The W New York (First Ever W Hotel) Is Leaving The Brand

Filed Under: Hotels, Starwood Preferred Guest

It’s not uncommon to see hotels change their branding every so often for a variety of reasons. Typically it’s either because a hotel can’t conform to the standards of a brand anymore, or because a particular hotel’s branding isn’t meeting the revenue objectives for the hotel owners (n a vast majority of cases hotels are owned by investors, and the major global hotel brands just have management contracts for the hotels).

This particular situation is a pretty major development for a whole different reason. The first ever W Hotel was the W New York, located on Lexington Avenue, which opened in 1998. That was the hotel that started it all. Now that the hotel has been around for 20 years it’s generally not very well regarded, and it has the lowest guest rating scores of any Starwood hotel in New York City (it scores a 3.2 out of 5, which is quite low).

HotelBusiness reports that as of April 2018, the W New York will be rebranded, and will no longer be a W Hotel. This leaves the W brand in search of a new flagship property (though really this property was only ever “flagship” in the form of being the oldest property).

Here’s what Starwood’s brand leader for W had to say about this decision:

“It is a hotel that we have been super proud of, and it is really the hotel that started everything. It started what W is today with 53 hotels around the world and 40 more in the pipeline under construction. It changed the game in New York at its time, but the brand has evolved and as the brand has become more mature. We have been opening hotels all around the world—and now more recently back in the U.S.—that are increasingly purpose-built hotels with extraordinary architecture and a high level of design and quality, and a complex physical layout of bars, restaurants, nightlife and lifestyle spaces.

Basically, the architectural limitations of a building like that mean that it is practically impossible to renovate it to a level that would match the expectations of the brand that we are building today.”

It’s not yet known how the hotel will be rebranded (whether it still stay in the SPG/Marriott family, or become something else altogether). The hotel is known for having some of New York City’s smallest rooms, as their “Cozy Rooms” are just 150-170 square feet.

There are three other W Hotels in New York City, including the W Times SquareW Union Square, and W Downtown. Starwood is apparently now searching for a new flagship W Hotel in New York City, which they’re hoping to build from scratch so that it can meet their standards (which personally I don’t think are very high, as the W Times Square isn’t much to get excited about).

I’ve stayed at the two other Ws in New York City, though haven’t done this particular hotel, as I haven’t heard good things about it.

Have you stayed at the W New York on Lexington? What was your experience like?

(Tip of the hat to @HH_Cash)

  1. “There are two other W Hotels in New York City, including the W Times Square and W Union Square.”

    Three. You forgot the “Downtown” one by Wall Street, Lucky.

  2. Brands SPGarriott could reposition this property to:

    Tribute Portfolio
    Autograph Collection
    Four Points?

  3. “It changed the game in New York at its time, but the brand has evolved and as the brand has become more mature.”

    Starwood’s brand leader should have reread his/her writing. This sentence makes no sense.

  4. This is hilarious, I stayed here 3 weeks ago and my review was literally ” this property is an embarrassment to the W brand, and should be forced to renovate or rebrand,” to which management replied sorry we didn’t meet your expectations.

  5. I could easily see them rebranding this as a Delta, Le Meridien or Renaissance property. SPG/Marriott has so many brands now that surely one banner can accommodate it.

  6. I stayed here on my first ever visit to the US in February 1999 and it was a total revelation from the second we arrived. Walked past it in 2016 and realised that little had changed while the brand has been copied and bettered by so many others. So a sad day but makes sense.

  7. I stayed here last summer. All I can say is good riddance. The one downtown is much better and offers views of the WTC memorial if you’re lucky

  8. I’ve stayed in it, but that stay was 10 years ago. It was fine – nothing particularly wrong nor spectacular about that stay. We weren’t in a cozy room but we weren’t in a suite, either.

    A number of other early Ws are long gone – The Court and The Tuscany in NYC, Waikiki, New Orleans (the one on Poydras, now a Le Méridien, not the French Quarter W, which is still a W), Atlanta Perimeter – have all been rebranded or left Starwood completely at some point along the way. Given this hotel’s location, it wouldn’t surprise me if Marriott doesn’t renovate and rebrand as something else. They’ve certainly got a good portfolio of brands to pick from, many of which aren’t well represented in Manhattan.

  9. sincerely hoping that this means rooms will be refreshed, even if it stays in the Marriott/SPG portfolio. also hoping that the owners of the Marriott East Side and the Ren 57 (both near this W) are planning a refresh as well. rooms in all 3 hotels are TIRED. this is an area that attracts a lot of business travelers attending meetings in midtown-east and the Marriott/SPG offerings are terrible.

  10. I have worked in hospitality development. From my outsider view, these W’s seem to include a lot of finishes which are expensive to change up. Its why paint is better than wall cover a lot of times; and why you generally find places with a recent fresh coat of paint, but you see some really old and ugly wall cover in a hotel you would expect more of. Wall cover is expensive to change out. W’s have the equivalent of that wall cover all over them.

    And you can’t halfway do these W’s. What at the time was hip and cool finishes with a retro feel are now very dated. it is just physically a difficult look to maintain over time… as opposed to the “classic” look a Marriott or whatever may have.

  11. Legends evolve or die. Small rooms in NYC are not a show stopper. This was THE statement hotel in 1998.

  12. Good riddance. One of the worst experience ever, with a downgrade to a TWIN size bed room even as a Platinum member.

  13. Stayed there last week. Yes the property is not amazing. The biggest mattress size is a queen size. But the hotel is in a good location. And the gym is actually better than any other SPG property in the city. Oh and the rates are normally quite low. For the price and if you are someone who is on the road quite often you will appreciate a decent gym instead of a huge bling bling room which is what the W is. The lobby was recently renovated and it looks better than it used to be. I rather stay at this hotel then any other property on the Times Square area or down by the financial district. Yes I love the W financial district. But it is a trek to anywhere else in the city. People will hate for hating. But as someone who spends 150+ nights a year at Starwood I thought this property was actually an ok one. Yes, it’s not luxury. But it does the trick for me.

