Starwood builds alternate-reality hotel
Starwood Hotels is launching its Aloft chain virtually, in the online realm of Second Life, two years before the real thing opens in the U.S. Sara Van Gorden, writing on the blog that details the project's progress, explains: "Where this differs from more traditional modeling programs is the fact that SL also functions as a societal engine as well. Users can interact in real time, exploring the vast virtual world together, collaborate on building, customizing their avatars (their in-world representation), or just hanging out. This adds a huge level of depth to the creation experience that you can't get from a CAD program."
As seen on MSNBC.com
Restaurants market the Buddha belly
The Zen lifestyle doesn't tend to be one of indulgence; it's not particularly known for cocktail-swilling, meat-eating, late-night-partying, fashion-wary devotees. Yet Buddhism as marketing theme continues to grow. In Newsweek's joint column with Beliefnet.com, Alana B. Elias Kornfeld and Valerie Reiss note that after all the yoga and om-inspired T-shirts, Buddhism is moving into the eatery world, giving birth to restaurants all over the U.S. and even a new Ben & Jerry's flavor: Jolly Lama. What's the attraction? Said Stephen Starr, owner of Buddakan, "I was looking for an image that felt good and safe."