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Some Speculation About a Planned W Hotel Planned
 Near Denver's Historic Union Station

The Denver Post
Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News

May 31, 2006 - The hip W Hotel brand plans to open an outpost in Denver's Central Platte Valley in 2008.

The hotel is expected to feature 171 guest rooms and 90 private residences, according to a document for real-estate developers that was posted on the website of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc., the hotel chain's parent company.

New York-based W declined to comment on its plans for Denver.

Since 1998, W has been Starwood's trendy upscale division, with properties in international hot spots such as New York; San Francisco; Sydney, Australia; and Seoul, South Korea.

The W Denver will be located on about 2 acres at 17th and Chestnut streets, near Denver's historic Union Station, according to city records.

The project is expected to be developed by Denver-based East West Partners, the company responsible for the booming Riverfront Park development in the Central Platte Valley.

East West officials declined to comment on the hotel.

"I think it would be a terrific thing. That neighborhood and that edge of town could certainly use a hotel," said Ilene Kamsler, head of the Colorado Hotel & Lodging Association. "The W is another indication that Denver has come of age." But breaking into the market could be tough even for a W, said Mike Sullivan, managing director of HVS Capital Corp., the world's largest hospitality- services provider. Downtown Denver has 6,800 hotel rooms, with more than 1,000 planned.

HVS has financed a number of W Hotels around the country but is not looking at the Denver project.

"The anxiety we have is that there aren't very many markets in the nation that can handle that much increase and continue to stand," Sullivan said.

The project's location -- far from the Colorado Convention Center and most office buildings -- is another concern, he said.

"You have to be close to the major demand generators," Sullivan said.

The average W guest is between 29 and 49, with an annual household income of more than $100,000, according to Starwood's website. Competitors include luxury hotel chains such as the Four Seasons and the Ritz-Carlton -- both of which have Denver projects on the books.

Local hotelier Charlie Biederman is revamping the former Embassy Suites Hotel at 1881 Curtis St. into a Ritz-Carlton.

His Ritz-Carlton is scheduled to open in summer 2007, with 202 hotel rooms and 24 luxury residences priced from $800,000 to more than $4 million each.

Prices for the W Residences in Dallas, which will open next month, range from $400,000 to $1 million each.

Developers Michael Brenneman and Jeff Selby are planning a Four Seasons Hotel that will include 140 luxury private residences and 230 "five-star" hotel rooms and suites. Its sales center is expected to open in July.

"The W is a very young and hip product, but it is a different market segment," Brenneman said. "I think the two will work together very well."

By Julie Dunn and Margaret Jackson


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