W Hotels was launched in 1998 with W New York, a conversion of the former Doral Inn hotel on Lexington Avenue, Manhattan. It quickly became popular as a New York City nightclub. Identifying a gap in the market, Barry Sternlicht, CEO of Starwood Hotels 1995–2005, created the brand that popularized the lifestyle hotel concept of focusing on fashion and design. This included dark, muted colors, brushed metal, hotel staff in black T-shirts rather than white jackets, tasteful photographs, and a trendy bar. His demand for all-white bedding required manufacturers to develop white fabric that stayed clean without weekly dry cleaning.
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