Downtown Pensacola will see two new hotels open by 2018, with Starwood Hotels set to bring their Aloft and Element by Westin imprints to the city.
Records obtained by The Pulse list the address for both new hotels as 8 North 9th Avenue, the site of two parcels totaling nearly five acres adjacent to Gulf Power’s corporate headquarters and near the Pensacola Bay Center. The long-vacant parcels were purchased for $3 million last year by Sai Laxmi Pensacola, LLC, controlled by Pensacola hotelier Mitesh Patel. Both parcels were previously owned by the Moulton family since 2006, but were foreclosed in 2015.
Both hotels are scheduled to open in June 2018, according to Starwood Worldwide.
The Aloft and Element brands are both owned by Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, which was acquired last year by Marriott International in a deal that made Marriott the world’s largest hotel company.
The Aloft brand is targeted at “the next generation of travelers,” featuring what company officials call “urban, modern design and a hip social experience.” Often located in city centers, near airports, or in other high-visibility areas, Aloft’s economical design and minimal staffing level have proven popular with developers and hoteliers, with 114 hotels now open worldwide and another 150 in the pipeline. The nearest Aloft hotels to Pensacola are located in Tallahassee and New Orleans.
The Element by Westin brand is Starwood’s first collection of hotels designed to be environmentally-friendly. According to the company, Element hotels are built eco-friendly from the ground up, including floors made of recycled materials as well as energy-efficient lighting and plumbing fixtures. With 22 current locations, the Element has another 65 hotels planned. The Pensacola hotel will be the first Element on the Gulf Coast, with the nearest location in Houston.
According to Starwood, the brands are competing for the modern traveler who has “a millennial mindset.”
Pensacola follows a national trend of increased hotel building, particularly in urban cores. Construction on the first new hotel in decades in the downtown core began last year with the development of a new six-story Holiday Inn Express & Suites on East Main Street. That hotel is scheduled for completion in the spring.
Neither Starwood nor the project developer immediately responded to requests for comment. This story will be updated as new information becomes available.