Welcome to the Hotel Armani - such a lovely place

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In the past week alone, Giorgio Armani, Versace and Bottega Veneta have announced aggressive expansion plans in the hotel market, adding to a flock of fashion names dabbling in the business that already includes Missoni, Philip Treacy, Bulgari, Mulberry, John Rocha, Vera Wang, Lacroix, Ferragamo and even Camper shoes.

Armani, whose Burj Dubai Tower hotel is already under way, announced he is working on a second venture in Shanghai. A further 30 Armani hotels are scheduled to open worldwide in the next 15 years, a total investment of $3bn (£1.7bn). Versace, meanwhile, announced plans to add the Palazzo Versace Dubai to its existing resort on Australia's Gold Coast, with a third venture set for Asia. The label also announced a licensing deal to create the hottest new travel accessory: Versace-interior private jets.

Hotels serve as perfect outlets to exhibit other product ranges. In Vera Wang's Hawaii honeymoon suite at the Halekulani resort, for example, food is served on Vera Wang china, drink from Vera Wang crystal, beds sport linen from Vera Wang apparel and the bathroom is stocked with Vera Wang candles, soaps, lotions and perfumes. Naturally, a boutique also sells the products, along with Wang's resort wear range.

Given the capital investment required, fashion labels usually collaborate with the large hotel groups, to which they agree to lend their brand cachet. Missoni, which plans its first three hotels in Dubai, Kuwait and Edinburgh, is working with Rezidor SAS. The aim is to have a further 30 Missoni hotels in operation by 2010. Similarly, Bulgari's hotel is in collaboration with Marriott Ritz-Carlton.

"We are living in a brand culture," said Alistair Paton, head of M1NT private members' club, which is also due to open in Dubai, Hong Kong and Moscow. "The Intercontinental Hotel in Hong Kong just did a deal with Nobu that would be every restaurateur's dream, and it was done because the Nobu brand draws guests, much like the Armani and Missoni brands do."

The Radissons and the Hiltons of the world catered to the business traveller, who wanted their hotels to be the same wherever they were, said another commentator. "But nobody wants that any more ... Modern travellers need to know they're getting something special."

And if that demand can be met by flying them in a Versace-themed private jet to the 200-suite Dubai Versace resort, where they can swim at the temperature-controlled Versace beach in a Versace print bikini... there is a lot of money to be made.

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