Press Release 20 August 2020

Sanitiser sommeliers, virus-busting robots and socially distanced pandas play a key role in the post-pandemic hotel

Recognising the need to make potential guests feel safe to stay once again, hotels across the world are responding to COVID-19 with a number of creative new initiatives and future guests can look forward to everything from wine delivering robots to sanitiser sommeliers.

LONDON, UK – With the entire hotel industry striving to meet new health and safety standards, hotels around the world have introduced brand-new COVID-19 StaySafe measures and hospital-grade disinfectant, regular temperature checks and ubiquitous hand sanitising stations have all come to be expected. Many hotels, however, are taking it a step further and some are shaping the future of the post-pandemic hotel with the launch of new technological advancements and imaginative social distancing solutions.

Pepper the robot by SoftBank Robotics Pepper the robot has been greeting COVID-19 patients at a number of Tokyo hotels
Xenex LightStrike™ Germ-Zapping Robot™ in a hotel room at the Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills Xenex LightStrike™ Germ-Zapping Robot™ is the only UV room disinfection device that's been tested against the actual COVID-19 virus
Unibo robot concierge at Henn na Hotel Tokyo Akasaka Unibo robot concierges are on hand to help guests at Henn na Hotel Tokyo Akasaka

The robot revolution:

In recent years, robots have steadily grown in numbers within the hospitality industry, but the use of them has now moved from novelty to necessity and hotels are turning to their futuristic friends to assist with everything from checking in guests to delivering room service. In Tokyo, the government has even called on Pepper the robot, made by SoftBank Robotics, to welcome COVID-19 patients who are staying in hotels rather than taking up hospital beds.

Tech-driven hotel brand Yotel is a pioneer when it comes to robot butlers thanks to the world's first robotic luggage concierge and the first robots to be equipped with Simultaneous Localisation and Mapping (SLAM) technology, enabling them to autonomously navigate around the hotel delivering amenities directly to guest rooms. Henn na Hotels, meanwhile, was the first hotel brand in the world to staff a hotel entirely with robots, placing androids at the reception desk and Unibo robot concierges throughout the hotel.

In California's Wine Country, Hotel Trio deploys Rosé the robot – the hotel's 'social distancing ambassador' – to deliver rosé wine directly to guest rooms along with additional amenities such as extra towels, sheets and pet treats. The TownHouse Duomo Hotel in Milan also has a robot serving the drinks thanks to the Makr Shakr installation, the first robotic bar in Italy. Guests place their order via a mobile app and the two robotic arms then craft the drink within seconds, shaking, stirring and muddling in theatrical, dance-like movements.

Robots are also being utilised for decontaminating hospitals, medical centres and hotels, and Xenex LightStrike™ Germ-Zapping Robot™ have been designed to quickly destroy viruses, bacteria and fungi through the use of intense pulsed xenon ultraviolet (UV) light. The robot is the only UV room disinfection device that's been tested against the actual COVID-19 virus (SARS-CoV-2) and when tested it achieved a 99.99% level of disinfection in two minutes. The Westin Houston Medical Center – part of Marriott's Westin Hotels & Resorts collection – was the first hotel in the US to use the virus-busting robots and the Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills and The Beverly Hilton have since also introduced them to their cleaning practices.

Recognising the need to highlight new hotel cleaning practices such as this, HotelMap, a market leader in hotel booking for events, has just released the world's largest guide to new to COVID-19 hotel StaySafe™ procedures.

Robot butlers, bartenders and cleaners
Hotels around the world are utilising technology to help reduce human-to-human interaction, and robots are now being used for everything from checking in guests to delivering room service.

The rise of elevator technology:

Kimpton Arras in Asheville, North Carolina has come up with a simple but effective technical response to COVID-19, re-programming the elevators as an express service that transports guests directly to their floor without stopping to pick up fellow passengers. Companies such as Otis and Schindler are also helping to make elevators COVID-safe with the development of new purifying and ultra-violet cleaning systems as well as several touchless technology solutions.

The New York Marriott Marquis in Times Square – home to one of the world's most striking elevator structures – relies on Schindler's tech-driven systems to efficiently transport thousands of guests via its circular bank of 16 elevators. Hotel guests enter their floor destination on a keypad in the lobby and they are then directed to the appropriate elevator, which will transport them to their floor while making minimal stops along the way.

