Hotel Online Special Report

 The Related Companies, LP  Converting  New York’s Historic Guardian Life Building to a W Hotel
NEW YORK, Jan. 20, 2000 - W Hotels, the newest brand of Starwood Hotels Resorts Worldwide, has unveiled plans for a fourth Manhattan property, W Hotel at Union Square, following an extensive conversion of New York’s landmark Guardian Life building. 

The historic 20-story former office building is scheduled to reemerge in November 2000 as W Hotels’ stylish new luxury benchmark, a 270-room property, including 15 deluxe suites.  This announcement follows W Hotels’ November 1999 launch of W New York - The Court and The Tuscany, the city’s second and third W Hotels, located on 39th Street between Lexington and Park Avenues. 

“The successful growth of the W brand has already exceeded our expectations, and plans for a fourth property in New York is proof positive of our untapped demand,” remarked Barry Sternlicht, Chairman and CEO of Starwood Hotels Resorts Worldwide. 

“We are particularly excited about the ‘trophy’ landmark Union Square property, at a vibrant crossroads for upscale dining, shopping and nightlife, with easy access to midtown.” The W Hotel at Union Square will be set at the northeast corner of Union Square Park, a neighborhood known for its fine restaurants and bars, boutique stores and historic landmark buildings. The property will be the first hotel at Union Square, now a cutting-edge Manhattan destination for those in the know. Following a recent renaissance that combines commercial appeal with a residential resurgence, the Union Square area offers a famous green market, theaters and a growing selection of shopping and dining options. 

The project will be owned by The Related Companies, LP, the real estate development company, and designed by Rockwell Group, and Brennan Beer Gorman / Architects (BBG), in collaboration with Starwood Design Group.

A Landmark Treasure is Reborn Anew, W-Style

The historic property’s design will reflect the past while creating a showcase for W Hotels’ signature contemporary style. The 1911 Guardian Life building was designed by D’oench and Yost Architects in the Beaux-Arts style, a magnificent granite and limestone structure boasting traditional European architecture. A grand four-story mansard roof and other features recall the building’s French influence, from both the Second Empire and updated styles that appeared in Paris in the 1890s. The building will be transformed into a light-filled conservatory offering panoramic views of the park and surrounding neighborhood, employing a design concept that ties to the existing building with an eclectic mix of fashion-inspired details and the decorative arts that have made W Hotels famous.

Design elements will include a luminous, warm living room filled with memorable details, gardens and comfortable lounge areas. The greenery of Union Square will be evident throughout, recalling the fashionable parks and gardens of the early 20th century. A grand staircase will transport guests from the lobby lounge and bar to the classic, two-story 2,300-square-foot ballroom, beautifully restored with two pre-function rooms, and four state-of-the-art meeting rooms, all with stunning park views. The combination of restored interior spaces includes the 20 foot high former Banking Hall, mosaic tiled and vaulted marble corridors, and sloped, mansard roof, all of which inspire a collection of specialty spaces and uniquely configured deluxe guestrooms. 

The property will include a 3,000-square-foot destination bar; a 3,100-square- foot signature restaurant; a double-height lobby lounge area; more than 7,000 square feet of meeting space on the second and mezzanine floors, including the Grand Ballroom and a fitness center. The Hotel will be identified with a new marquee on Park Avenue, creating an elegant entrance compatible with the original structure. An entrance at the corner of Park Avenue South and 17th Street provides separate access to the restaurant, as well as a dedicated bar entrance at 17th Street.  Appealing to business travelers, the property will provide the latest in modern amenities and high-tech capabilities, as each guestroom will feature cutting-edge technology, including: 27” color TVs equipped with ultra-fast Internet access (via an infrared keyboard); high-speed dataport connectivity at speeds up to 100 times faster than conventional data modems, and private, secure E-mail access. Also standard for W Hotels, each room will have two telephones: one with dataport and speakerphone capabilities, another is a 900MHz cordless dual-line phone.

W trademarks include an oversized desk, upholstered chaise lounge, specially designed room accessories and natural fabrics throughout. The focus of all guestrooms is the luxurious W bed, with a pillow-top mattress, 250 thread-count linens, and goose down comforters and pillows. In addition to the amenities one would expect in an upscale hotel, the W guestroom includes a W CD; a coffeemaker with W’s own blend of coffee; a lush terry-lined, cotton pique W bathrobe; and custom-formulated Aveda bath products.  W Hotels have a signature service commitment that provides “whatever you want, whenever you want it.”

The premiere W Hotel, also designed by Rockwell Group, opened in New York in December 1998. This was followed by the 1999 openings of W Atlanta (February), W San Francisco (May); W Seattle (September); and W Honolulu - Diamond Head (October), and W New York - The Court The Tuscany (November), and W Los Angeles Westwood (December). A total of 20 W Hotels will be open by the end of 2001, including properties in Miami (South Beach); Newark, California; Chicago (two properties); New Orleans (two properties), Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, San Diego, as well as the company’s first international property in Sydney, Australia. 

W Hotels are managed (and in some cases, owned) by Starwood Hotels Resorts Worldwide, Inc., which operates more than 700 hotels in 72 countries and 130,000 employees at its owned and managed properties.

Norbert Beatty, 
[email protected]
both of GCI Group, 
for Starwood Hotels Resorts Worldwide
Also See: The Doral Court and Doral Tuscany Transforming into W Hotels / Nov 1999 
Starwood Soon to be Manhattan's Dominant Hotel Player with 6,100 Rooms / April 1999 

To search Hotel Online data base of News and Trends Go to Hotel.Online Search 
Home | Welcome! | Hospitality News | Classifieds | Catalogs & Pricing | Viewpoint Forum | Ideas/Trends
Please contact Hotel.Online with your comments and suggestions.