'Avant-garde' W Mexico City opens By Jorge Sidron / November 14, 2003 Share 1 -- MEXICO CITY -- Guests started checking into the W Mexico City earlier this month, as the Starwood brand known for its over-the-top design made its debut in Latin America. Starwood calls its 237-room, 25-story hotel in Mexico City's swanky Polanco district its most "out of the box" W yet. And the hotel has the design elements to back that up.For starters, guests who are checking in must pass through a black, lava-stone tunnel that leads to the hotel's reception area."With W, we continue to experiment with design," said Barry Sternlicht, chairman of Starwood Hotels & Resorts. "This is certainly our most avant-garde hotel yet."Luring passersby into the hotel is an all-glass facade that provides a glimpse into the goings-on inside the property's restaurant, bar and lounges.Those who give in to their curiosity enter a lobby dotted with lounge areas, connected by walkways suspended above Japanese-style koi ponds.The seating areas -- furnished in white leather and yellow fabric chairs and sofas -- are laid out in a spiral formation, leading a path to the hotel's Solea restaurant and the Whiskey bar, the first that nightlife entrepreneur Rande Gerber has opened outside the U.S.W executives expect Whiskey to be a destination unto itself, much as it is in several of the chain's New York, Los Angeles and Chicago properties.Solea specializes in seafood with an Asian and Mexican influence. It features a bar and communal table near the entrance, banquet-style seating areas separated by red glass partitions, chocolate-colored walls and ebony-stained wood floors.Perhaps the boldest design statement is made in the rooms, which resemble no other W rooms anywhere. They feature walls and ceilings painted "cherry red," in contrast to all-white beds, terrazzo floors and built-in shelving.The hotel brand's signature beds are positioned in the middle of the rooms and are outfitted with pillow-top mattresses and goose-down comforters and pillows.In another departure from the norm, bathrooms are located at the far end of rooms -- away from entrances -- and have windows. Large "rain" showers with water jets feature woven hammocks.All rooms are equipped with standard W amenities, such as two telephones with voice mail, high-speed Internet access, CD players, 27-inch color TVs, coffeemakers with W's own blend of coffee and W bath products.The hotel offers nine "loft" suites with high ceilings, views of Chapultepec Park and amenities like flat-screen TVs mounted on the ceiling above the beds.So-called "Extreme Wow" suites feature terraces, large living rooms, kitchens, wet bars and two bedrooms.The hotel has a fitness center as well as a spa with five treatment rooms, a juice bar and what W calls a "modern interpretation" of the traditional Mexican adobe hut (temazcal) sauna.Business types will appreciate the hotel's full-service business center and 6,650 square feet of meetings space, including a ballroom and conference center.Introductory rates start at $179 on the weekend and $249 midweek, double.For information or reservations, call (888) 625-5144 or visit www.starwood.com.To contact reporter Jorge Sidron, send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.