AV: Starwood Hotels, part of the W hotel empire, is slated to open the first virtual hotel within the Second Life world. They've been maintaining a blog about the experience from a developers standpoint...not necessarily the most riveting material, but, a novel idea either way. And being someone who knows virtually (bad pun intended) nothing about land development or software/virtual world development, I found it to be an interesting blog to browse now and then...
Preparing for Resident Activities
"One aspect of preparing a project for Second Life that we (ESC) try very hard to stress to our clients is the importance of planning past the grand opening festivities. What will keep people coming back to your island? This isn't a problem unique to real-life business builds in SL - maintaining a steady flow of visitors to your land, club or business is something that all residents tackle in their own ways."
"Shopping, games, and social activities are the biggest draws that keep people returning. The virtual aloft project team has a few fantastic ideas on the burner to that end, and one specific build on the island we hope to utilize repeatedly in the future is the outdoor stage."
A Virtual Photo Shoot
"I recently wrote about how the parallels between the virtual world and real world are often colliding on this project, to an extent that it becomes a bit strange and bizarre to experience."
Last night was another one of those experiences.
"Earlier in the week, we received a call from a terrific magazine who are currently putting together a story about the aloft project. While discussing what photographs would be available to run with the story, the decision was made that we would do a photo shoot for the magazine that would bring together all of the people involved in the project. Except rather than take the photograph at the real Starwood offices in White Plains, we decided to do it inside of Second Life at the virtual hotel."
"So at around 10pm last night all of the avatars representing the various teams from Starwood, ElectricArtists, and Electric Sheep congregated in front of the hotel for the photo shoot. Like in the real world, the sun was setting as we talked about the shot and thus we had to move quickly to get everyone in place before we lost our light. Also like in the real world, we even had people there to help with clothes and hair. For the photo, the photographer had us all look in the same direction at a red box in the sky. The whole experience was extremely bizarre and after a few minutes you forgot that you were on the computer and instead began to feel as if you were actually there watching a beautiful sun set as the photographer gave directions on where to stand and where to look."
Podcasting on aloft and Second Life
"BusinessWeek Online posted a 12-minute podcast I did with their correspondant Reena Jana. We discussed the challenges of bringing real world structures into a virtual world, both conceptually and technically; the benefits of Second Life for creating an iterative conversation with customers on issues like design; the appropriateness of certain products versus brands within virtual worlds; the hype versus promise of the Second Life platform; and the power of relationship building within virtual worlds."
I hope you find it interesting."
How To Teleport to the Island of aloft
"As we continue to build the aloft hotel inside of Second Life, we've started showing people what the actual island of aloft looks like."
"If you're currently a resident of Second Life, you can teleport to a neighboring sim called Argali. There you can peer in from the Argali border. You will need to raise your draw distances to see it. Draw distance (in the preferences, graphics tab) determines how far out objects "rez" i.e. show themselves. If you set your draw distance to 256 meters you should be able to get a good look at the hotel."
About the aloft hotels experience:
"aloft is a reinvention of the travel experience, an oasis where least expected – a spirited neighborhood outpost where uncomfortable cookie-cutter mediocrity is the norm and innovation a long forgotten luxury...until now."
"Bringing a cozy harmony of modern elements to an otherwise stale travel landscape, aloft offers more than just a place to sleep. It’s a unique social environment to relax and meet others…a place to unwind after a long day at work or on the road. Designed with natural materials and textures like cork and wood, with loft-inspired, 9 foot high guest rooms, state-of-the-art technology, modern amenities, and signature “r & r” beds, aloft is a sassy, refreshing, ultra-effortless alternative to the same-old, same-old, polyester and concrete hotel. It’s fresh, fun, and fulfilling…a place to be discovered and rediscovered…destination after destination."Click here to go to the aloft hotels website