|By Lorraine Mirabella, The Baltimore
SunMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News
Oct. 24, 2007 - The Baltimore area will get its first Element hotel, a new extended-stay brand created by Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc. The new hotel will open in 2009 at Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport, a hub of new hotel construction. Starwood Hotels said yesterday that it has reached an agreement with the Buccini/Pollin Group Inc. to build the $25 million, 123-room hotel.
An Element hotel is also planned for Harbor Point, a $450 million project slated for development adjacent to Fells Point.
Starwood is just beginning to roll out the concept, an offshoot of its Westin Hotels & Resorts, that it has described as a more upscale approach to the extended-stay category, with a contemporary design that allows guests to customize space with modular furniture.
It also features swiveling flat-screen televisions, large desks, larger closets and full kitchens. The hotels have outdoor fire pits and barbecues, meeting space, a technology center and fitness center.
The first Element is under construction in Lexington, Mass., scheduled to open next year.
The BWI Element, on Elm Road off West Nursery Road, will be part of a three-hotel complex built by Buccini/Pollin, including the Hilton Hotel BWI Airport, which opened a year ago, and a 150-room Aloft hotel, a division of Starwood's W brand, which will break ground next month, said Dave Pollin, president of Buccini/Pollin. Work on the Element will start in the middle of next year, he said.
"Westin is the hottest brand in the lodging industry and the Element sub-brand will take the key characteristics of the Westin and translate them to an extended stay," Pollin said. "The idea is that you'll have more space, including a full kitchen and more closet space. The extended-stay brand will support you, by doing shopping for you and doing laundry and sending out dry cleaning."
New hotels have been sprouting up around the airport, including the Hilton and recently opened Sheraton, Staybridge Suites, and Town Place Suites, and a soon-to-open Westin.
Pollin said much of the demand is being driven by growth of airport business and by business travel generated by the companies moving into new offices around BWI. Airport hotels also are attracting leisure travelers looking for lower-cost alternatives to downtown Baltimore, he said.
Buccini/Pollin develops and owns hotels, including the recently completed Comfort Suites BWI Airport and the SpringHill Suites Baltimore BWI Airport. The developer is building a 100-room Homewood Suites by Hilton and a 150-room Hilton Garden Inn, which will be developed as two hotels stacked atop each other, near Arundel Mills mall in Hanover.
Starwood is expected to open about five Element hotels next year. The Element coming to Harbor Point is still in the planning stages and no construction start date has been set, said Larry White, of Struever Bros. Eccles & Rouse, which is developing the project with H&S Properties Development Corp.
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