|By Olivia Just, The Stamford Advocate,
Conn.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News
July 18, 2012--On any given week, chances are high that somewhere in the world, Starwood Hotels & Resorts is opening a new location.
The company, which opens about 80 hotels a year, unveiled the "Starwood Experience" on Tuesday at its Stamford headquarters, opening a new method of showcasing its hotel brands.
Gov. Dannel Malloy, who as Stamford's mayor began negotiating with Starwood over a decade ago, said that the "labor of love" has finally paid off.
"Talent likes to be where other talent is -- you know that in the hotel business, and I know that in the economic development business," he said. "And more, substantially more, is yet to come."
The "Starwood Experience" is an overhaul of the company's headquarters, which includes a floor of showrooms displaying the varying styles of its nine brands of hotels, modeling full-scale replicas of rooms that would be found in hotels carrying each of their brands, like the Sheraton, Westin and Four Points. The whole floor acts like a cross between a showroom and an interior design studio, showing owners and developers what Starwood's brands look like, as well as functioning as a space for the design team to work.
"It's a meeting space for us and it's an opportunity for us to tell the Starwood stories we want to tell," said Mike Tiedy, senior vice president of Starwood's global brand design and innovation. "All of our brands are based on a pretty sharp focus of a customer base, whether it's select service or more of a luxury brand."
Malloy pointed out that, in the year since Starwood renamed a section of Ludlow Street "One StarPoint," development in the South End has advanced considerably.
John Freeman, vice president and general counsel at Building and Land Technology, noted that the company was happy to have Starwood as a part of its Harbor Point section. BLT and Starwood are working to improve Starwood's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification.
"It's fantastic, it surpasses our expectations," Freeman said of Starwood's headquarters. "They're a wonderful corporate citizen and we're very happy to have them here at Harbor Point."
Starwood had pledged to bring 800 jobs to Stamford as a result of its move, but Ken Siegel, general counsel at Starwood, acknowledged that the number is probably closer to 1,000 employees at the headquarters.
"We wanted to have a headquarters that everyone could be proud of," Siegel said of the "Starwood Experience."
The idea of creating set of showrooms for the hotels is a fairly unique one, Siegel said. Starwood's design team approached him about two years ago with a plan to make the headquarters "more than just a generic office space."
"I think we're out in front on this one," he said. "That's why we're as innovative as we are."
(c)2012 The Stamford Advocate (Stamford, Conn.)
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