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W Hotels Worldwide Hits 45th Hotel Milestone

From the 12 th annual International Luxury Travel Market (ILTM), W Hotels Worldwide (NYSE:HOT), the global design powerhouse, today announced the opening of its 45 th hotel and first ever-ski retreat, W Verbier, as it marks 15 years of industry innovation this month. On track to reach more than 60 hotels by 2017, W redefines the contemporary hotel experience with each new opening, offering cutting-edge design, Whatever/Whenever ® service, buzzing bars and restaurants, and insider access to what’s new and next for both its guests and locals alike. Following its 1998 debut in New York City, W now boasts a global portfolio of 45 hotels and retreats and continues to be the fastest growing luxury brand in the history of lodging.

“The lasting impact W Hotels has made on the hotel industry cannot be overstated,” said Frits van Paasschen, Chief Executive Officer and President of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide. “Over the past 15 years, W has turned the staid hospitality landscape on its head and demonstrated that a hotel is more than a place to check in and checkout as it continues to reinvent the category it created with each new hotel opening around the world.”

An Industry Revolution Amplified

The opening of W Verbier continues the W brand’s aggressive global growth, which began 15 years ago with the debut of the David Rockwell-designed W New York in the heart of midtown Manhattan. W ushered in a new era of hospitality, launching a new category in lodging that combined the spirit of the then-emerging boutique hotel with the hospitality expertise and service know-how of a veteran hotelier. The hotel landscape hasn’t been the same since its debut, and today, the effects of the W brand’s innovations are still widely felt – and often imitated – including: the introduction of the W brand’s signature Whatever/Whenever service philosophy; the creation of the W Insider, a modern-day concierge of cool who creates personalized experiences for guests within the destination; the transformation of the traditional, transactional hotel lobby into the W Living Room centered around cocktail culture; the concept of the hotel as a cultural hub with the introduction of W Happenings events, which focus on what’s new in design, fashion, music, and entertainment; the introduction of W Hotels The Store SM, a complete departure from the hotel sundries shop; the appointment of a Global Music Director, who curates 24-hour soundtracks and live music performances at W Hotels globally; the reinterpretation of the traditional hotel lexicon (associates became Talent; gym became FIT SM; pool deck became WET SM); and the launch of the popular W Hotels iPhone app, which provides W loyalists with hours of streaming DJ mixes around various moods. Only six years after launching, the W brand’s popularity also spawned the creation of Starwood’s Aloft brand, which offers the “always on” generation of travelers style at a steal with currently more than 75 hotels in 14 countries.

Insider Access to What’s New and Next

Disrupting the traditional hospitality approach, W Hotels has shaped a unique lifestyle positioning through its passions for design, fashion and music. W provides a global platform for emerging talent, offering guests and locals insider access to what’s new and next in the destination and around the world. For example, W Hotels has been the first hospitality partner of the CFDA {FASHION INCUBATOR} program, providing exposure for these rising designers outside of New York City through regional fashion showcases and global inspiration trips to W Hotels around the world. Throughout the year, W also hosts regular live music performances and DJ sets in its Living Rooms and conducts an annual “DJ Lab,” at which international emerging DJs are mentored by industry giants in preparation for a global tour of W Hotels. Finally, W not only collaborates with cutting-edge design talent on its new hotels and retreats – from Concrete for W Verbier to Studio Gaia for W Bogota – but also through its ongoing relationship with Design Miami/ Basel and the W Hotels Designers of the Future Award, which recognizes up-and-coming designers and studios that are expanding the field of design. This year’s winners traveled to various W Hotels for inspiration and will see their projects installed in the Living Rooms of those hotels in early 2014.

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