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The Future of Hotel Design

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Hotel occupancy is down 50 percent nationally in the pandemic-stifled world of travel. While hundreds of hotels nationwide remain closed because of the crisis, new hotels — from the sleek high-rise Joseph Hotel in Nashville, Tenn., to the Kimpton Armory Hotel in a 1941 Art Deco landmark in Bozeman, Mont. — continue to open.

Whether they are banking on the swell of tourism that many predict will follow the introduction of a vaccine, or bound financially to open, hoteliers are making plans for a future that now must consider new outbreaks and pandemics in the same way that public buildings permanently changed their security measures in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Boutique hotels that once acted as cultural commons with art exhibitions and buzzy public spaces will be toned down and disperse guests rather that draw them together, at least until the health crisis is over.

“The biggest thing right now is this focus on health and wellness and making sure people feel safe and confident going back into hotels,” said Tom Ito, the hospitality leader and a principal at Gensler, a global architecture firm. “Anything that assures that now and in the long term is here to stay.”

We asked hotel executives, designers and suppliers to imagine how the hotel experience might change in the post-Covid world beyond the now very evident enhanced housekeeping. The following predictions span present practices and speculative solutions.

Hotels have long been moving toward automation with self-check-out and keyless guest-room entry via cellphone, especially at budget and mid-scale hotels. The pandemic has only heightened the importance of these features, which align with increased needs for social distancing and avoiding strangers.

Now, travelers can expect more automation. Google Assistant has created a hospitality application for its virtual assistant Google Nest Hub, rolled out this summer in a handful of hotels nationally, including the Gansevoort Meatpacking hotel in New York City, the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess in Scottsdale, Ariz., and the Viceroy in Washington, D.C. (It’s not the first; Amazon’s Alexa assistant was launched in hotels in 2018).

A combination of a speaker and a tablet-size screen, Nest Hub allows guests to ask questions about things like pool hours, set an alarm and make requests for extra towels or room service without picking up a phone. For hotels that have blinds, temperature controls and lights wired for digital access, Nest Hub can control those with voice commands as well.

“We believe that it’s actually going to help both in providing a better in-room experience, but also avoiding unnecessary contact,” said Manuel Bronstein, the vice president of Google Assistant.

At Virgin Hotels in Chicago, Dallas and Nashville, and coming to Las Vegas early next year, the company’s app was made more robust this year to control room lights, temperature and television. Room configurations separate the back bedroom from the dressing room near the hallway with a barn door behind which guests can remain, allowing attendants access to make deliveries without contact.

“We don’t make you sign the room-service check,” said Raul Leal, the chief executive of Virgin Hotels. “That’s an archaic accounting tool.”

Not every hotel can offer outdoor dining year-round. Neither can their restaurants thrive with the capacity restrictions forced by social distancing requirements. The solution: Make the entire hotel a dining area. And throw in robotic servers.

“This is meant to be an answer to how do you deconstruct the restaurant experience so you don’t have to eat in one small place,” said Ron Swidler, the chief innovation officer at The Gettys Group, a Chicago-based hotel design, development and consulting firm. The Gettys Group recently convened with a consortium of 325 industry professionals from Hilton, Marriott and Cornell University, among others, to come up with the Hotel of Tomorrow project, collaborating on future hotel innovations. (The company has a track record with the workshop; in the early 2000s, it came up with the idea of a robotic butler, later developed by the Aloft brand of hotels as the Botler).

The think tank envisioned delivery units of various sizes that could keep food hot and drinks cold and provide video or music for entertainment.

“Maybe these robots have personalities and hang out with you,” Mr. Swidler added.

Even without robot partygoers, existing hotels have a great incentive to repurpose their now underutilized meeting rooms, ballrooms and even event lawns.

“We’re thinking the whole dining experience could change,” Mr. Ito, of Gensler, said. “You can create spaces around the hotel that aren’t necessarily in the restaurant, but become pop-up areas for private dining. It’s all about personalization and creating a unique experience.”

Most hotels are already maximizing the use of their outdoor spaces, where guests may feel safer from virus transmission, by moving dining tables and fitness activities outdoors. Ahead, designers predict, travelers may see more greenery coming inside as hotels seek to capture the calming effects of nature.

