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Hotel chain Aloft to open its doors in virtual reality

LONDON - Upmarket hotel W is to debut the first of a spin-off chain of hotels in the virtual reality internet game 'Second Life'.

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The virtual reality version of an Aloft hotel is to feature in the popular multiplayer online game for the PC's and Macintosh computers, where users can adopt an alternative digital personality and meet more than 350,000 other players worldwide.

The hotel chain, which does not open its doors until 2008, said 'Second Life' players would be able to enter a virtual Aloft hotel and meet other guests, or take a look around its landscaped gardens.

'Second Life', described by some as more of a "public park" than a game is also hosting a weblog which will be updated every week by the game developers who are building the 3D model.

Brian McGuinness, vice-president of Aloft brand development, said: "Our debut within 'Second Life' will give digital travellers a chance to dream in another dimension, and unwind their virtual selves in our social spaces.

"They will be able to provide feedback on our designs and self-service features like the re:fuel grab & go gourmet food area."

'Second Life' has become extremely popular amongst computer game enthusiasts in the US and around the world, prompting clothing chain American Apparel to open a virtual reality store that can be accessed in the game.

Aloft, which is part of the Starwood Hotels group that also owns W Hotels and the Sheraton, said it hoped that previewing an Aloft hotel in 'Second Life' would make visitors feel at home once the real thing opens in two years.

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