The new Aloft hotel officially opens to the public today as a gleaming new boutique hotspot in the heart of the city.
The project is several years in the making, and represents a major adaptive reuse of the long-empty building that once held IBM mainframes and the Mercantile Bank operations among others.
A few “soft opening” events have given early peeks into the space. Unlike more formal or business-like hotels that favor beige walls and generic rooms, the Aloft is designed almost as a high-end urban cocktail lounge that happens to have 130 hotel rooms atop.
Even the pool deck is in the sleek motif, with an infinity edge pool that overlooks the soon-to-be-complete Riverwalk and the silvery turrets of the University of Tampa. For chilly nights, there’s a natural gas fire-pit and there are pod-like tables with shade umbrellas. The hotel is likely the only in Tampa to feature a billiard table in the lobby. The project sits at the corner of Kennedy Boulevard and Ashley Boulevard — potentially one of the highest traffic intersections in downtown.
Backers include the long-time partners of Liberty Group and Convergent Capital that have backed several other downtown projects, and once pursued the Channelside Bay Plaza area. This marks the third boutique hotel to open lately, the first being the Epicurean hotel in South Tampa, then the Le Meridien hotel built into the former federal courthouse building, and now the Aloft. The correct pronunciation is “Ah-LOFT,” as in to rise into the air, and there are a lot of them opening lately. The parent company, Starwood, is opening new Aloft locations across the globe in a drive to court the segment of affluent, younger, hip travelers.
Hotel room prices will vary depending on the season, but likely will range between $170 and $300 a night, squarely focusing on the urban traveler who wants to explore the city as much as the cocktail lounge.