"There was a sameness that seemed unnecessarily terrible. It was as if everything was specified out of the ugly carpet catalog," says architect David Rockwell, referring to stalwart midlevel hotel chains such as Hilton Garden Inn. Starwood Hotels & Resorts asked Rockwell to help it develop some fresh ideas, and Aloft Hotels, debuting this summer, is the result. "We thought, Why can’t we bring something similar to our W experience down to the masses?" says VP Brian McGuinness, who expects to charge a 10% to 15% premium over the Courtyards of the world (say, $165 a night versus $150). Starwood plans to open 72 Alofts by the end of 2009 and ultimately 500 worldwide.
A version of this article appeared in the July/August 2008 issue of Fast Company magazine.