A more dramatic change to the modern elevator system has been predicted by UK architecture studio The Manser Practice. When envisioning what the post-pandemic hotel could look like, the company imagines the return of paternoster elevators – the quirky, single-occupancy system that was widely used during the first half of the 20th century – as a practical, safe and efficient but also visually impressive addition to hotels.

A woman dining using Christophe Gernigon's PLEX'EAT system French designer Christophe Gernigon launched PLEX'EAT has an elegant alternative to protective plexiglass shields
Table and chairs in the countryside at Four Seasons Hampshire The 500-acre countryside estate at Four Seasons Hampshire allows for extreme socially distanced dining
Waiters at The Anti-Social Club St Moritz Hotel Cornwall St Moritz Hotel & Spa in Cornwall has opened the UK's first purpose-built socially distanced restaurant

The launch of dining at a distance:

To help with social distancing, some hotels are relying on more than basic signage and are instead filling empty seats with playful new additions. The Inn at Little Washington has seated smartly dressed mannequins at every other table of its three-Michelin-starred restaurant and servers have been instructed to pour the mannequins wine and make polite conversation. The property is also using custom-made masks featuring the smiles of Marilyn Monroe and George Washington. At Ramada by Wyndham Singapore at Zhongshan Park, the public spaces have been filled with cuddly pandas holding friendly social distancing reminders.

St Moritz Hotel & Spa in Cornwall has addressed the need for socially distanced dining with the launch of The Anti-Social Club. The UK's first purpose-designed and built socially distanced summer restaurant, the club is made up of 16 private dining rooms with capacities of two to eight people. The club promises to deliver elements of exclusive members clubs, private dining rooms, cool beach clubs and summer pop-up restaurants. The hotel's colourful sea-facing beach huts are also being used for socially distanced dining with a special Breakfast at the Beach Huts experience that's available to guests staying in the King rooms.

At the Four Seasons Hotel Hampshire, a 500-acre countryside estate allows for extreme socially distanced dining. Guests can book a romantic meal for two with a formal dinner set-up and fire pit in the midst of the countryside or a family-style BBQ complete with lawn games. For hotels and restaurants that don't have the luxury of so much space, French designer Christophe Gernigon has launched PLEX'EAT. The new innovation presents an elegant alternative to protective plexiglass shields with suspended lampshade-style hoods designed to help protect diners from COVID-19 particles. PLEX'EAT can be used in hotels, restaurants, casinos, nail salons and more, and hotels such as The Ritz-Carlton, Bahrain have recently introduced the system.

British designer Henry Holland and the face masks designed in collaboration with Yotel hotels
British designer Henry Holland and the face masks designed in collaboration with Yotel hotels
British designer Henry Holland and the face masks designed in collaboration with Yotel hotels
British designer Henry Holland and the face masks designed in collaboration with Yotel hotels
British fashion designer Henry Holland has partnered with hotel brand Yotel to release a new collection of face masks

The hottest autumn/winter 2020 trends:

With lockdown looks dominating the runways within our homes and face coverings becoming the year's most in-demand accessory, the 2020 fashion trends certainly stand out as unique, and one fashion designer embracing the opportunity to release a new collection is Henry Holland. The British designer is best known for his irreverent House of Holland brand popularised by the likes of Alexa Chung and Pixie Geldof, and he's now drawing on the brand's playful persona to release a new collection of face coverings in partnership with hip hotel brand Yotel. The limited edition ‘Wear YO Mask' Henry Holland x YOTEL collection promises to add ‘sass and style' to the government-mandated accessory and the masks are available in two different colours.

The second must-have item of 2020 is undoubtedly hand sanitiser, and some form of hand sanitising stations are now prevalent throughout all of the world's hotels. Pier One Sydney Harbour is leading the way in this department, taking it as an opportunity to introduce a new job role: Sanitiser Sommelier. Partnering with a number of local distillers that have recently pivoted into the sanitiser market, the hotel now offers a range of high-end sanitisers made using Australian aromatics, spices and botanicals. The Sanitiser Sommelier is on hand to help guests choose their perfect infusion with options including grapefruit, cassia and cardamom as well as native finger lime, cassia and raspberry.

About HotelMap

HotelMap is a global technology platform that's 100% focused on modernising, digitising, and automating all processes associated with hotel booking in the event sector – especially conferences and trade shows. HotelMap operates in over 500 cities worldwide, working with 287,161 hotels, and the HotelMap platform is used by the world’s leading conference and trade show organisers.