Starwood Hotels launched its new Starlab “brand innovation studio” in New York’s buzzy Garment District in November, and today it’s unveiling the first Starlab branded video, created by NYC-based Plus agency.

The sleek $12 million studio is designed to bring together Starwood’s design and digital teams in an urban environment where some of the world’s best designers and digital creatives want to be.

While the two divisions have collaborated at Starwood HQ in Stamford, Connecticut for years, and still do, the growing size of the digital crew and the need to attract and retain top talent motivated the Starlab launch. Competition for cutting edge digital thinkers is fierce across all industries, and the bucolic shores at the gateway of New England are not necessarily their preferred job hunting grounds.

Promoted as an innovation incubator where high-tech meets high-touch, Starlab is also attractive for hotel owners and developers to swing by to scope out new guest technology, such as SPG Keyless and the Botir robot butlers at Aloft Hotels.

The studio has lots of tech decor bells and whistles, as expected, with smart mirrors and a “digital chandelier” cascading down the stairs that’s half art installation, half news ticker. In the gallery space next to the communal dining area, five digital feeds show Instagram photos being posted by guests around the globe.

There’s also three meeting rooms tricked out with the brand design standards for W Hotels, Starwood Luxury Collection, and Le Meridien Hotels, the latter of which is shown at the 42 second mark.

Along with the new video, Starwood is announcing the Starlab Tumblr page, featuring a wide range of content including a video of Starwood CMO Phil McAveety talking at last year’s Skift Forum.

This is actually where Starlab gets interesting from the consumer-facing side. The Tumblr is a fun platform for a peak behind the scenes, such as this video highlighting the creative process behind last year’s Le Meridien brand refresh.

With Starlab, Starwood Hotels has a new way of engaging consumers across various content channels. Hopefully someone in Stamford is green-lighting new ideas for two-way guest collaboration digital campaigns in the spirit of co-creation, above and beyond social media. That would be innovative.

Greg Oates covers hospitality and tourism development. Email him at

Tags: starwood
Photo Credit: A screen grab from the new video showing Starlab Library. Starwood Hotels