Hotel Online  Special Report


Starwood Names New Extended-stay Chain ELEMENT Hotels; 
The First ELEMENT a Company-built Hotel in
Lexington, Massachusetts

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. - Sept. 22, 2006 -- Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. (NYSE: HOT) today unveiled its new extended-stay hotel brand: ELEMENT, a brand extension of Westin Hotels & Resorts. ELEMENT, formerly known by its working title Project ESW, will redefine extended-stay hospitality, incorporating smart design, modern style and a social environment into a category often associated with look-alike brands and generic features. The hotel has been designed to help guests to live their best lives on the road. The ELEMENT name, new logo and website,, were unveiled this week at the 2006 Lodging Conference in Phoenix, Arizona. 

"With Westin, we recreated the upper-upscale segment in the hotel industry. Strategically, ELEMENT fits into this mold--it is about creating a new category from the ground up," said Starwood's Chief Executive Officer Steven J. Heyer. "We know that Starwood's guests are hungry for a new kind of extended-stay experience, and ELEMENT fills this white space in our portfolio perfectly. The name ELEMENT really gets at what we are aspiring to--a new approach that will offer guests a brand experience, not just a hotel." 

ELEMENT will feature several signature flourishes that evoke nature. A dramatic multi-story window-wall will flood ELEMENT's lobbies with natural light. Public spaces in the hotels will also include a tranquil water feature and design touches inspired by nature. ELEMENT will also incorporate an outdoor haven, with a courtyard and patio where guests are invited to socialize and relax by an outdoor fire pit and barbeque. During their stays, guests will discover smart design features that will make their stays easier, from modular furniture designed to encourage multi-tasking and productivity, to swiveling flat-screen televisions. 

"The name ELEMENT really evokes the spirit of the brand," said Sue Brush, Senior Vice President of Westin Hotels & Resorts. "This brand is about smart design, features inspired by nature, and creating space where guests can be 'in their element.' We asked our associates for ideas for the name, and two independently suggested ELEMENT, which we feel describes the brand's attributes beautifully." 

To bring the ELEMENT brand philosophy of "a space to live your life" to fruition, Starwood eschewed traditional hotel design shops and partnered with leading residential architect, Costas Kondylis, and interior design firm AvroKO, considered innovators in smart space living. The result includes large kitchens with stainless steel appliances, custom-designed closets, in-room offices and gourmet pantries. 

ELEMENT is inspired by the Westin hotel brand. Guests will sleep in the famed Heavenly Bed(R) and experience the large, state-of-the art fitness facilities for which the brand is well known. Westin was the first hotel chain to go smoke-free in North America, and every ELEMENT hotel will open smoke-free as well. Other touches will remind guests of Westin, from the signature scent in ELEMENT lobbies to the renewing touches spread throughout the hotel. 

One million Starwood guests stayed in an extended stay hotel in the last year, enough to support over 150 ELEMENT hotels nationwide. As a result, even before its name was unveiled, ELEMENT has been attracting significant developer interest. In fact, Starwood anticipates that there will be 500 ELEMENT hotels worldwide. Plans call for the first ELEMENT to open in Lexington, Massachusetts in early 2008. 

The first Element will be a company-built hotel in Lexington, MA, which is set to open in early 2008. To devise a prototype for the new offering, Starwood worked with an advisory board of developers experienced in extended-stay hotels. The model envisions a hotel of 123 rooms with 640 sf per key versus an industry average of 700 sf per room. It can be built on 2.5-acre site, but the design is flexible enough to fit into urban locations. Construction costs will vary by market will be line with the industry standard of $110,000 to $130,000 per key to develop an extended-stay hotel.
"The level of developer interest--before the brand even had a name--is unprecedented," said Raymond L. "Rip" Gellein, Jr., President of Starwood's Global Development Group. "The large market for the concept and the brand's efficient design, coupled with the strength of Starwood's marketing platform and Westin's history of innovation, have generated significant attention." 

The ELEMENT prototype is a fully documented turn-key solution for owners and developers. Fully developed design development plans, pre-determined design packages and fully specified and sourced furniture, fixtures and equipment add up to an industry leading development toolkit. From ground breaking to grand opening, the ELEMENT development process is supported by architecture, design and operations professionals experienced in helping developers succeed. 

The ELEMENT growth strategy targets locations in proven markets - urban centers, corporate business parks, airports, resorts and lifestyle centers. The brand will be introduced in major destinations in Asia, Europe, Africa, the Middle East, South America, and North America. Travelers will soon be able to find the space to live their life...wherever there travels take them. 

Westin Hotels & Resorts, with 127 hotels and resorts in 31 countries and territories, is owned by Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. is one of the leading hotel and leisure companies in the world with approximately 850 properties in more than 95 countries and 145,000 employees at its owned and managed properties. Starwood(R) Hotels is a fully integrated owner, operator and franchisor of hotels and resorts with the following internationally renowned brands: St. Regis(R), The Luxury Collection(R), Sheraton(R), Westin(R), Four Points(R) by Sheraton, W(R), Le Meridien(R) and the recently announced Aloft(SM). Starwood Hotels also owns Starwood Vacation Ownership, Inc., one of the premier developers and operators of high quality vacation interval ownership resorts. 

This press release contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of federal securities regulations. Forward-looking statements are not guarantees of future performance or events and involve risks and uncertainties and other factors that may cause actual results or events to differ materially from those anticipated at the time the forward-looking statements are made. 

KC Kavanagh
Also See: Starwood Details Clear Strategies for its 8 Brands; New Signature Service Elements Created in Each Brand / May 2006

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