Every day is an adventure for the gal, especially when she is in New York. This is, after all, the centre of so much world activity that it made sense for Starwood Hotels & Resorts to bring the design and innovation teams of all its luxury hotel brands together in one place. Here, in what from outside looks a traditional 5th Avenue block, is one of the most exciting futuristic hives of creativity imaginable, more Google than hotels. Over 160 work here permanently, and people are always coming to visit, and pop-up shows pop-up, like this little display of colour. Nearby, LED screens relay, ticker-tape-style, a real-time record of any Starwood luxury brand being mentioned on Twitter.
Some walls similarly have screens showing real-time images being posted, by consumers, on Instagram – the biggest category by far is food close-ups. There are somewhat-formal rooms with rows of workspaces (but guess what, each desk can be lowered, or raised, at your will, very convenient if you prefer creating standing up). Walk on round and look out at the tenth floor inner courtyard, which becomes a party venue in summer. Here are cosy sitting areas, for hot-desking without the desk. There is a square library, with two heights of tiered seating around three walls, to make this a really versatile space. There are glass-walled rooms for small meetings, and each luxury brand has its own boardroom. Luxury Collection has a solid oak table, leather seats, and wood shutters at the windows.
St Regis‘ boardroom is edgy, off-white, with modernistic black and white tweed seating, and books on Bentley. W Hotels is a kaleidoscope of colour, with stylized likenesses, as here from W Mexico City, picked out in satin cushions. I am shown Le Méridien‘s eclectic organic-growth style, in its boardroom, and some new ideas for Westin. My brain can barely take in any more. I see a bike room. Perhaps there is a time for a quick workout to recover but the room is merely filled with meat hooks, hanging from the ceiling. No, this is not a workout space but a hideaway to store your commuting bike to prevent it being stolen, or at least amputated, in the streets outside.
I first heard about Starlab from Paul James, when he so boosted Starwood‘s luxury brands – but then he threw that all in to attempt to make diggers, in the form of JCB, sexy. Today, I have been shown round by Mike Tiedy, Starwood‘s SVP Global Brand Design and Innovation. So, thank you Paul, and thank you Mike, and I leave, knowing from now on I will look at luxury hotels, especially those in Starwood‘s luxury portfolio, in a new light. I also wonder if getting Starlab is one of the reasons Marriott is buying the entire Starwood Hotels & Resorts portfolio….