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NEW YORK CITY-Two design firms known for high-end apartment projects, Yoo and CetraRuddy, announced Thursday that they’re launching hospitality groups. The decision by Yoo to focus on the hotel and resort market came after winning an architectural competition to design a 110-room boutique resort hotel in Split, Croatia, an emerging vacation destination on the southern coast of the Adriatic Sea.

“It’s very similar in a way to the residential work that we’ve done,” John Hitchox, cofounder and chairman of Yoo, tells GlobeSt.com. “A hotel is frequently seen as extension of the home, in the sense that it is where one sleeps and rests.”

The Split project is expected to launch in 2011 on behalf of luxury-brand specialist the Spectator Group, according to a release. However, while it served as the catalyst for the new hotel group, it’s not the first hospitality venture from Yoo, a design-oriented property development company headquartered in New York and London and founded in 1999 by Hitchox and designer Philippe Starck.

The JIA Hotel in Hong Kong, designed by Yoo, was voted “best boutique hotel in China” by The Independent and made the Conde Nast “Hot List 2006″ for design, the release states. The Mondrian Hotel in the South Beach section of Miami is the work of Yoo’s newest design partner, Marcel Wanders.

Hitchox tells GlobeSt.com that Yoo’s designers–who also include Jade Jagger, daughter of Mick and designer of the Jade high-end apartment building at 16 W. 19th St.–will be called upon individually for hotel projects most suited to their styles. The projects will incorporate design elements familiar from Yoo residential work around the globe, he says. Currently, Yoo is involved in the development of more than 25,000 apartments valued at over $10 billion, the release states. They include the Moinian Group’s Dwell at 95 Wall St., the first high-end rental project Yoo has taken on.

CetraRuddy, based here, has formally established a hospitality group as a new division of the architectural and interior design firm. The division is currently designing a 300-key Starwood Aloft Hotel and Conference Center in Long Island City and CassaNY, a 50-story independent hotel under construction at 70 W. 45th St. in Manhattan, as well as the Choice Marina Resort in Cochin, India.

The hospitality group will be led by Dan Stewart, who has more than 25 years’ experience in the hotel sector. He has worked for Ian Schrager/Morgan’s Hotel Group, Fairmont Hotels and Resorts and the Plaza Hotel, as well as leading hospitality divisions of major architectural and interior design firms, according to a release. Among CetraRuddy’s recent residential projects in New York City are ground-up construction projects such as the 50-story One Madison Park and the Orion at 350 W. 42nd St.; and restoration, renovation and conversion projects including 141 Fifth Ave., Barbizon63, 995 Fifth Ave. and the O’Neill Building at 655 Fifth Ave.

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