Tuesday, July 31, 2012

At Last! Atlanta is Going Aloft

Starwood Hotels & Resorts is finally bringing its new-ish Aloft hotel brand to Atlanta. The brand was introduced in 2005, and the first hotel opened at Trudeau International Airport in Montreal in 2008. Rather than constructing a new hotel, the Aloft Atlanta Downtown will open in place of anexisting Days Inn on Spring Street.  Miramar Beach, Florida-based Banyan Investment Group, in association with Tampa-based DeBartolo Development LLC plan to pump $25 million into the hotel and re-open it next summer.  For the time being, the hotel will operate with no branding and simply be known as the "Hotel ATL."

Hotel conversions have been a popular way to expand or launch hotels in Atlanta in recents years given the cost effectiveness of a renovation versus a new build.  The Mansion on Peachtree: A Rosewood Hotel and Residences was rebranded Mandarin Oriental Atlanta earlier this year, while the nearby Holiday Inn Express on Pharr Road was rebranded Quality Inn.  Hotel Palomar on West Peachtree became Renaissance Atlanta Midtown, while the former Renaissance nearby became the first Meliá Hotel in the United States.  The W Perimeter closed last year and was rumored to be rebranding as an Aloft, but instead it will become Georgia's first Le Méridien, a full-service upscale hotel from Starwood, and is scheduled to open next fall. 

The 80s era Days Inn downtown currently has 263 rooms but that number will be reduced to 242 after the renovation.  Atlanta-based Noble Investment Group did a similar, but far more costly conversion in Buckhead when it converted the Crowne Plaza into the W Buckhead.  Noble spent about $100 million to convert the aging structure from what was built as a Days Inn, later became a Holiday Inn, and was in 2007 a Crowne Plaza... to the far more swanky, W brand. 

Aloft, a limited-service hotel, is billed as "a vision of W Hotels" and offers similarly hip and colorful hotels but at a lower price.  I had the opportunity to visit an Aloft hotel in Portland, Oregon last year and found the hotel quite nice.  As opposed to the Hotel Indigo boutique brand from InterContinental Hotels Group that simply feels like a more colorful Holiday Inn, Aloft has obvious similarities to the W, but also nice differences as well.  The signature "w xyz" bar is planned to be a part of the new Atlanta property, as well as an outdoor pool called "splash" akin to the W pool "wet."

This is the furthest Aloft has come in its attempts to open in Atlanta.

An Aloft hotel was planned for a parcel near the existing W downtown, but it has yet to materialize. "Aloft Post Park" was to be constructed in partnership with Hal Barry of Barry Real Estate and Post Properties, but the chances of it happening seem slim, given the new Aloft is a mere four tenths of a mile from the previously planned project.

A dual branded Element hotel / Aloft hotel (both Starwood brands) was said to be opening in Buckhead but that seems unlikely after being pushed repeatedly.  The two hotels were to be built on top of each other at the intersection of Piedmont and Peachtree Roads where there is currently a Rooms To Go store.  Sources say the land will still be used for an upcoming development that may very well include a hotel, it's just unclear what hotel or when this may happen.  Other Aloft hotels were planned for (and listed as coming soon on the hotel's website) in Alpharetta, Savannah, and near Hartsfield-Jackson, but all of them have since been shelved or canceled.    

Have you been to an Aloft hotel?  Do you prefer Aloft or W? What is your favorite boutique hotel brand?

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great to hear! Big win for downtown... glad to hear the hotel bar is coming with it too. Stayed in an a loft once and, like you, found it quite nice.
Now, that element/aloft to replace rooms to go would be an amazing win for that space... Ill keep wishing!

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