Steve Rubel jumped the gun on this news so I’ll feel free to blog it too: Starwood Hotels is building out a version of their new Aloft hotel brand in the virtual world of Second Life as a way to attract future customers and presumably get some feedback about the brand’s features before it hits the physical world. (It is not meant to be a functional hotel in SL, I’m told.) The SL project is being constructed by the Electric Sheep Company (sponsors of this blog), who are also blogging the process along with Aloft execs.
I like the idea of virtual hotel rooms being on view in SL. (How great would it be to be able to check out a bunch of rooms in your destination city before you booked a trip?) I’m more excited, though, about the fact that Aloft and the Sheep are blogging the process of building the project. This is something I wanted to do a while back at the Second Life Herald, but found it hard to find a builder who’d put up with being annoyed by my questions while building. The Sheep’s solution is great: get a talented builder who is also an articulate speaker and writer to do the job. Fortunately, they have SL resident Cory Edo (the real world’s Sara Van Gorden), who is both. The SecondCast crew interviewed Cory recently, which is how I know she’s articulate. Her builds speak for themselves.
Of course, for a more critical assessment of the final product itself, we’ll have to wait until the Aloft build is open to the public, but whether it’s a luxury virtual pied-a-terre or a virtual fleabag SRO in the end, I do think it’s extremely interesting and valuable to document the process of creation, and of translation from plans that would result in a physical building to those that result in a virtual model of much the same thing.