Overview of the aloft brand hotels

Discussion in 'Starwood | Preferred Guest' started by MSPeconomist, Apr 5, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. MSPeconomist
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    Starwood's aloft brand is still somewhat new. It is a division of W, but targets a different market segment. More than other Starwood brands (and perhaps because they are new), aloft hotels tend to be very standardized with many features that are identical from one property to another.

    In the following discussion, to avoid repetition I will avoid use of qualifying words such as generally, frequently, etc. which should be understood. The generalizations and opinions expressed below are based on my own experiences and might well admit exceptions.

    Clientele: Aloft customers tend to be young and well educated. A manager once recited some statistics about their demographic to me which I won't try to reproduce, but I remember themes such as high tech/IT industry, income level (high for the age distribution), and Morris Mini or Prius owners. Sometimes the other guests seem to be extremely young and the hotel can resemble a very nice and trendy college dorm. Insulation isn't great, so noise can be a problem. The same manager also told me that they would prefer that guests only use their rooms for sleeping, showering, and dressing, spending the rest of their time in the lobby lounge, either socializing or using laptops.

    Physical description: Aloft buildings have a distinctive two-tone grey and silver exterior. They tend to be about four stories high, frequently L-shaped with a protected courtyard area. They are located near airports or in suburban areas, sometimes on the edge of downtown but they will not be found in downtown neighborhoods where land is extremely expensive. Windows and mechanicals (noisy window heat and AC systems) are standardized.

    Rooms: Standard hotel rooms have one or two beds, a desk with outlets and a light, a second table/shelf in front of the window, desk chairs, and bedside tables. They are decorated in dark/bright colors and fabrics using stripes. There is an alarm clock (fancy retro style) and a flatscreen TV with remote and standard cable channels. The entry area has a sink and storage hanging areas on the way to the bathroom (toilet and shower stall with toiletry dispensers). There is no door of any sort on the closet. Soap and glasses are provided. Toiletries aren't especially unique or luxurious. Rooms are equipped with coffee makers and coffee supplies. There is a dorm-sized cube refrigerator under the sink. A few magazines are in the room; more are available in the lobby.

    Amenities: Aloft hotels have small indoor pools (about 3-5 feet deep) oriented toward adults with a fun and stylish pool area. There is a moderate health club with up to date exercise machines. The lobby has a variety of seating styles and games; it includes a stylish bar and some self-service computer stations. The front desk is in the center of an area rather than backed up against a wall. A small market area with cold packaged items and a microwave and coffee machine are present.

    Services: This is not meant to be a full service hotel, but they provide what is necessary for younger business and leisure travellers. There is no full restaurant, although the bar may offer snacks in addition to the market items. Some (but not all) hotels have a "room service" arrangement with an interesting nearby restaurant to deliver takeout food to rooms; you may find a menu for this in the room. (Examples include a Japanese sushi restaurant with a varied menu and a fish house and it seems acceptable to consume outside food in the lobby but YMMV.) I haven't tried to find pressing, laundry, and dry cleaning services but my guess would be yes if you bring the items to the front desk. Luggage storage is no problem. There may be airport transportation. Self-service parking is available depending on the constraints of the location. Staff are young, willing, and friendly, but should not be confused with concierge professionals.

    Platinum recognition: Do not expect upgrades: essentially all rooms are identical, although I've always had rooms in preferred locations (view, floor, quiet location). Standard Plat amenity is 250 SPG points. However, I'm usually given some sort of minor welcome token, such as a snack bar or Starbucks beverage with a handwritten welcome note, which is a nice touch. I've never has an issue regarding the 4 pm checkout time.

    Overall: Do not expect the style, luxury or service of a W. The aloft brand can be a great value and fun, but it is not suitable for everyone.
     
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  2. QF009
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    Thanks for that comprehensive overview. I've never stayed at an Aloft but am rather curious about them. A friend stayed at the one in Dallas and had a good time. He loves Ws and but thinks Alofts are a good alternative when traveling on a budget.
     
  3. KENNECTED
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    Good overall review but I have noticed that some properties are unique. I think the Dallas Aloft is a historical property and the, new built, Aloft Harlem near me has condo's above.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    As the brand grows, it will be interesting to see how the overall design concept evolves.

    I do know that they really try to get people into the bars at nights as I've been to lip sync and themed nights at the Harlem property, although have never stayed in an aloft property.
     
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  4. MSPeconomist
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    Thanks for the pictures and welcome to MP.
     
  5. KENNECTED
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    Thanks for the welcome. :) You know I love pictures/videos and I'm hoping to contribute a lot! :cool:LOL
     
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  6. bakedpatato
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    Wait, does that mean that I am not in the Aloft demograhpic? Well at one point I did want a Mini Cooper...
    I'm also very quiet for a college student :p
    Anyway, it seems like Aloft is really targeted for silly young hipsters like me and I'm looking forward to staying at one.
     
  7. KENNECTED
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    The above, no (or very few) suites and cookie cutter properties is why it's highly unlikely I'll be at a Aloft. and it's not like I'm that old.
     
  8. bakedpatato
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    (I don't care much for suites so the all rooms are the same thing works fine for me.)
    To be fair you're right; I've seen the Alofts in ATL and Harlem and I have to say they look very similar on the inside...its not like Starwood doesn't have nice unique properties(the Royal Hawaiian immediately pops up in my mind).
    At the same time you could make the argument that cookie cutter = familiar a la McD's overseas. But yeah, I imagine it will get boring.
    And I'll bet I am quite a bit younger than you :p
     
  9. KENNECTED
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    Jail bait! :p:D
     
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  10. bakedpatato
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    Hmm....nope ;)
     
  11. Chad
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    Good summary. I've only stayed at one Aloft (SAT), as far as the lower range of hotel goes it seemed ok for an overnight stay. I'd suggest the marketing guys may have forgotten to tell this hotel about the targeted clientele - because if it was suppose to be young hipsters - the guests missed the memo. Unless, of course, I am so out of touch that I failed to notice the rise of the faux-farmer-non-chic-denim-movement.
     
