Starwood’s select-service Aloft brand will open its first London property in time for the 2012 Olympic Games, with a 252-room hotel attached to the Excel exhibition and conference centre.
Aloft London Excel will be located by Prince Regent station on the Docklands Light Railway (Excel is also linked to Custom House station on the same line), and joins Aloft Brussels (due to open on September 1) as only the second announced European property by the brand.
The hotel is due to open late 2011 / early 2012, and will be the sixth Starwood brand in London, joining existing Sheraton, Le Meridien, St Regis and Luxury Collection properties, as well as the W London – Leicester square which is due to open later this year (see online news December 12, 2009).
Aloft London Excel will be linked by a covered walkway to the conference centre, and will feature 252 rooms measuring 28sqm, with 3-metre high windows, free wifi, 42-inch flatscreen TVs and walk-in showers. The nine-storey new-build property will feature a wave design, with an exterior covered in a metal created by the Rimex Metals Group, which will “shimmer” and change colour depending on the light.
Other facilities include the Refuel self-service food outlet, WXYZ bar, and Recharge gym and “splash pool”. There will also be a 150-seat restaurant within the hotel, although Starwood’s senior vice president northwest Europe Michael Wale said that this space would probably be leased out, as the group is keen to showcase the property in line with its “pure” select-service concept.
The hotel will feature four meeting rooms, although clearly Starwood will be counting on the extensive conference facilities at Excel to bring customers to the hotel. Excel has just completed phase 2 of its expansion programme, due to be officially unveiled on June 24 and including a 5,000-seater auditorium. The centre is owned by Abu Dhabi National Exhibitions Company (ADNEC), which is also developing the Aloft hotel, and which recently unveiled the 400-room Aloft Abu Dhabi, located next to the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (for a review click here).
Asked about likely competitors for the Aloft brand in the UK, Michael Wale said that the select-service, design-led hotel concept was “a space that nobody occupies”. He pointed to other design-led brands in the UK such as Malmaison and Hotel du Vin, although these are both full-service offerings, and added that Aloft properties tended to be located where there were “demand generators” such as conference centres.
There are currently around 40 Aloft properties worldwide, mainly in the US, with a further ten due to open this year in destinations including Bangalore and Bangkok. Speaking about the recovery of the hotel industry in general, Wale said Starwood had seen a 30 per cent increase in individual business travellers in the first five months of thie year, and added that the group will open a total of 90 properties in 2010.
Report by Mark Caswell