Starwood to Debut its New Aloft Hotels with a Virtual Aloft Property in ‘Second Life’ Virtual World

Travel Blog  •  Michael Yessis  •  08.16.06 | 6:01 AM ET

This is fascinating: Starwood Hotels & Resorts, the corporation behind Sheraton, W Hotels and other properties, will open its first Aloft hotel next month within the Second Life virtual world. The virtual Aloft will be patterned after the real-world Aloft hotels, a new brand of properties that emphasizes social interaction and is scheduled to debut sometime in 2008. According to a story by Nicole Girard, Starwood plans to make the virtual Aloft profitable on its own within Second Life and also to use it to gain feedback for the development of the real-world Aloft.

A third-party 3D-design firm called The Electric Sheep Company is working with Starwood to create the virtual Aloft.

Girard writes:

So far, what’s been completed in the Starwood project is the outer shell of the modern, angular, five-story hotel, which is located on Aloft Island’s tropical beachfront property. It was built based on a single exterior rendering provided by Starwood.

“We’re trying to make the hotel as close as possible to the actual hotel, but the environment will be different,” Constable said.

Surrounding the hotel is a walkway, a marina and a bridge that connects to the mainland, making it more accessible to the roughly 390,000 residents of “Second Life.”

Constable said the lobbies of other Starwood hotels begin the day for weary travelers by offering them a place to grab a coffee and croissant. At night, they’re transformed into cozy little bars with mood lighting and music, inviting people to stop in and stay.

This same format will be integrated into the new Aloft.

I don’t know much about Second Life, so I checked out Wikipedia page about the virtual world. It appears as though Starwood bought into an sweet virtual neighborhood. Among the inhabitants are singer-songwriter Susan Vega (she’ll be performing live this month in avatar form within Second Life), Wikipedia founder Jimbo Wales, Buddhist monk Bhante Kusaladharma and writer Kurt Vonnegut. If they’re all going to hang out in the virtual lobby with some virtual coffee and virtual croissants, sounds like the virtual Aloft could make a pretty interesting virtual weekend getaway when it opens next month.

So far, only certain privileged people are allowed to visit the under-construction hotel within Second Life, but sneak peeks can be seen at the developers’ Virtual Loft blog. also has an image gallery, and so does Starwood’s Web site (follow the “take a peek” link).

Thanks to Steve at Mexican Wave for the tip.

2 Comments for Starwood to Debut its New Aloft Hotels with a Virtual Aloft Property in ‘Second Life’ Virtual World

TambourineMan 08.17.06 | 12:28 AM ET

This sounds like a very complicated trip. What ever happened to simply dropping acid?

mike 08.17.06 | 8:20 AM ET

I’m no expert on the virtual world, but I wouldn’t be surprised if, once you’re inside, you drop virtual acid. It seems that “real.”

Commenting is not available in this weblog entry.