I can’t imagine that SPG would ever let their members go home without a goodie bag and for that matter, couldn’t imagine aloft letting their guests leave without a pleasant memory as well, so, I like the others did not leave empty handed – let me spill the bag for you.
Here’s the breakdown:
- Speaker with keychain for your iPod/iPhone
- An aloft hotels rubik cube
- Soy candle
- Perfect grabber for handles
- More gummi bears (sorry, none left)
- Collection of Starwood Hotels picture postcards
- wine puller/corkscrew from Jacob’s Creek
- $10 gift certificate from Fretzels by Jill (which is a coated pretzel treat that you can get addicted to)
- A signed CD from Michelle Williams, We Break the Dawn
- A nice “Starwood Preferred Guest welcomes aloft” notebook
and finally, a very, very nice heavy felt purse/bag to carry it all home in.
NOW, that’s not all. On the way out the door to catch the bus, this guy really doesn’t go goo-goo over the bags contents and figures that he would just look it over when he gets back home. So off into the night and off to the airport the very next day. Just an overnighter so it’s pure carryon and carry forward. Ah……. until Mr. TSA wiggles his finger (politely I must say) and motions me aside without my shoes on. It seems that my carry on contains violations. Well, beyond my nice little plastic bag of mentionables, it seems that the aloft goodie bag contains a warrant for my immediate inspection.
It seems that I really should have looked the goodie bag over. It contains a nice bottle of Stolichnaya vodka and a complete gift pack of those lovely Bliss products that will be featured in every aloft room. So that is why they are not included in the actual picture of the goodie bag above, but rather, pictured below (against the lovely backdrop of floor tile at LGA). As I bid those lovely gifts goodbye – I hope the dumpster divers enjoy them – off I flew with nothing but great memories of how SPG continues to earn great customer contact from their members and the sneek preview of the newest addition to the Starwood brand.
Sure, I understand the “to each their own” thing when it comes to travel so bear with me on this one. In more than 20 years of the highways and byways of travel, I’ve yet to master the alarm clock. I’m deaf in one ear so have always been paranoid to hearing the wake up call so I routinely use the manual backup of the alarm clock. From the “swiss army knife” version of alarm clocks to ones I still have to wind up (a motel outside of Lander, Wyoming), they just bug me. But aloft has solved my fears with the first honest-to-goodness simple approach to waking my tired self up. Take a look at this clock and tell me it doesn’t say simple!
… oh yea, aloft hotels! With all the excitement of the evening, it might be easy to overlook the hotel chain launch. But considering plans for 500 of them by 2009 or 2010 (I’ll check the facts) this will make aloft bigger than Four Points and in the very same price category so this might just be the next big thing for Starwood Hotels (though I did see a sneak at element, the “Vision” of Westin Hotels as well).
Here’s a few points of observation:
- Same kind of trendy use of words to describe activities and events: splash is the pool, rinse is the DIY car wash, tactic is the meeting space, arf is the pet-friendly program … you get the idea. Granted, this may grind on you after awhile but for now, it does provide the up-tempo and current feeling of the hotel and it’s space. Some of us went through that period of our lives when W Hotels first opened. Heck, I’m still trying to not adopt the Whatever, Whenever attitude with friends even though it is a good attitude.As limited service, it would serve most everyone’s needs. The rooms don’t have drawers which might surprise some but in my years of travel I’ve found the extra bed or floor works fine anyway. As well, the trendy move to conserve our environment might set a few of you off to the wxyz bar – such as no bar soap in the shower, there is a liquid soap caddy much as you’d find in hotels in Europe. Hey, it’s all Bliss products soit certainly can’t be that bad for you. But in my enlightenment of the spaces (pool table in the lobby in case you need to hustle up some conversation) here’s what it comes down to me for the good and the bad:
BAD: Return the short ironing board. If three feet of runway for ironing out your clothes works for you then move on to the good stuff. But after a life devoted to seeing the distinction of the short ironing board, seeing it return as “trendy” has just put a burn on me (OK, so it’s not so bad, but i had to find something wrong).