  12. Flews
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    Never stayed, never tried, DEFINATELY don't fit the demographic. Hell, some of the Westins are to avant guarde for me!

    Cheers,
     
  13. KENNECTED
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    Flewsie...Flewsie...Flewsie....what are we to do with you? Tsk..tsk..tsk :p
     
  14. Flews
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    Well it's about time you showed up Kennected/CE!

    I'll take the Plaza over an Aloft anytime...

    Cheers,
     
  15. Astrophy
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    Missing:
    Rooms - Doors that slam so loud in the morning you will dream that you are in a prison :)
     
  16. bakedpatato
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    I think that describes SAT and Davis as well :D
     
  17. secretsea18
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    I have stayed in the aLoft at ORD.

    Very nice property once you find it... it is tucked away around a corner, and then a side street, etc...

    Taxi driver could not find it!
    But otherwise similar to the OP discription.
     
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  18. monitor
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    Aloft at the Houston Galleria is one place to avoid on weekends. It has become the venue for some groups which hold crowded and loud weekly get-togethers and who make the entire lobby area almost unusable. Check-in can only be accomplished with the use of hand signals.

    Additionally, there is very little security since on those evenings you will find drunks with drinks in hand roaming the corridors upstairs carousing, looking for people, and knocking (sometimes randomly on doors) thinking that they had found the correct room.

    To go along with this, the parking lot is sometimes too full to accommodate paying guests and the room design has never been to my taste. It is tough for two people to find enough places to put things. However, I will concede that the bed at this hotel was extremely comfortable so that if they fix the security lapses, it could be acceptable for a one night weekday overnight for a solo traveler.
     
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  19. Derek
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    I am quite unfamiliar with Aloft, but judging from this thread they sound like a good place to come across the infamous hipster traps. One point I'm a bit confused on though is the seeming emphasis on the lobby bars at Aloft, along with the emphasis on not being full service. Could someone kindly clarify whether Aloft hotels have full service, open until last call type bars, or are these self service food-wine-beer only type bars?

    My choice of hotel is more often than not made with the primary consideration being it's proximity to a/multiple watering holes so this information would really help me out. Thanks!
     
  20. MSPeconomist
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    In the alofts that I've visited, the bars are full service bars with bartenders who mix drinks, etc. They seem to emphasize trendy cocktails somewhat. I've always ordered drinks at the bar, so I'm not sure that there would be a waiter/waitress during all opening hours to come to your seat to take the order and then bring the drink to you. The bars seem to stay open late at night, although perhaps not as late as they legally could. I recall closing times (usually last call is 15 minutes earlier) of midnight during the week and 1 am (or 2 am) on at least Fridays and Saturdays, but this will depend very much on state and local licensing laws.

    When I said that these are not full service hotels I was trying to stress in particular that there is no proper restaurant in the hotel. There's also no turn down service, valet service for shoeshine, etc. I've never tried, but I would anticipate that for laundry and dry cleaning, the hotel staff would expect you to bring the items to the front desk yourself rather than calling for someone to come and fetch them from your room.
     
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  21. Derek
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    Thank you! That's exactly the info I was looking for. Next time I am in an Aloft area I will check one out! As an SPG junkie I'd like to be able to say I had stayed in every category of Starwood hotel, and the only two I've yet to try are Element and Aloft.
     
  22. MSPeconomist
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    You're welcome. Please report back, ideally with a review.

    One more comment on the bar: They're fashionable ultra-modern design with an pretty impressive array of bottles. However, these are not the sort of bars, IME, where everyone wears black and looks expensively dressed. There's more of a mix of trendy, college student, sportswear, business attire, business casual, etc. and many people will have laptops or ipads.
     
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  23. SC Flier
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    At least at the Aloft Broomfield (Colorado), there is a room on at least one floor with coin-operated laundry. The door requires access with a room key, I think. While this is different than sending it out, it's an option that I like since hotel laundry service is usually quite expensive. I suspect that this might be a standard across the brand.

    During the week, that particular hotel's bar closes at midnight. I'm not sure about weekends. Though mixed drinks seem to be the main feature, they also have a selection of some very decent wines by the glass.
     
  24. Wurm
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    This was the mix of clientele that I found during my so-far only aloft stay, at the BWI location, Although I'm over the demographic target age, I didn't feel out of place, and found the staff (clerks and managers) friendly and welcoming without a hint of attitude. I very much liked the design in the room and the public areas. I'm pretty good at tuning out ambient noise, so noisy air conditioners and slamming doors are not a real issue for me (I live very near a raliroad track in a downtown city area, so I guess I've developed a tolerance).;)

    One other positive factor is the shuttle service that many locations provide. In my case, not only did the aloft shuttle pick up at the airport and the nearby Amtrak station, they also provided free round-trip shuttle service to nearby restaurants - in my case to the vaunted G&M restaurant, home of some of the best crabcakes ever! On my return, the college-aged driver and I discussed the merits of how much Old Bay seasoning is good in the ideal crabcake - now THAT is hip! :D:cool:
     
  25. KENNECTED
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    Video on the aloft Smart Check-In. Filmed at and in front of the Aloft Harlem.

    Please note the first 20 seconds were filmed in one of the Condo units above the aloft.

     

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