Starwood's Aloft Hotel in Second Life: First Impressions

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by: Ilya Vedrashko

Starwood Hotels and Resorts has been building an SL model of its upcoming Aloft hotel and last week the word got out that the place was open for visitors.

Since the company itself has been blogging in great detail about the project's progress at and YesButNoButYes beat me by a week to the pictures, I'll only write about a few small things I found peculiar about this particular branded build.

So yes, the hotel does look great. Like other ad builds, it sits on a private island and is surrounded by an invisible wall so there's no direct non-TP communication with the mainland.

Empty hotel lobbies give me creeps ever since I saw The Shining.

A lovely touch — a coffee-table art book that consists of the best Snapzilla pics. Wonder if the pictures are pulled onto the pages dynamically, so that you can always have the most recent issue.

A monitor that upon touch offers to open the hotel's web page (in a real browser window).

There's this strange vending machine that spews out Aloft-branded headphones. Couldn't figure why.

Will the real Aloft sell self-branded mineral water? Why is the orange juice labeled simply Orange Juice?

There are quite a few floors in the hotel but the elevators are not running (the button looked pushed). I don't think you can really go up beyond the first floor at all. Wonder what the empty space looks like, though.

Another nice touch: a recent copy of the SL Business magazine.

That's a really big bed.

Interesting choice of magazine textures: Ready Made and Real Simple (both fixer-upper magazines). Besides, the guy who lives next door wears the same shirt. Or maybe this guy booked two rooms. Or maybe Aloft gives away Gap-looking shirts as pajamas.

If you read Business Week, you'll find out that "for Starwood, opening aloft in Second Life is a way to test-market the hotel's design and rapidly prototype the evolving concept. For instance, staffers will observe how people move through the space, what areas and types of furniture they gravitate towards, and what they ignore."

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