GOOD: I learned from one of the executives the exact room sizes and the tip is that if you always order up the double queen beds rather than the single kind bed, your room will always be larger. I like that anyway since I always through my junk on the other bed anyway. But there it is, an upgrade tip for you (a bigger room is always considered an upgrade these days!)
OK, there I was just chatting away with other SPG members when the opportunity presented itself for me to “sneak” backstage and see up-close-and-personal what happens when the “talent” leaves the stage. So, following a well-inspected, but short line of “people” I tagged along up the stairs and found the lovely Michelle Williams hosting the SPG members who bid their points for a Moments moment with her, photo-op and all. Here’s what it looks like backstage:
And here’s the lucky winner of the SPG Moments package with Michelle:
And here’s the magical pass that got us backstage. As close to feeling like a “roadie” as it gets.
OK, we’ve all heard rumors of the “divas” and their distance from the crowds. Not in this case, in fact Michelle almost convinced us all that she could be competing for an upgrade the next time we bump into each other at the special SPG check-in desk. Truth is this performer did take time out to chat with the special guests and many will have a wonderful memory over the years – captured both on this blog and in the many memory cards of cameras everywhere. But, one thing I noticed – there were more pictures taken with phone cameras than with regular point and click cameras. Handy little things those phones are…
This is what it is like to be a VIP fpr an evening. How much closer can you get to the stage and I’m one of the last guys in the crowd. There is no “nose bleed” section at aloft tonight.
OK, I got food from at least 800 different servers (OK, it seemed like there was 800 servers tempting me at every moment). For most of those I asked questions to while they had food in their mouth, it seemed the miniature “sliders” were the crowd favorite. And in true fashion, all desserts were favorites.
Now, SPG Vice President, Chris Holdren got onstage to do the honors with the lovely Michelle Williams to make at least 3 members happier than the others – remember, we’re all happy at this point. So, with the help of the musical talent for the evening, the obiglatory fish bowl was brought out and three big prizes were awarded:
- 50,000 SPG points (OK, quick, how many nights is that at a Category 4 hotel? How many at a Category six if you are using cash and points?)
- A 42 inch Samsung flat screen TV (waht better to watch SPG TV on, huh?)
and finally the grand prize of 6 nights at the new aloft hotel in Beijing, China plus two either business class or first class tickets there (sorry, the crowd was getting pretty loud at this point, but nonetheless, the winner wasn’t going to China in coach.)
Here’s the stars of the fish bowl and the winner of the China draw:
As noted before, this crowd was among SPG’s best and most loyal members. They came from all over the U.S. and from many walks of employment. One I met was in the film industry, doing something for a Russian film crew, another was a high end technology executive, another in real estate. No pattern other than they were fast on the click to enroll in this event.
Here’s this crowd enjoying a great evening:
For many members in the audience, it was a prime event, a chance to mingle with the marketing executives of SPG and the same for the new aloft brand. As well, for many of the same members, a chance to experience up-close-and-personal a major musical talent in one of the members of the popular Destiny’s Child pop girl group (Four number one singles). While group member Beyoncé Knowles may be better known at this time, Michelle Williams is likely to make her own solo fame and the evening was a listen to some of the new singles from her upcoming album titled Destinations.
So, if your interest is music, here’s a short clip of what the evening looked like.
Sing The Music
OK, if this is the mini-me of W Hotels (my words only!), then it makes sense that the center of libations is another mini-me of W Hotels and if you’ve stayed at one, you no doubt become familiar with the term WXYZ. This is where you’ll end up sampling any of their nine signature drinks including a very tempting infused vodka collection. Now, because of my high journalism standards, I actually did not sample the wares but instead relied on an ever forthcoming group of SPG members who volunteered that the signature drinks are very, very good. Now, it may be that the price was right for the evening, but likely they were a selection to make most if not everyone happy. Sorry, as I said, no alcohol for me this evening so i really can’t offer you any temptation of taste. But I can offer you a look at the bar and the infused vodka for you that really, really can’t wait.