Sunday, November 2, 2008

Aloft will add two hotels

A Nashville hotel developer and a national chain are planning two new hotels in Nashville, despite a looming recession and a slumping lodging industry.

Platinum Hospitality, a Hermitage firm, has reached an agreement with Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc. to open two Aloft hotels in Davidson County — one downtown and one near Nashville International Airport — by the end of 2010.

The hotels will join a growing list of upscale, limited-service lodging offerings in Nashville. Sometimes known as "boutique" hotels, these include the Hutton Hotel, now under construction on West End Avenue; the Hotel Preston near the airport; and Hotel Indigo, which has opened one inn on West End and plans a second property downtown.

The hotels follow on the heels of Middle Tennessee's first Aloft hotel, which opened in Cool Springs last month. Aloft is geared at "youthful-minded travelers" who want the quality of a W hotel, another Starwood brand, but don't need the full services that pricey hotel offers.

"This is really a way to be able to expand W in another way to city centers and suburban markets that may not be able to support a W or two Ws," said Brad Minor, a Starwood spokesman.

The hotels will have 136 rooms each. Room rates will vary with seasonal demand and the market. Rates in the Aloft Nashville Cool Springs this weekend run from $160 to $220 a night, Minor said.

Goal is long term

Both hotels are part of a Starwood plan to open 500 Aloft hotels within the next five years.

The Nashville locations will be operated as franchises by Platinum, which also runs hotels for Marriot, Hilton and Intercontinental in Texas and Tennessee. They will be at 201 Seventh Ave. S. and 511 Royal Parkway. Plans are to open both late in 2010.

Mitch Patel, Platinum's president and chief executive, did not return calls seeking comment.

The hotels come even though Nashville's once-hot hotel market is showing signs of cooling. Through September, the average daily rate for a room had risen 6.7 percent to $95.51, but occupancy had fallen 5.8 percentage points to 63.1 percent, according to Smith Travel Research, a Hendersonville-based lodging industry research firm.

"We're really primed for long-term growth," Minor said. "It's a cycle, and by the time this hotel opens, we may be in a different place."

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