By JASON SHEFTELL
DAILY NEWS REAL ESTATE CORRESPONDENT
Friday, May 2nd 2008, 4:00 AM
What do you get when you put 75 design-conscious, highly opinionated international style junkies in a giant warehouse space overlooking the Hudson River with hardly any walls, ambient music and storyboards cluttered with colorful magazine tear sheets?
Photo is of a living room in Hoboken's W Hotel
Or the new version of W Hotel, as it can be defined today. In 10 years since it opened its first hotel on New York's Lexington Ave. as a jazzy business alternative to bland competitors' monotone color schemes and adult contemporary elevator music, the Starwood-owned hotel group has grown into a 21-property destination with 35 more on the way.
Future locations include Dubai, downtown New York, Marrakesh, Philadelphia, Austin, Hollywood and Hoboken. While the meaning of the letter W remains a mystery even to employees, there is no mistaking the significance of the chain's growth: It's among the fastest ever experienced in high-end hotels.
"W has become the darling of the hotel world," says John Keeling, a hotel analyst with PKF Consulting. "I think their success surprised even them. They managed to get such high room rates, they catapulted themselves into the high four-star, low five-star range. That's unprecedented. It's at the point now where if a developer has a piece of land in a prime location, W is their first choice."
Evolving into hotel residences where properties have permanent condominium living options, W has morphed into a way of life for guests and homeowners. While you think the demographic might skew young, age is irrelevant to today's W buyer and guest.
"In Hoboken, we were still waiting for certain materials to arrive for the sales showroom when the residential portion sold out," says Ross Klein, president of Starwood's Luxury Brands Group, overseeing W, St. Regis, and The Luxury Collection. "Buyers came from all life stages. It proved the demographic for W is an attitude, not a number or age."
Developed by the long-established Hoboken-based Applied Development Co., and sold by the Marketing Directors, the W Hoboken has 225 hotel rooms and 40 residences. The project generated so much interest locally that a resident filmed the March 14 moment when the giant purple letter W was raised to the building's roof, uploading the video to YouTube.com.
Designed by architects Gwathmey Siegel & Associates, the river-front white and gray, glass and zinc, 25-story W has a rooftop terrace bar and a double-height lobby lounge overlooking the water. From the Hudson River, the W is the dominant architectural structure on the Hoboken waterfront.
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Epilogue: Not so different from F1 City Center at The Fort. Watch out for our next post.