Regular readers of our blog will know we like to keep tabs on developments in the travel industry. Here’s three that intrigued us. They’re all to do with staying in hotels, although there are just as many exciting new developments taking place in transport as well. We’ll be reporting on those later in the year.
Part of the fun (or frustration) of staying in a hotel is working out where the light switches are and then turning on the right one. Hotels seems to delight in devising increasingly sophisticated lighting systems. Most recently, their preference is for key card operated systems – which is great for saving money but less great if you take the key card out before you want to leave the room.
Thankfully, none of our customers have yet made an insurance claim for falling over in their hotel room whilst wrestling with the lighting system and with voice-activated rooms now becoming a reality, they may never need to.
A US hotel chain, Aloft Hotels, has equipped its rooms in Boston and Santa Clara with an Aloft app, which, when used in conjunction with Siri, Apple’s “personal assistant”, means you can adjust the room temperature, lighting and music just by speaking.
On the face of it, this looks ideal, especially if you can just turn on the bathroom light and not every light in the room. We’re naturally nervous that the system can recognise your voice in all its forms, included the slurred version after a big night out, or the hoarse one, when you return from a concert or sporting event, or the whispered one when you don’t want to wake anyone else up.
Iris scanning replaces key cards
Key cards. You either love them (if you’re a hotel operator) or hate them (if you’re a hotel customer). Travel forums are full of stories of hotel guests having to make multiple return trips to the hotel reception to get the card activated, re-activated or replaced or eventually be escorted to their room by a hotel employee.
We know key cards provide higher levels of security than traditional keys, but could they be replaced by something even better? Well may be they can. At a boutique hotel in Barcelona, the Alma Barcelona, guests now use their fingerprints instead of keys to enter the room whilst at Boston’s Kimpton Nine Zero hotel, you need to undergo an iris scan before opening the door to its uber-luxe Cloud Suite.
What really made us sit up though was the idea of ‘edible resorts’. We read this as meaning you literally ate the hotel (think giant gingerbread rooms) but in fact “edible resorts” are where everything from salads to entrees is grown in the hotel grounds. Croatia’s Bellevue Hotel has herb gardens on its roof, while goats graze on the golf course of Kittitian Hills in St Kitts.
John Goldwyn, vice president of hotel design firm WATG, was quoted as saying “We are placing hotels within vineyards, under olive groves and above edible parterres,”. “Why have a fruit bowl when you can wander onto your balcony and pluck an orange from the tree?”. He has a point.