Ian Schrager may have pioneered the boutique hotel concept but Starwood upped the ante considerably when it recently made a path-breaking announcement by appointing a "fashion director" or "stylist" for its W hotels.
The Wall Street Journal reports that the 36 hotel chain is "Putting a new spin on the term "designer hotel," (by) hiring a fashion director to amp up its style credentials and its profile within the fashion industry. After a two-year search, the chain is planning to announce next week—on Feb. 11, the opening day of New York Fashion Week—that it has hired stylist Amanda Ross in what is very likely a first for the hotel industry."
Starwood's move is of a piece with a venture last September when "W Hotels pressed to forge ties with music and fashion by hiring a music director, Michaelangelo L'Acqua, who has worked with designer Tom Ford and at Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent." The Journal notes that "fashion has been a potent marketing vehicle for everything from bottled water to tennis star Roger Federer."
W may be on to more than a trend as the lens for fashion gets wider and encompasses areas beyond the catwalk and on to event management, locales and, importantly, a tourism generator. Boutique hotels have sprung up around the world in response to customers being more attuned and demanding of design elements. Stylizing the service delivery and facilities component is surely a winning formula that will attract the metrosexual person.
The latter term originated as a portmanteau blending metropolitan (stylish) and heterosexual male but is increasingly gender-neutral, merely meaning a generation of younger folk who are successful, stylish and highly selective about how they spend their money and with whom and where they spend their time.
The where likely is a metro-sexual hotel such as the W chain or, in New York, new entrants such as the Eventi and Distrikt.Vijay is Chief Operating Officer and part-founder of Apple Core Hotels- a chain of 5 midtown Manhattan hotels offering value and comfort in the heart of the city.Member of the board of Directors - Hotel Association of New York.