Arriving at the opening day of the W New York-Downtown Hotel and Condominium sales office was a little disorienting. A polite doorman greeted you at the entrance–but, beyond the threshold, complete darkness. Then, as soon as the next automated door opened, you were in a different world. It was no longer a Wednesday morning in the financial district.
It was a Michael Shvo reality. And in Shvo’s reality it was time for a cocktail.
Three suited investors were offered martinis (at 11:00 a.m.!) before they walked through the sales presentation for real estate marketing firm Shvo’s latest project–the W New York-Downtown Hotel and Condominium, a plush Joseph Moinian development slated to open at 123 Washington Street in 2009 with 222 condos and 217 hotel rooms.
The entire sales office had a nightclub aesthetic with no natural light, a candlelit bar, and red rectangular couches off-setting the curving wall shapes–the signature look of Graft, the interior design firm for the project.
Mr. Shvo, 36, there to greet his real-estate investing friends, explained the aesthetic for the space. "The way that Shvo designs sales offices is in line with what the building will look like," he said. "We’re known for really creating sales experiences, not sales offices."
And what an experience it was. The tour consisted of an explanation of the W brand, the neighborhood surrounding the development, and the building itself, with each part incorporating a different technology.
As a video projected onto one of the curved walls highlighting the opportunities to "eat, drink, flirt, and play at the W restaurant," a laser on a globe with W’s demarcating the global presence of the brand indicated the area of the world being discussed.
As a sales representative said that the downtown area was "the next Madison Avenue," she tapped her foot on the floor to trigger a video image of lower Manhattan.
When discussing the various amenities available only to residents of the building–the bliss spa treatments, the rooftop bar, VIP access to the as-of-yet-unannounced club–another salesman stretched his arm out into the space in front of the projection and without touching anything manipulated the arrow on the screen through the different floor plans.
"It uses gesture tracking," Zoe Weisberg, director of public relations for Shvo, said. "It’s like Minority Report."
And while this state-of-the-art technology was certainly impressive, one couldn’t help but ask, what does this have to do with a hotel-condominium development?
Mr. Shvo said the use of technology is meant to give you an idea of what he calls the "all encompassing lifestyle brand" that W stands for. "W is a young brand," he said. "It’s an innovative brand." Mr. Shvo and the whole presentation stressed the sexy, youthful side of the W brand, one that indicates the target audience for this development. Mr. Shvo said most of the marketing was pointed toward single men.
"I’m your typical buyer here," Mr. Shvo said. "I work late hours and I want to know that I can get into a restaurant in my building without waiting in line. Living in a hotel is something that can’t be replaced with any condominium building, no matter how good it is."
Mr. Shvo told The Observer he bought two units in the building, one with a river view and another facing north to what will eventually be the Freedom Tower and the rest of Manhattan.