  14. I think W has wound up being a different brand than the one they’d initially envisioned. I’ve stayed at this property and it always felt pitched at the advertising account person who’s on a tight budget but wants to project cool. The other early W property that gave me the same vibe was Chicago Lakeshore, which was built as a Holiday Inn and then sunk as low as being a Days Inn before being turned into a W.

    W Chicago Lakeshore has better bones as a building, as well as an awesome location, in its favor.

  15. When it first opened i was a fan of the hotel (despite small rooms) and Bliss Spa. but over the years it really went downhill as more boutique properties and better options in NYC came about. my last visit involved a man screaming in the middle of the night about a mouse next door – woke me up (connecting room door) and he literally yelled at staff to move him and about the mouse. when i mentioned at check out – no one was surprised by mouse incident. last time i stayed there and last time i allowed my biz travelers to stay there – i moved them elsewhere.

  16. A lot of people were happy that the rewards category for this hotel dropped a level in the recent category change announcement and now we know why…it’s leaving SPG! Not a great SPG option in New York but it might have been a good redemption option at the lower category. This is now the third W in the city to leave after the Tuscany and the other property near the Tuscany (can’t remember the name) left a couple of years ago. I would agree it’s not a big loss but at a Cat. 5 it could have competed with the 4 Points and element for award redemptions. Let’s see if they stay in the Starwood/Marriott portfolio or if they will completely be removed. Let’s not forget we also lost the Parker Le Méridien recently so if they leave it’s another hotel less in the portfolio.

  17. This W is right across Lex Ave from another “first of its kind hotel”, the iconic Waldorf=Astoria, which is undergoing extensive renovations and has, at least for now, been taken over by the Chinese government after it indicted the CEO and seized the assets of Anbang, the global Chinese insurance company that failed in its bid to acquire Starwood, but succeeded three years ago in purchasing the W=A for a whopping $2B.

    I have not stayed at this W, but I quite frequently went to its spacious lobby bar that made it look ‘grand’ and its tiny street-level night club. I have not been there in at least 4 years, however.

  18. “and the major global hotel brands just have management contracts for the hotels”

    Actually, Hilton and Marriott only manage about 20% of their branded hotels. In the vast majority of cases, the hotel owner is just paying the Brandco a royalty fee for the brand (+ program fees) and that’s it. Third party managers such as Interstate Hotels manage most of them.

  19. Let’s face it. This is a huge problem with hip, boutique-type hotels. The reality is the design becomes tired and outdated very quick. Marriott has what 30-plus brands with its purchase of Starwood. I’m sure this soon-to-be former W hotel can find another brand, but it also highlights that Marriott has many, many properties that are old and outdated. Many of them are Sheratons and flagship Marriott properties. But there are also quite a few Ritz-Carlton hotels that are outdated, like the Ritz-Carlton Battery Park that is also leaving the Marriott family. They had ZERO outlets in the room, as if it was 2003 and nobody had any devices except one laptop at the desk.

  20. I think it has more to do with the sizes of the rooms than the finishes. If they want to take the W brand upmarket, you can’t have such tiny rooms.

  21. In renovating, the first thing they should do is to combine rooms so to have a fewer but normal sized room. They then should repaint all of the rooms and hallways to white to get rid of the browns. And 3rd, they should add brighter light bulbs in every light fixture.

  22. I am surprised that this hotel was not shuttered years ago. I stayed at this hotel in 2003 or 2004. I was quite excited about staying that this hyped-up W. My room was small, tattered, worn, dirty and just disgusting. I found this surprising as the hotel was supposedly actually “new”! The chair was torn, the walls were badly painted and just filthy, the bathroom fixtures/hinges/pipes/etc. were rusting, etc. Those were just a few details. I cannot remember all of them. I was just surprised that a W would be in such a horrible state. After my stay I wrote Starwood (or whoever was the owner back then) and explained how unhappy I was with my stay. The hotel manager refunded my stay and deposited some points into my Starwood account. I have NEVER returned to this hotel.

  23. I’ve stayed at the W New York several times over the years. Although I’ve sometimes read the horror stories, personally I always enjoyed my stays in every way. I’ve stayed in all the W properties in New York mentioned. My own personal rank (top to bottom): 1 – Union Square, 2 – Downtown, 3 – New York, 4 – Times Square (not a fan).

  24. I stayed there in January and was unimpressed. It wasn’t outright *bad*, but for the price they were asking I could have gotten something much more impressive. Everyone in the miles and points world always raves about Starwood and this hotel made me go “uh, why?”

    The hotel is clearly feeling its age: the tiles and plaster in the bathroom were old and chipping and yellowing, so that the hip look they were going for just looked, well, cheap. My room didn’t have an ironing board and I had to call down for it – it took at least 20 minutes, and I was almost late. There’s no coffee maker in the room unless you call down to request one, which, again, takes about 20 minutes. The sliding door to the bathroom came off the rails. The lobby was bleak and uninviting.

    None of those are as awful as some hotel experiences I’ve had but at that price point? Do better.

  25. I stayed there when it first opened i 1998, and, at the time, it was a nice, trendy, not just-business-oriented option in NYC. The rooms were small, but the bar was lively. Fortunately, hotels have come a long way since then. I’m sure it needs a lot these days. I wouldn’t stay there now.

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