At Virgin Hotels in Chicago, Dallas, and Nashville, and early next year in Las Vegas, the company’s app was made more robust this year to control room lighting, temperature, and television. Room configurations separate the back bedroom from the dressing room near the hallway with a barn door that guests can stay behind so staff can make deliveries without contact.
“We’re not going to get you to sign the room service check,” said Raul Leal, managing director of Virgin Hotels. “It’s an archaic accounting tool.”
Pop-up restaurants and robot servers
Not every hotel can dine al fresco all year round. Neither can their restaurants thrive with the capacity constraints imposed by social distancing requirements. The solution: turn the entire hotel into a dining area. And throw in robot servers.
“This is meant to be an answer on how to deconstruct the dining experience so you don’t have to eat in a small place,” said Ron Swidler, chief innovation officer at The Gettys Group, a Chicago-based hotel designer. Development and consulting company. The Gettys Group recently teamed up with a consortium of 325 industry experts from Hilton, Marriott and Cornell University to develop the Hotel of Tomorrow project and collaborate on future hotel innovations. (The company has a track record of working with the workshop. In the early 2000s, the idea of a robotic butler emerged, later developed as a botler by the hotel brand Aloft.)
The think tank envisioned delivery units of various sizes that could keep food hot and drinks cold and provide videos or music for entertainment.
“Maybe these robots have personalities and hang out with you,” added Swidler.
Even without party-goers, existing hotels have a great incentive to use their no longer used conference rooms, ballrooms and even event lawns.
“We think the entire dining experience could change,” said Mr. Ito von Gensler. “You can create spaces around the hotel that don’t necessarily exist in the restaurant, but become pop-up areas for private meals. It’s about personalization and creating a unique experience. “