WESTIN: SO REFRESHING!

First, Westin rolled out the Heavenly Bed. Then the Starwood luxury brand unveiled the Heavenly Bath. In 2006, it became the first flag to go smoke-free. Now it's time for the Westin Renewal Council, a panel of six lifestyle experts Westin developed with Los Angeles-based Creative Artists Agency. The panel is available at www.findrenewal.com, a new website, and starting in January, its experts will address Westin guests on a special, in-house television channel.

Here are the panelists and their specialties:

David Kirsch, fitness; Akasha Richmond, nutrition; Dale V. Atkins, psychology; Jane Buckingham, trends; Vern Yip, style/design; and Donna Smallin, productivity.

“We've been working at this for a year and a half as a way to distinguish ourselves from the competition,” says Sue Brush, Westin's senior vice president. “This is not product-driven, but it will leverage the product line.”

Creation of the renewal council, which aims to further Westin's goal of having guests leave a Westin feeling better than when they arrived, developed from research Westin conducted at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN. Westin learned from that research that 50 percent of travelers don't feel well when they step off an airplane, 52 percent say they're lonely, and 57 percent say they want to meet new people on their travels.

Because the concept underlying Westin's branding is personal renewal, formation of the council made sense, says Brush. Go to the site and you'll find tips, advice and recipes, organized under categories such as “unwind,” “energize” and “create.” As befits a high-tech brand, they're available by e-mail and RSS feed and can be delivered directly to users' desktops or blogs.

“There's always a business case behind everything we do,” says Brush, noting that Westin is going gangbusters, with 27 new properties opening this year and 18 scheduled to open in 2008. “Ours is around the concept of personal renewal.”

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