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The practice of using robots in hotels is rare but not new.
We came across a space-themed capsule hotel in China entirely staffed by robots. Way back in 2006, a Sheraton Hotel in Japan unleashed some robots to greet guests. The Hotel @ MIT has a robot on display and of course, we cannot forget about the Yotel luggage robot in Times Square. Yet while these were all innovative additions, with the exception of the Yobot, these hotel robots really didn't fulfill a service need for guests. Until now.
The NY Times reports that the Aloft Hotel in Cupertino, across from Apple's headquarters, will start using a Botlr Robot by Silicon Valley start-up Savioke on August 20. (Follow the adventure on social media with the hashtag #MeetBotlr.)
The Botlr's mission is simple. It "will shuttle items from the hotel lobby desk to guest rooms." So let's say you've just got settled into room and have changed into your pajamas when you realize that you've forgotten a toothbrush. Instead of going back downstairs or calling housekeeping and waiting forever to have a toothbrush delivered, the Botlr will bring it up to you. Here's how Botlr does what it does:
James Hotels / Hotel Books / Hotel Literary Programs / Joel Stein / Hotel Services / Hotel Amenities / Hotel Coctails / → All Tags
While most hotels are introducing new services to guests via in-room tablets, James Hotels are going a different route.
The boutique brand has partnered up with writer, author and humorist Joel Stein, who we first fell in love with during his stint on VH1's "I Love The 80s" show, to create a new literary program for guests.
Stein has chosen four paperback books for each James location--New York, Chicago, Miami and the upcoming Los Angeles hotel--which guests can read during their stay. The books will be available in the living libraries at each hotel but in New York and Miami, the books can be also uploaded to the eReaders and Kindles that are available (So, it's still a tech-forward program.)
But that's not all. Master mixologist Johnny Swet who does the libations at JIMMY in New York, has created cocktails that pair with each city's corresponding books and personalities. Hmm, we're seeing a pattern here--James, Joel, Johnny. Maybe with my name, I could get a job too?
Here's what on the James summer reading list, as selected by Stein and the corresponding cocktail as crafted by Swet:
· The Big Short by, Michael Lewis: “Sure, there’s advertising and media, but this is actually a one-industry town and that industry is money. Michael Lewis explains how our economy depends entirely on a bunch of traders who don’t entirely know what they’re doing and how they messed up in 2008.”
· A Visit from the Goon Squad, by Jennifer Egan: “Unfortunately, you have to finish the novel to feel all the disparate stories come together, but I hereby give you permission to steal it. I’m guessing I’m empowered to do that.” Heat by, Bill Buford: “Everyone in New York is a part-time restaurant critic. You’re going to spend a lot of time talking about where to eat and what you thought of where you ate. So you might as well read this and find out how hard it is to cook that meal.”
· From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by, E.L. Konigsburg: “Yes, it’s a kid’s book. But that’s exactly what you have time for in a hotel. And if you take the book’s advice and check out of this hotel, hide in the Met after it closes, sleep there and buy street food with the coins you find in the fountain, you’ll save your company a lot on your expense report.”
· New York Cocktail Pairing: Blood & Sand - a classic cocktail that blends Chivas Regal Scotch, Sweet Vermouth, Cherry Herring and Orange Juice.
It's not a rare 1961 Ferrari GT California but it is pretty sweet.
Thompson Chicago has revved up their offerings for hotel guests, thanks to a new partnership with Lexus.
Guests can ride around town in a sleek Lexus IS 350 convertible or a ginormous LX 570 LUV--luxury utility vehicle--without any mileage restrictions, i.e. no one telling you the ride is only good for a one-mile radius from the hotel. The rides are complimentary and feature a pre-programmed navigation system with addresses to Chicago landmarks and nearby road trip destinations outside of Illinois. But of course, you'll still rely on Google Maps anyways.
Guests can also choose to ride in the house car, which is an LS 460 L flagship sedan, driven by a personal chauffeur and equipped with complimentary bottled water, the Chicago Tribune newspaper and Wi-Fi mobile hotspot functionality.
Rates next weekend at Thompson start at $429 a night so having the use of a Lexus during your stay makes that a little more bearable. And if you already own a Lexus, you can book the Thompson Chicago through the Lexus Drivers Site and get a $100 hotel credit which can be used towards dining and drinks at the hotel's Salone Nico or Nico Osteria.
