Starwood's on a creative roll

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It seems not a month goes by when Starwood announces an industry-forward initiative—be it the W brandâ€â„¢s bold nonsmoking hotel proclamation, introduced this past winter, a new lobby scents program being rolled out to 600 properties or last yearâ€â„¢s groovy aloft select service boutique concept.

This month was no exception—I logged on my computer yesterday to find yet another new concept from Starwood being heralded—the mysteriously named "Project ESW."

The new upper upscale extended stay brand, inspired by Westin Hotels, will feature a "sophisticated, residential product designed to be a refreshing haven in a space rendered rote with look-alike brands and generic features," claims the company. Instead of working with traditional hotel designers, Westin has partnered with Costas Kondylis, a Manhattan-based residential architect who has completed more than 45 major towers in New York and interior design firm AvroKO, considered innovators in creating smart space living. Starwood will debut the yet-to-be-named brand to hotel developers next week at the New York University International Hospitality Investment Conference.

According to Starwoodâ€â„¢s CEO Steven Heyer, Starwood initially considered acquiring an existing extended stay brand, but ultimately decided to start from scratch. "The product in this segment is frankly pretty boring," says Heyer.

While itâ€â„¢s too soon to say which of some of these initiatives will be hits or misses, I continue to be amazed by the companyâ€â„¢s creativity, aggressiveness and timeliness. Cautious itâ€â„¢s not—and I can only imagine how fun it would be to sit in on a company brainstorming session.

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