|Starwood plans to operate up to 15 properties in Asia Pacific under its red-hot W Hotel brand, the group’s top man in the region, Miguel Ko, has revealed. Prime targets for expanding the “new-age” brand are Hong Kong, Tokyo, Seoul, Singapore, Bangkok and Shanghai.|
“We’re looking mostly in the big capital cities and, usually, in trendy neighbourhoods. We’re looking at opportunities for under-performing hotels in Asia for conversion, which need not be smack in the middle of the banking district,” said Ko.
“The advantage of the brand is that you don’t need to be downtown, and there’s no need for a W Hotel to be a new build. This saves on capital costs and time to build, yet it gets high rates.
“Compared with traditional hotel investments, the W is favourable because you get the rate of a top hotel, and we are looking at whether we should be a core investor in the whole process.”
Meanwhile, Starwood is to open its flagship W Hotel in New York’s Times Square in December a property that is likely set the tone for future development of the brand in Asia Pacific. It will be the 16th W Hotel to open in just three years.
The “sleek, ultra-modern” 509-room hotel will include 42 suites on 53 stories, and have a “Zen-like atmosphere” with waterfalls, glowing resin alcoves and a 6,000 sq ft, Asian-style W Living Room. This will include a new W innovation - the “eclectic” W retail shop.
Guestrooms will be “modern and linear, with sleek and sexy bathrooms”. Inroom facilities will include: the W Bed; TV with ultra-fast internet access (via an infrared keyboard); high-speed dataport connectivity at speeds up to 100 times faster than conventional data modems; private, secure E-mail access; and VHS and DVD players.
“W Hotels have a signature service commitment that provides ‘whatever you want, whenever you want it’,” says Starwood chairman and CEO, Barry Sternlicht. "Should a guest require a laser printer at 2am, a last-minute tuxedo fitting or a bath filled with chocolate milk, they need only ask, and their special requests will come to life.”