Starwood to launch virtual room keys at US boutique hotels

Starwood Hotels & Resorts will soon launch virtual room keys at two US hotels under its Aloft boutique brand, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal.

From the end of quarter one, it expected that guests at Harlem Aloft Hotel in Manhattan, New York and Aloft Cupertino, California will be able to receive a message on a Starwood app containing a virtual key.

The virtual key will unlock the door with a tap or twist of the phone through the use of Bluetooth technology, according to the report.

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"We believe this will become the new standard for how people will want to enter a hotel," said Starwood CEO Frits van Paasschen. "It may be a novelty at first, but we think it will become table stakes for managing a hotel".

The US-based operator is said to have worked with Swedish lock maker Assa Abloy to develop the technology and hardware under an initiative dubbed ‘Project Sesame’.

The locks will be battery operated, and room keys will be compatible with iPhone 4 and newer models of the Apple devices as well as Android phones running 4.3 or later updates.

Van Paasschen said that owners had been “very enthusiastic” in their responses to the plans. He declined to reveal the cost of the upgrades but said that Starwood would make a “significant contribution”.

By the end of 2015, the Stamford, Conn., company is hoping to introduce the virtual key at all its luxury W Hotels and Aloft hotels, which today represents 123 properties.




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