'Avant-garde' W Mexico City opens

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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 [email protected].

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