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NEW YORK CITY- The scaffolding is still up and plywood covers most of the ground floor, but Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc. says it will put its long-awaited W New York-Times Square through its paces with a “soft” opening just in time for New Year’s Eve. The property’s retail shop, bar and restaurant all will be open to guests on the last weekend of the year.

Located in the heart of the Theater District at 47th Street and Broadway, the upscale Starwood property is selling two-night-minimum packages starting Dec. 27 through Dec 30. for $399. New Year’s Eve packages go for $499.

“This is the first time the doors will be open to the public,” a Starwood representative tells GlobeSt.com. Preview guests at the 52-story hotel will also have the opportunity to shop at the first W retail store, opening in the hotel Dec. 28. Grand opening ceremonies have not yet been set but are expected to occur in late February, according to Starwood officials.

Starwood is bringing its ultra-hip W brand into Manhattan with a 509-room, 43-suite hotel. Designed by Toronto-based Yabu Pushelberg, W Times Square features a glass-encased waterfall in the lobby, guest rooms with high-speed Internet access via infrared keyboards, secure e-mail, VHS and DVD players.

A 6,000-sf bar subterranean bar The Whiskey, will be open evenings. Blue Fin, a seafood restaurant, will seat 350 on two levels and will feature live jazz.

Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc. owns and operates 750 properties in more than 80 countries. In addition to the W brands, the Starwood umbrella includes the St. Regis, Luxury Collection, Westin, Four Points by Sheraton and Starwood Vacation Ownership Inc.

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