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MOUNT LAUREL, NJ-Starwood Hotels & Resorts has an ambitious plan to put 500 of its brand-new Aloft Hotel properties on the worldwide map over the next five years, and one of the first openings will come at this South Jersey, Metro Philadelphia community. The White Plains-based Starwood has signed a deal with Grande Properties LLC, a subsidiary of the locally based Delco Development, to build the 150-key hostelry on a site near the New Jersey Turnpike here.

The joint venture partners say they will break ground for the hotel later this year and deliver it to market in 2008 as one of the first of the new brand, which was introduced as a concept last year. Cost of the project has not been released. The Aloft Hotel brand will operate worldwide as a spinoff of Starwood’s W brand within the company’s luxury group.

“Aloft is infused with the DNA of W to create a new destination,” says Ross Klein, president of Starwood Luxury Brand Group and Aloft Hotels. “It was conceived in response to a mega-mundane marketplace. It brings style and atmosphere to a segment of the industry that has been anything but fashionable, offering guests a fun way to stay.”

“We’re excited about bringing this new concept of hotels to suburban South Jersey,” says John Moser, COO of Delco. “Starwood has created a lot of excitement with the W product, and we anticipate an even greater reaction with the Aloft brand.”

Starwood opted for the Mount Laurel location, near Exit 4 of the New Jersey Turnpike, because of its proximity to Philadelphia and its airport, convention center, the corporate community and other attractions, company officials say. Starwood officials also tout the site as, “just one hour from Newark International Airport.”

With a prototype designed by architect David Rockwell and the Rockwell Group, the Aloft brand will feature loft-like rooms with nine-foot ceiling and oversized windows, according to Klein. Each guest room will feature a high-tech office and entertainment center with wireless Internet access and plug and play, all linked to a large flat-panel HDTV-ready television. Lobby areas will be high-tech and communal, company officials say, and will feature a Bar W XYZ.

The new Aloft Hotel is Starwood’s second current project here. The company is currently building the Westin Mount Laurel, a 190-key property scheduled to open in June.

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