By Kitty Bean Yancey, USA TODAY
In a warehouse in a Westchester County industrial park north of Manhattan, Starwood's Aloft hotel chain, due to premiere in May 2008, is preparing for takeoff.
Expect lobbies with high ceilings and exposed pipes, cool bars and Starbucks-style nooks for working on laptops.
With rates starting at about $125, the idea is to bring the style and personality of Starwood's W hotels to the value-minded masses. "We want our 'cool' to be universal and inclusive," says Aloft president Ross Klein, offering a first look at lobby and room prototypes.
The chain, due in 20 locations by the end of 2008, is just one of many new brands courting design- and budget-conscious travelers with lobbies as social hubs, Wi-Fi and flat-screen TVs, ergonomic desk chairs, grab-and-go meals and hip, contemporary rooms.
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