We're pretty jaded folk here at HotelChatter. There's not much that we haven't seen already when it comes to amenities and services. But lately, hotels have been killing it, rolling out novel or useful or just plain fun goodies that hotel guests of all tax brackets can enjoy. Naturally, we thought it was worth a round-up. Now presenting...
7 Cool New Things We've Seen at Hotels This Year (So Far)
We called this the "manliest bathroom amenity ever" when we spotted it at The Landing Hotel in South Lake Tahoe, because it ensures that men will always have the correct aim in the middle of the night.
High-paying guests at The Casa Madrona in Sausalito, Calif. can (and should) have their pricey picks of champagne delivered by state of the art, remote-controlled, octo-copter drones from the hotel's wine cellar to an outdoor deck of the hotel's exclusive Mansion suite.
We've seen USB ports near the bed or on the nightstand but never have we've seen them IN THE PHONE until we took a tour of the Delano Las Vegas, opening in September. Now you don't have to get out of bed to
drunk sext check your email.
Luxury Hotels / Hotel Services / Hotel Housekeeping / Cannes Hotels / InterContinental Hotels / Cannes Film Festival Hotels / → All Tags
We've longed loved the little touches at old world luxury hotels, from a zen turndown service to a careful room service presentation. Now the InterContinental Carlton Cannes has brought to our attention a service we thought didn't even exist anymore. They are calling it The Bookmark Fairy.
If a hotel housekeeper notices book or a magazine left open without a bookmark or with a dog-eared page, they will slip one of the hotel's signature bookmarks inside where the guest left off reading.
A hotel rep tells us it's a little-known but "incredibly well-received perk." And as the hotel readies for the Cannes Film Festival which kicks off tomorrow, we're sure the Bookmark Fairy will be making the rounds.
Rates at the InterContinental Carlton Cannes start at around 285 Euros, after the festival is over of course.
[Photo: InterContinental Carlton Cannes]
We're all guilty of it: rolling into our hotel room; throwing the suitcase on the floor and leaving it there, still packed, for the duration of our stay. Maybe if the hotel room closet had some features more enticing than a single bar and a couple of flimsy hangers, we'd be more compelled to put away our clothes nicely.
TownePlace Suites by Marriott have now partnered with The Container Store to install the store's famous elfa closet system into all newly built and renovated hotels. Guests will find multiple closet rods, ventilated drawers and shelves for shoes. The closet offers two levels of hanging space to accommodate everything from dresses to pants, and shelves and a gliding drawer for suitcases, briefcases, t-shirts, sweaters and other folded items.
It was only a matter of time before a luxury hotel picked up on the drone delivery trend.
The brand-new Casa Madrona in picturesque Saualito, Calif. (it just opened yesterday!) would have wowed guests with its intimate accommodations--ranging from deluxe guest rooms to junior suites and the 11-room Casa Madrona Mansion--but the hotel decided to go over-the-top with a distinctive service--drone deliveries of champagne. Ah, get it? Casa Ma-drone-a.
The drone delivery is available to guests who book the entire Mansion or the 5,000-sq.ft Alexandrite suite which costs $25,000 and $10,000 a night, respectively. Guests pick of pricey champagne will be drone delivered from the hotel by state of the art, remote-controlled, octo-copter drones to the two-tiered deck of the Mansion.
Hotel News / Hotel Services / Westin Hotels / Manhattan Hotels / Hotel Sleep / Hotel Sleep Aids / → All Tags
Hotel wake-up calls are fairly standard--the hotel calls you at your desired time and lets you know it's time to wake up. But some travel-weary guests could do with a Hotel Go-To-Bed call, which would remind them to get a good night's sleep, especially if they've requested an early wake-up call.
And now these early riser but late to bed folks have a hotel who's looking out for them. The Westin New York at Times Square just launched a new Rest Well Calls program to aid guests in getting a good night’s sleep.
After arranging a wake-up time, staff will also give guests a ring the night before, alerting them that it is time to go to their (Westin Heavenly) bed. The hotel will give guests an hour to power down their devices and will let them get a full seven to eight hours of sleep before calling with the wake-up call.
"“We have seen a trend in wake-up call requests coming in at times that make it impossible for guests to be getting the sleep that they really need,” said General Manager Sean Verney in a press release. “Our mission is to ensure that guests leave feeling better than when they arrived, and the new Rest Well Calls will help both leisure and business travelers to get the right amount of sleep.”
