aloft Hotels Boldly Goes Where No Other Hotel Company Has Gone Before... - October 12, 2006
With an Exclusive Launch Party and Special Appearance by Epic Recording Artist, Ben Folds

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Oct. 12, 2006--aloha! aloft, A Vision Of W Hotels(SM), is proud to announce the grand opening of an aloft hotel in Second Life, making aloft the world's first hotel brand to place a 3-D computer generated property inside a virtual world. Born out of W Hotels, the original "wired" brand, aloft follows W's lead in hosting "insider" events for its customers... aloft is celebrating this groundbreaking event with an exclusive virtual launch party in Second Life on October 19th, from 7-9PM EDT, featuring special guest Ben Folds.

Ben Folds will appear live at the virtual aloft and will give partygoers a chance to be the first to hear new tracks off of his upcoming Epic Records release, supersunnyspeedgraphic, the lp, due in stores October 24th. The album is a comprehensive collection of original songs culled from his successful series of EP releases, b-sides, covers and film soundtrack appearances. Boasting remastering and tweaking that was completed at Ben's own studio in Nashville, TN, the 12 tracks on supersunnyspeedgraphic, the lp include covers of "In Between Days" (The Cure), "Get Your Hands Off Of My Woman" (The Darkness) featuring Corn Mo's guest vocals, plus a song from The Bens (Ben Folds, Ben Lee and Ben Kweller), and another from Over the Hedge Soundtrack.

The party doesn't stop there... after the launch event, revelers can continue to the launch of Sony BMG's amazing new city space on Media Island, an Electric Sheep Company property - featuring music, videos, clubs, a stadium, and much more - where Ben Folds will hang out and party-on with an extended live in-world chat. Fans can get more information on Ben at

Guests at the aloft launch party will be among the first to preview the virtual aloft hotel. Many have followed the development and building progress via the weblog - they'll now be able to experience aloft firsthand by exploring some of the aloft signature offerings, like the splash pool, re:lax lobby and bar w xyz. To attend this exclusive launch, send an e-mail to to request a VIP invitation. Guests can visit for more information on how to create an avatar for the event.

"The Second Life community has been influential to our development process, so we wanted to do something special for our opening event," said Ross Klein, President of W Hotels. "Like W Hotels, aloft is all about creating unique experiences, so we're really excited to have Ben Folds on board. Ben's a talented singer-songwriter known for his ability to really engage his audience, and his performance at our opening party gives him the opportunity to connect with his fans in a truly unique environment."

Created in 2003 by San-Francisco based Linden Lab, Second Life is a virtual online world where trendsetters are flocking to exchange ideas, egos and virtual property using "avatars," or highly-customized 3D representations of themselves. The Second Life environment enables players to create digital alter egos and exchange virtual currency for digitally rendered goods and services, and draws over 700,000 users worldwide.

In addition to the aloft debut inside Second Life, the new brand's technology focus includes large, HDTV ready flat-panel televisions, plug & play (the aloft brand's one stop connectivity solution incorporating power and audio/video connections for multiple electronic gadgets), and wireless internet access throughout the hotel. For more information on aloft hotels, please visit

About aloft Hotels

Carrying the DNA of W Hotels, aloft hotels, Starwood's much-anticipated new lifestyle brand, delivers stylish design, accessible technology and a hip urban attitude to an otherwise outdated hotel segment. Starwood anticipates the first aloft hotels to open in early 2008, with 500 properties worldwide expected by 2012.

About Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc.

Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. is one of the leading hotel and leisure companies in the world with approximately 850 properties in more than 95 countries and 145,000 employees at its owned and managed properties. Starwood(R) Hotels is a fully integrated owner, operator and franchisor of hotels and resorts with the following internationally renowned brands: St. Regis(R), The Luxury Collection(R), Sheraton(R), Westin(R), Four Points(R) by Sheraton, W(R), Le Meridien and the recently announced Aloft(SM) and Element(SM )Hotels. Starwood Hotels also own Starwood Vacation Ownership, Inc., one of the premier developers and operators of high quality vacation interval ownership resorts. For more information, please visit

(Note: This press release contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of federal securities regulations. Forward-looking statements are not guarantees of future performance or events and involve risks and uncertainties and other factors that may cause actual results or events to differ materially from those anticipated at the time the forward-looking statements are made. These risks and uncertainties are presented in detail in our filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Although we believe the expectations reflected in such forward-looking statements are based upon reasonable assumptions, we can give no assurance that our expectations will be attained or that results and events will not materially differ. We undertake no obligation to publicly update or revise any forward-looking statement, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.)

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