Hotel rooms are all the same, right? You have a bed, a bathroom, a TV, and a room service menu that entices you to order a grilled cheese sandwich at midnight.
Yahoo Travel was recently invited to Starwood headquarters in Stamford, Connecticut, to check out some of the forward-thinking amenities they’re testing. And I must say, some of the things got me pretty excited.
Two Tvs. Zero arguments over what to watch. (Photo: Brittany Jones-Cooper)
We started in the Four Points concept room, where the first things I noticed were two large flat-screen TVs mounted to the wall. This is the Dual Stream TV system they are testing, and it would essentially eliminate fights over TV time. Each set is connected to a pair of wireless headphones, so couples can hang out together while watching different programs. No more fights over the remote.
Now you can check the time and weather while you’re getting ready. (Photo: Brittany Jones-Cooper)
But what really jumped out at me in the Four Points room was the smart mirror. This awesome feature would allow guests to check the weather and read headlines while they got ready in the mirror. A second iteration of this mirror would actually be a touchscreen and would allow guests to check their email and text messages on the reflective surface. How cool is that?!
Over in the lobby, we were introduced to an exercise bike they hope to put in the fitness center at Element hotels. Gone are the days of passively biking and staring off into space. This virtual reality bike would make guests feel like they are biking outside, in the fresh air, with beautiful scenery.
Starwood is also experimenting with the idea of creating illuminated floors in Element hotel rooms. Do you ever stumble to the bathroom in the middle of the night? Never again! The plan is to place little square stickers equipped with RFID (radio frequency ID) technology underneath the carpet squares. When a guest steps on the ground, the stickers would illuminate with a soft light and show a path to the restroom. The squares could also light the way from the elevator to your room. I imagine it would be similar to walking down a lighted path like Michael Jackson in the “Billie Jean” video. A girl can dream.
Botlr, the robot butler, will make deliveries to guest rooms. (Photo: Brittany Jones-Cooper)
Aloft hotels are known for having a youthful, energetic vibe, so it’s only appropriate that they are home to the Botlr. This robotic butler assists the front desk by delivering amenities like extra towels and toothbrushes to guests. Botlr was unveiled last fall and is currently being tested at Aloft hotels in Cupertino and Silicon Valley.
Aloft is also working on a fun feature that would appear in its ever-popular lobby spaces. The Virtual Reality Experience at W XYZ would allow guests to skydive or take in a concert, all without leaving the lobby. Beats reading a newspaper and people watching.
With this technology, guests will be able to attend a concert without leaving the lobby. (Photo: Brittany Jones-Cooper)
And last but not least, Starwood is working on something that could forever change the way you check into a hotel. SPG Keyless is the industry’s first truly mobile keyless check-in system. Users would download an app on their phone, and when they arrived in the city, the hotel would send them a welcome message with their room number. After that, there’s no need to check in at the front desk. Guests simply walk straight to their hotel room and enter by using their smartphone as a key. It’s like magic!
As mentioned, all of these cool features (with the exception of Botlr) are still being tested in Starwood’s concept rooms. However, Starwood has plans to unveil some of its new features by the end of 2015. Which means the future of hotels might be closer than you think.