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  Starwood Hotels To Open ‘Second Life’ Accomodations  
Posted 2006-08-04 by Tony Walsh
Steve Rubel tipped me off to Starwood Hotels and its entry into the virtual world space. Starwood will open a hotel in the virtual world of Second Life this September--a preview of a real hotel project planned for launch in 2008. According to official blog, the Second Life project is being produced by The Electric Sheep Company. Builder and lead graphicist Sara Van Gorden (a.k.a. Cory Edo), and VP of biz dev Giff Constable (a.k.a. Forseti Svarog) of the Sheep are contributing writers to the blog, which stealthily launched July 24, 2006.

While the project bears the hallmark virtual-world-gold-rush stamp "Starwood Hotels will become the first company in history to open a new hotel brand inside of a virtual world," the effort has a slim chance of offering lasting value to Second Life's resident users. Since not everyone in Second Life can afford, or wants to buy virtual real estate, user-created apartment complexes and other rental accomodations are plentiful. These are usually maintained very carefully by resident landlords, so I wonder how, who, and even if Starwood's virtual "Aloft" hotel will be managed. Will Starwood's real-life quality of service really be carried through to Second Life? I don't see how. Doesn't a real, large-scale hotel have hundreds of employees? Even if Starwood intends to hire full-time virtual-world hotel employees, a single Second Life "simulator" (giant plot of land, such as the one the hotel is built on) can only host about 40 avatars reliably. That doesn't leave a lot of room for guests.
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