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
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.