|By Donna Hogan, The Tribune, Mesa,
Ariz.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News
Sep. 3, 2008 - Drive up the elaborate round port cochere at the W Scottsdale and immediately hit sensory overload.
Overhead four massive portholes provide a view into the swimming pool, the elaborate art wall sparkles glints of green from the lobby, savory smells emanate from Sushi Roku and pulsing beats from the Living Room lobby bar energize the air after dark.
At least that's the idea.
As of today, hundreds of workers are still putting the finishing touches on the place.
But when the hotel opens Friday, the bubbles of mirrored glass adorning the white onyx welcome desks will be glowing neon pink, green, blue or a whole rainbow of bright hues, and owners hope that the Jerusalem Stone walk from front door to conference center will be humming with the din of the rich, famous and hip checking out the new digs.
Several celebrities will be on hand for the invitation-only opening party, said Michael Mahoney, president of TriYar Hospitality, which built the 224-room hotel in downtown Scottsdale.
Even more will show up soon after for a TV show scheduled to be filmed at the W mid-month, he said.
It's one more way the hotel will help transform Scottsdale's image from an elegant resort town that mostly attracts upscale but older travelers into a hip destination for the young and wealthy.
While other boutique properties have debuted nearby -- Hollywood-hip Mondrian, the retrodeco chic Valley Ho, Zen-like Sanctuary in Paradise Valley and San Francisco-based Kimpton's FireSky -- the W is world famous for trendy, sophisticated hotels.
But if you've seen one in Manhattan or Montreal, don't think you know what the W Scottsdale will look like. While the brand has some signature service characteristics -- among them, a we-canget-you-anything-anytime attitude -- every W hotel is different, Mahoney said.
So with parent Starwood having the final say, TriYar got to choose everything for the local W from restaurant to decor, he said.
The developers opted for multidimensional design. Walls are mostly stone, wood, glass, even leather or a mixture of those surfaces. The lobby end tables are petrified wood. The bar top is leather.
The restrooms are traditional single-sex versions, but the sinks are in a unisex room that can function as a meet-and-greet spot, Mahoney said. The walls of Bliss Spa are covered in clouds. The floors are rubber, so heels don't disturb spagoers.
Four 2-ton "lampshades" arch over the pool deck. There is a Zen garden, a sand beach and 13 cabanas, each with a safe.
The W Scottsdale has a staff topping 300, Mahoney said. More than 3,500 applied for those jobs, he said.
Maybe that's because even the employees at the W Scottsdale get a little pampering. At the back of the house, an Auto Valet keeps them looking their best. At the end of a shift, an employee tosses a chip-imbedded shirt or suit through the Auto Valet window. The next day, with a swipe of that employee's ID card, Auto Valet delivers a newly cleaned and pressed uniform through the window.
Despite a gloomy economy that is hurting tourism nationwide, the W Scottsdale has nearly sold out September, already booked meetings in October, November and December, and almost all weekends in December are packed with holiday parties, Mahoney said.
TriYar is nearing completion of another Starwood brand, Aloft, in Tempe, and the company plans to build an Aloft in north Scottsdale. The deal for the land is almost completed, Mahoney said.
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