by Brendan M. Lynch | November 01, 2006

aloft renderings


It’s unreal:
The online prototype
of an aloft hotel

Starwood Hotels & Resorts’ first “aloft” brand hotels will not debut until 2008, but thousands of people already are roaming the lobby, guest rooms and lounges in an online version built into Second Life, a virtual world where players assume identities and interact.

Marc Schiller, the CEO and co-founder of Electronic Artists, developer of the virtual hotel, based the online property on artist renderings, architectural drawings and meetings with aloft’s designers. Though the cyber hotel is unstaffed, the online preview is a good representation of the brand’s loftlike goal.

“What’s been surprising is just how much being in a virtual hotel becomes immersive for people,” says Schiller. “While they’re still at their computers, they feel like they’re in the hotel. It’s fun and gives people a sense of what’s to come.”

Eventually, the design team plans to take what they learn from users’ habits in the virtual hotel and use it when building the real one.

For a free visit, go to