ALOFT Kuala Lumpur Sentral, the biggest hotel in the Aloft chain of hotels, is looking to bring back the bang in the four-star hotel segment here with its niche concept that caters to the next generation of travellers.
Aloft is managed by American-based hotel and leisure company Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide.
The group also manages brands such as Westin, Sheraton and St Regis.
Starwood senior vice-president (specialty select brands) Brian McGuinness explained that the dynamic blend of decor, music, design and technology at Aloft reflected a young and approachable brand which would do well to capture its target market.
“The four-star segment did not always have the luxury amenities and designer fixtures. After awhile, there was no clear concept as to what makes a four-star hotel. But we want to bring back the energy into the four-star segment. We want to shake up the four-star segment,” said McGuinness.
He noted that some of its distinct features that appeal to the Gen Y travellers are the vibrant atmosphere and designs apparent in its lobby and video wall, free high-speed wireless Internet access throughout the hotel as well as its non-conventional way of naming basic amenities.
For example, the swimming pool is referred to as “splash”.
Despite being an upscale brand, McGuinness said luxury at Aloft comes affordably, adding that luxury differed from one traveller to another.
“Luxury may mean expensive things and exclusive services in the very high-end hotels but for someone who is always on-the-go, luxury may mean being able to get a quick bite at any time or being connected all the time. Our luxury caters to this other group of travellers,” McGuinness said.
The hotel has 482 rooms and is located within the vicinity of other well-known hotels including Hilton Kuala Lumpur, Le Meridien and Best Western Premier.
Nonetheless, regional vice-president for South-east Asia Chuck Abbott is confident that Aloft would be able to carve a niche for itself amid competition in the KL Sentral area as the brand offers a unique concept.
“Competition is always keen in every market.
“We believe being here will complement the area rather than just offer another traditional hotel. Although there is a high concentration of high-end hotels here, there are also a lot of people bringing their businesses here, and there are various hotels with different price ranges and lifestyle offerings,” Abbott said.
Aloft opened its doors in KL Sentral in March this year but Abbott noted that the hotel had already received a fair bit of enquiries to expand to other locations.
“They come to us because we are seen as a changer in the hospitality sector and we want to be a successful brand here,” he said.
Starwood is eyeing Penang, Johor and the suburbs of Kuala Lumpur as potential locations for more hotels.
McGuinness noted that Malaysia was a growing market and was increasingly viewed as a new lifestyle destination, making it an ideal location to expand Aloft in Asia-Pacific.
Currently, there are 12 Aloft hotels in four Asia-Pacific countries, including Thailand, China and India.
Senior director of brand management (Asia-Pacific) Vincent Ong added that there were another 16 hotels under development within the region for completion over the next two to three years.
According to Ong, the group was exploring new markets in Asia-Pacific and expects to double its footprint in “a short time.”
“The four-star market is somewhat differentiated.
“The segment tries to be something to everybody so the four-star segment is made up of all sorts. Hotels vary by price range. But at Aloft, we are differentiated by the lifestyle we embody,” said Ong.