Starwood Hotels & Resorts’ Aloft brand of hotels have developed a dedicated following by offering travelers a modern and updated stay, full of spacious, loft-type rooms and energetic social settings. The new Aloft City Center in Chicago’s trendy River North neighborhood, designed by HOK, follows much of the same script, while also incorporating one of Aloft’s newest initiatives: an ongoing and exclusive collaboration with Design Within Reach (DWR). The result is a carefully curated space filled with iconic furnishings and modern curiosities, all designed to appeal to the design-savvy travelers key to Aloft's growth. We spoke with Brian McGuinness, senior vice president, specialty select brands for Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worlwide about the specification strategy, and what it says about the brand.
Interiors & Sources: Tell us about the Aloft brand in general—what does it stand for?
Brian McGuinness: Aloft delivers a fresh approach to the traditional hotel landscape. Developed for the ‘always-on’ traveler, we offer a tech-forward, vibrant experience and a modern lifestyle that is different by design. Each property is designed to deliver an urban-influenced, modern design and an energetic guest experience, from our loft-like rooms to forward-thinking tech like our Smart Check-In and Cool Concierge [platforms].
I&S: How does Aloft City Center stand out from the other properties in the brand’s portfolio?
BM: Aloft City Center shares the signature modern design that all Aloft Hotels are known for, but if there’s one thing that stands out about this hotel, it’s location, location, location. Our guests love being close to the River North district, and just a short walk away from the best that Chicago has to offer, including shopping on the Magnificent Mile, the Ferris wheel at Navy Pier, and shows in the Theatre District.
I&S: How did the partnership with Design Within Reach originally come about?
BM: In keeping with our authentic, design-led approach, we partnered with Design Within Reach to update and elevate our guest experience and our public spaces with iconic, modern pieces. Our partnership provides a strong consumer connection, reinforcing the fact that Aloft provides style within the select-serve segment.
I&S: Where can visitors find DWR products being used?
BM: Aloft’s DWR collection includes a mix of 23 custom and in-stock pieces, including Verner Panton Chairs used for the hotel’s backyard outdoor spaces, and Nelson Platform Benches, Satellite Chandeliers, Eames Molded Plastic Side Chairs, and Verpan Stools as used in the Re: Mix lounge and W XYZ bar spaces. Even casegoods and lighting have been included, such as the Orbit Square Table, and Nelson Ball, Cigar, and Pear pendants.
I&S: What has your collaboration brought to this mid-market property?
BM: Through our partnership with DWR, we provide guests with a unique experience that they do not come across often at other select-serve properties. DWR’s modern design transforms our bar and lounge spaces as places of innovation, individuality, and simplicity, and aligns nicely with Aloft and the next phase of our brand story as we continue to grow.
I&S: Does that partnership extend to other locations, or is it just in Chicago?
BM: Our partnership, pioneered at Aloft Harlem, has actually rolled out to Aloft hotels across the country, including Aloft Chicago City Center, Aloft Nashville West End, and Aloft Calgary University.