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LTD Spending $40 million to Build Side by Side Two of Starwood's
 Lowercase Brands, aloft and element, in  Hanover, Maryland

By Philip Walzer, The Virginian-Pilot, Norfolk, Va.McClatchy-Tribune Business News

Dec. 5, 2006 - LTD Management Co., the Chesapeake hotel developer that helped lay the foundation for Greenbrier's "hotel row," has literally discovered a new element in Maryland.

LTD and Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc. announced Monday that they will team to build a pair of distinctive hotels, known as aloft and element, side by side in Hanover, Md., five miles south of the Baltimore/Washington International Airport. The two hotels, which will have a total of 287 rooms, are scheduled to open in the spring of 2008.

LTD will serve as the owner, developer and management company for the venture, said Kimberly Schlick, vice president for marketing. It is spending $40 million, she said.

Starwood, whose brands include Sheraton and Westin, has identified the hotels with lowercase names to market them as stylish alternatives for both the overnight traveler as well as the extended-stay guest.

In September, LTD announced that it will open the 136 -room aloft Chesapeake hotel at 1500 Crossways Blvd. in the spring of 2008. Aloft's rooms will feature teak furniture, loft ceilings and flat-panel TVs. "This is clearly a niche hotel for the traveler that's got the urban flair," Schlick said. "It is very hip."

The element hotel "brings that same type of flair" for extended-stay guests, Schlick said, with open-air rooms, modular furniture and spa-sized showers.

The aloft concept is part of Starwood's W Hotels while the element brand falls under its Westin division.

LTD bought its first hotel, which it has since sold, in Portsmouth in 1983. It now operates 20 hotels -- seven in Chesapeake, five each in Norfolk and Williamsburg and one each in Newport News, Richmond and Chester, Schlick said. Former Chesapeake Mayor William Ward once called LTD "the pioneers" in building the city's "hotel row" in the Greenbrier section.

In addition to the aloft and element projects, LTD plans to open three hotels in Maryland -- two in Baltimore and one in Frederick -- next year. That doesn't mean the company is turning its back on Hampton Roads, said Neel Desai, a managing partner for LTD.

"We're a local developer, and we're going to remain a local developer," Desai said. "We want to take care of our backyard before anywhere else, and once we do that, we're looking more toward the north.... BWI airport is a growing airport. We feel that it's a growing market."

Desai also said the venture does not signal a permanent shift from the mid-level business-traveler hotel that LTD has cultivated locally.

"All of the products we do, we're trying to cater to what guests want today, and we're trying to determine what the need is in the future," Desai said.

Officials from Starwood could not be reached Monday.

-- Reach Philip Walzer at (757)222-3864 or phil.walzer@pilotonline.com.

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Copyright (c) 2006, The Virginian-Pilot, Norfolk, Va.

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