One-Tank Trip for April 11/15
(c) By Jim Fox
Not all new hotels are created equally.
Take, for instance, Aloft hotels that are billed as “hip, hot and happening.”
Called the “tech-forward, innovation hub for millennial-minded travellers,” Aloft is emerging across Canada, after its launch in Montreal in 2008 and then Vaughan Mills in the Greater Toronto Area and Calgary.
|Funky furniture adorns the “Savvy Suite” bedroom at Aloft Atlanta Downtown. (Barbara Fox photo)|
Also within a “one-tank trip” are just-opened Aloft offerings in Detroit and Buffalo, with distinctive styles all their own in these loft-style retreats.
This pioneering brand with its “social guest experience” is big on the techy elements as it introduced the industry’s first robotic butler delivering amenities to guest’s rooms.
Then, there’s Smart Check-in, called the first mobile, keyless entry system allowing guests to use their smart phone as the key to their rooms.
It’s what they like to call “forward-thinking initiatives that are part of the brand’s innovative DNA.”
|Colourful furnishings of the cool "Corner Suite"at David Whitney Aloft in downtown Detroit. (Jim Fox photo)|
Rated highly by guests for customer service, contemporary style, amenities and low room prices (from $111 a night in Toronto), the now international chain with 100 properties is part of Starwood Hotels & Resorts, operator of W Hotels, Sheraton and Westin brands.
Some guests have commented on the barrage of colours, shapes and lingo used by staff as starting with checking in, you will see and hear the differences immediately.
Our first experience was in Atlanta when Ruben on the front desk offered us margaritas and a bite to eat at the buzzing mix lounge and WXYZ bar.
|The livingroom of the suite at Aloft Atlanta Downtown. (Barbara Fox photo)|
Our “Savvy Suite” was filled with bright, funky furniture and industrial design throwbacks to groovy days gone by.
Bryan Johns, director of operations, greeted us with an “aloha” and welcomed us to the “sassy and savvy” Aloft Atlanta Downtown.
Then, an overnight in a “Cool Corner Suite” at the new Aloft at the David Whitney in downtown Detroit was an historic treat.
General manager Jeff Rieck said this “adaptive re-use project” transformed the historic 1915 building at One Park Ave.
The decorative exterior elements removed in 1959 were restored along with the four-storey lobby with glass atrium.
|The historic lobby has been restored to its former glory at Detroit's Aloft at the David Whitney. (Jim Fox photo)|
It’s on the People Mover route and within walking distance to Comerica Park, Fox Theatre and the Detroit Opera House in the Arts and Entertainment District.
Toronto’s trendy “boutique-style” Aloft has 131 loft-like guest rooms near Vaughan Mills Shopping Centre, Canada’s Wonderland and Legoland Discovery Centre.
The spacious guest rooms feature Aloft’s signature three-metre-high ceilings, oversized windows and an ultra-comfortable platform bed as well as large walk-in showers with Bliss Spa products.
|The Aloft Vaughan Mills hotel in the Greater Toronto Area has 131 loft-like guest rooms.|
As with all Alofts, there is fast-and-free wireless Internet access throughout the hotel and plug-and-play connectivity to connect electronic devices to the 42'' flat-screen TV, turning the room into a high-tech office as well as an entertainment centre.
There’s the “re:charge” fitness centre, Splash the indoor pool and “re:fuel by Aloft,” a one-stop, 24-hour gourmet grab-and-go food and beverage area.
For business meetings, there are three Tactic meeting rooms equipped with the latest generation of audio-visual hardware.
|This cool clock on the bedroom night side table is a feature of Aloft hotels. (Barbara Fox photo)|
All of the hotels offer live, free access to local emerging artists as well as some of the hottest bands with Live at Aloft events.
Aloft Buffalo opened last December with 153 guest rooms and is 10 minutes from the Buffalo Niagara International Airport and offers free 24-hour airport shuttles.
It’s also near Walden Galleria Mall, Buffalo Zoo, Buffalo Museum of Science and First Niagara Center.
‘You rang, sir?’
If you call for basic items such as a toothbrush, towels or snacks at Aloft Cupertino in California’s Silicon Valley, A.L.O. is on the job.
|A.L.O., a hotel butler, is being tested by Aloft hotels|
This is the hotel’s first “Botlr (robotic butler)” in a pilot project with an aim to expand A.L.O. clones to all of its properties.
This charismatic cyber associate, once loaded up with the requested items, heads for the guest room, navigating the hallways and calling for the elevator using Wi-Fi.
The almost metre-high robotic operative designed to assist staff is “professionally dressed in a custom shrink-wrapped, vinyl collared uniform and nametag.”
Wondering about tips? A.L.O. “modestly accepts tweets as tips” as its wheels whizz from task to task.
For more information: alofthotels.com; 1-877-GO-ALOFT
Jim Fox can be reached at email@example.com
For more One-Tank Trips: http://1tanktrips.blogspot.ca