A stay at the newly renovated New York Palace is not too shabby in itself, but now travelers looking to add a touch of exclusivity to their stay need look no further than The Towers, a 176-room hotel within a hotel, with its own reception area and private elevators, located on the top 14 floors.
Towers rooms range from 465-square foot Towers Rooms; Specialty suites (including the stunning 5,000 square foot triplex Champagne Suite and the Jewel Suite by Martin Katz); Towers Executive Suites; One Bedroom Suites, to the over 1200-square-foot Towers Corner Suites that feature fully stocked cocktail bars, kitchens, dining room tables and chairs for six, large outdoor terraces, and the option to add a connecting room with two Queen beds.
As well as a post-renovation rejuvenated look and feel, rooms in The Towers feature touch-screen tablets that control all of the room’s high-tech features including automated lighting, roman shades and blackout privacy curtains. Towers guests also have privileged access to Rarities, an intimate, men's club-inspired 25-seat salon — accessible to the public by reservation only.
A stay in the Towers also gets you a dedicated Les Clefs d'Or concierge team, house car service in a Mercedes GL350 or Maybach and Maître d'Etage service. Additionally, business travelers who book a Towers Corner Suite are treated to the “You’ve Arrived” service, which includes complimentary arrival airport transfer from New York City’s major airports.
Midweek June rates for The Towers start at $655 for a Tower King.
[Photo: New York Palace]
Hotel WiFi / Annual WiFi Report / Australia Hotels / Hotel Services / Rydges Hotels / QT Hotels / Atura Hotels / Art Series Hotels / → All Tags
Some like it hot. But more people like it free. We're talking about WiFi here.
In the wake of all of our WiFi news from last week, we've got some great news from the land Down Under, where getting free WiFi or even cheap WiFi is never easy. In fact, it's almost impossible. But not anymore.
Starting this week, Amalgamated Holdings Limited will be offering guests at all their hotels complimentary WiFi to browse the web, check email and Instagram the cool rooms (or so the hotel group hopes.)
Take it from us, WiFi doesn't come cheap at hotels in Oz. We've been offered up some connectivity if we forked over anywhere from $15 to $29.90 per day. Yes, we said per day! Now, you see why this is such a big deal for an entire portfolio of over 40 hotels to ante up some WiFi as part of the nightly rate.
Let this be a little message to other hotels, just do it already! Offering this service can't be that hard, can it?
The flagship Hilton brand and its luxury properties (Conrad and Waldorf Astoria) still charge in the guestrooms as do Embassy Suites and DoubleTree by Hilton, while the "focused service" and extended-stay brands--Hampton Inn & Suites, Hilton Garden Inn, Homewood Suites and Home2 Suites-- typically have it for free. Hilton has also introduced a tiered WiFi structure for guests who need more than just basic internet.
But beyond the actual physical WiFi offerings, Hilton has also introduced a personal service--The StayConnected Program which includes a 24-hour dedicated call center to help guests with their WiFi issues while traveling.
The program also allows owners and operators access their bandwidth usage so they can better understand the needs of guests coming into their hotel. Which should be pretty simple--we all need fast, working WiFi. So give guests the best network that you can.
For more on who's still charging for WiFi and why, read our 2014 Annual Hotel WiFi Report.
Last month we looked at a range of niche hotel butlers, from fireside butlers to tanning butlers and even camping butlers. We've also documented some of the more unusual specialty concierges out there (Spice Concierge, anyone?)
Today, The Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas tells us of another hotel service we didn't know we needed--bikini concierge.
The Palms Pool & Dayclub has partnered up with Bikini.com for the weekly pool party, Ditch Fridays, which begins again on May 2. The bikini concierge will help gals shop for bikinis at the poolside pop-up shop which will be open on Friday and Saturday afternoons. The bikini concierge also promises to deliver bikinis to guests on property within 60 minutes.
Some of the styles on display in the shop include monokinis and two-piece styles from brands like Mikoh, Luli Fama, Bettinis, MinkPink and Solkissed. As you could probably already tell, this won't be the place to shop for modest aka Mom swimsuits. This is Vegas baby, Vegas. Let it all hang out.
Rooms at The Palms are going for $239 on May 2, but they are sold-out for Saturday, May 3. Rates drop back down to $129 on Sunday, May 4.
[Photo via Palms/Facebook]