer satisfaction. In a July 2010 ranking by J. D. Power and Associates, Aloft Hotels ranked towards the top of the list of hotels in customer satisfaction, ahead of many traditional hotel brands, largely due to the low prices paid for rooms.[5] The trademark modernistic culture of Aloft Hotels has also drawn some criticism. The contemporary theme of Aloft Hotels is not appreciated by everyone, and has turned back some potential patrons. Some critics still feel the Aloft Hotels have too much of a "cookie cutter" feel to them.[6] In addition, the barrage of colors, shapes, and lingo from the first moment in the hotel has been noted as simply too much for some to handle.[6] One of the biggest issues with Aloft is the exterior design of the hotels, which in an attempt to have a very contemporary look, sacrifices the architectural features that define other hotels or buildings, especially in a downtown setting.[6] References ^ a b c d aloft Montreal Airport Opens, Making Global Lifestyle Debut., June 5, 2008, Accessed November 8, 2010. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Accessed November 8, 2010. ^ a b c Starwood Hotels Explore Second Life First. Jana, Reena. Bloomberg Businessweek, August 23, 2010, Accessed November 8, 2010. ^ a b c Aloft Hotel Opens At West Broad Village: A Photo Tour. Dickerson, Trevor. Downtown Short Pump, August 6, 2009, Accessed December 5, 2010. ^ a b Aloft, Indigo hotel brands rank up with established chains. De Lollis, Barbara. USA Today, July 29, 2010, Accessed November 8, 2010. ^ a b c d The adrift Aloft Hotel. Schumacher, Mary Louise. Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, January 12, 2010, Accessed November 9, 2010. ^ Casting Call (Smile!) for a New Hotel in Harlem. Cardwell, Diane. The New York Times, June 23, 2010, Accessed November 8, 2010. 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