The new select service brand from Starwood hotels – aloft - will have its European debut in Brussels. Coming from the same team behind Starwood's extremely successfully W Hotels, aloft aims to deliver "affordable, stylish design, accessible technology and a refreshing new attitude" while still "carrying the DNA of W Hotels".
"With aloft we are reinventing the select service category, and are thrilled to be working with Thornsett Group to bring the first aloft hotel into Europe," said Roeland Vos, President Europe, Middle East & Africa, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. "Brussels is a great city for aloft's first exposure to Europe, and the hotel will deliver great style, comfort, design and functionality to travellers. We look forward to this development being the start of a long term relationship with Thornsett Group."
The 150-room Brussels property will open in 2009, on Rue Belliard, Leopold, in the 'European' quarter of Brussels. The property is 800 feet from the European Commission and European Parliament buildings, and just minutes away from the Council of Ministers building. In addition to the aloft hotel, the 74,000 square foot development will also include 108 one and two bedroom apartments and approximately 5,000 square feet of retail space with parking.
Construction will commence in autumn of this year, with completion scheduled for autumn 2009. The announcement of the new aloft hotel is likely to be the first of a rapid expansion throughout Europe and the Middle East, following on from openings in the US and China in 2008-9.
So what can you expect from aloft? "Urban-inspired, loft-like guest rooms, leading edge technology services, and an energetic lounge scene" is the idea. In practice that means 90 -180 loft style rooms, 2.75 metre ceilings, exposed beams and blackened steel for the urban, loft-like environment, oversized windows, and a combination high-tech office and entertainment centre, with a plug & play, one-stop connectivity solution for multiple electronic gadgets such as PDAs, mp3 players and laptops, all linked to a large flat panel television for optimal sound and viewing, as well as wifi internet connections. They will also feature large bathrooms with walk-in showers and amenities created by Bliss Spa.
Unlike many select – or limited service hotels, the public spaces are designed to draw guests from their rooms to the re:mix communal lobby area and bar wxyz, while, weather permitting, an open-air area means guests can socialise outdoors or attend aloft events. The hotels are for the most part not designed with a restaurant. Instead, there is re:fuel by aloft; "a one-stop food and beverage area offering sweet, savoury and healthy food, snacks and beverages to grab & go, 24 hours a day". There is also a re:charge fitness centre and splash, the indoor or outdoor pool. Meetings aren't a big part of the offering, but all hotels have function space and there is 100 per cent wireless internet access throughout the properties as a brand standard.
The first aloft property will open in southern California (aloft Rancho Cucamonga in early 2008, in HavenPark, a $60 million master-planned, mixed-use development) with other properties opening next year in Canada, and the first China property (Beijing) slated for early 2009. Starwood is targeting 500 properties worldwide by 2012.
For more information on aloft, visit alofthotels.com.
Report by Tom Otley