Starwood Hotels and Resorts, owners of Sheraton and W Hotels, will be launching a new hotel brand called “aloft” in 2008. But before the first real-world guest checks in, Starwood has built a virtual “aloft” hotel in the virtual world of the online massively multiplayer game Second Life.
The 3D hotel replica will launch in September and Second Life users will get a sneak peek at the same urban styling, loft-like rooms, outdoor landscaping and involved lounge scene that will be part of the upcoming real-world hotels.
Visitors can follow the week-to-week “construction” of the virtual hotel through a companion blog, virtualaloft.com. The website will be updated each week by the 3D developers as they design and build the hotel. “The aloft brand is about providing an escape from the ordinary and reinventing everyday experiences,” said “aloft” brand development VP Brian McGuinness in a statement.
He continues, “Our debut within Second Life will give digital travelers a chance to dream in another dimension, and unwind their virtual selves in our social spaces, such as w xyz, our aloft bar. They will be able to provide feedback on our designs and self-service features like the re:fuel grab & go gourmet food area – all before the first groundbreaking.”
The Second Life virtual world is “home” to more than 350,000 users around the world. Starwood plans its first real-world “aloft” hotel in 2008, and plans to eventually have 500 by 2012.