The Gettys Group envisions redesigning spaces such as boardrooms and event areas with plants enhanced by digital projections that simulate the natural movement in nature, supplemented by air-filtration systems that produce a cross breeze and germ-killing ultraviolet light.

“A part of it is a physical signal to people to say that this inside space is safe,” said Mr. Swidler, citing research that shows the stress-relieving effects of viewing nature.

Incorporating nature into buildings, known as biophilic design, is already at work in places with green walls, potted plants or moss gardens in guest rooms and public areas, such as those at the 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge in Brooklyn, N.Y.

“We’re seeing biophilic design as a driver,” Mr. Ito said, noting that more hotel rooms may feature expanded balconies or patios and operable windows that allow fresh air in.

Guest rooms will no longer be just places to sleep and shower. Instead, they will multitask as gyms, dining rooms and offices. Of course, travelers often use rooms for these purposes already. The difference will be designs to accommodate these expanded roles.

Consider room service. Instead of sitting on the edge of the bed and leaning over a rolled-in table to eat your club sandwich, the more accommodating rooms of the future may have banquettes or convertible dining spaces.

“Before room service was not so nice, but now it’s an amenity people want and you can design guest rooms for great dining experiences in your room or on your terrace,” Mr. Ito said.

Gyms are also expanding their in-room presence beyond the yoga mat in the closet. The newly renovated Gansevoort Meatpacking hotel in New York City features a fitness-on-demand service called Mirror that broadcasts fitness classes on a full-length mirror. Weights are available on demand.

“You don’t have to go downstairs and interact with other people in the fitness center and wear a mask while you work out,” said Anton Moore, the general manager of the hotel.

Sleep remains vital. The Gettys Group think tank proposed a high-tech bed that could monitor your sleep through sensors in the mattress and pillow and feed that data to a guest’s mobile device for analysis in the morning.

This summer, Americans rediscovered recreational vehicles as a means of taking their dwellings on the road. Now imagine a hotel company that maintains a fleet of autonomous R.V.s — equipped with a bedroom, bathroom and kitchen — that could rove from one location to the next.

The mobile hotel room — already imagined by rental van companies like Cabana — is one of the more futuristic of The Gettys Group ideas, featuring units that pull cars that detach for more nimble exploration in a destination. Guests would be driven from one hotel location to the next on a deluxe road trip, parking at affiliated hotels to use the pool, dine or have it serviced by housekeeping.

“The basic idea is to uncouple the hospitality experience from the hotel and set it out on the road,” Mr. Swidler said.


By: Elaine Glusac
Title: The Future of Hotel Design
Sourced From: www.nytimes.com/2020/10/14/travel/future-hotel-design-virus.html
Published Date: Wed, 14 Oct 2020 09:00:28 +0000

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What could you order from Ansett Airlines’ inflight bar in the early 1970s?

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People have always liked to drink on board flights, especially people from Australia. Therefore, it should be no surprise to anyone that there was an inflight bar offering in the 1970s.

Ansett Airlines were a major player in the Australian domestic market up until their demise in September 2001. For many years, there were two domestic airlines, Trans-Australia Airlines (TAA) and Ansett.

Ansett’s Inflight Bar

At the time, Ansett operated Boeing 727s, Douglas DC-9s and Fokker F27 Friendships on domestic routes in the country. Airline tickets were quite expensive, with tariffs agreed upon by both airlines thanks to Australia’s weird two-airline policy at the time.

While tickets were expensive and food complimentary, you still had to pay for a drink at the bar. Here is an inflight bar menu from the era, showing the drinks available and their prices.

Clearly the pricing is astounding by today’s standards – 30 cents for a beer? I’ll have thirty-three please! I like how Australian gin is 35c while the imported gin is just 5c more. Which would you choose?

You can tell it is from another era as you can buy cigarettes on board. These price up at 45c, a far cry from the extortionate prices people in the west pay these days for a smoke!

Overall Thoughts

The on board offering is pretty comprehensive for internal flights, and I imagine you’d be hard pressed not to find something you might like. In those times, all payments would have been by cash as well, which would have meant a lot of coinage being handled on board.

Of course, things haven’t changed too much over the years. On many airlines you pay for your drinks just as they did back in the 1970s. Shame the prices aren’t the same of course!

Did you ever buy drinks on board flights from the inflight bar back in the day? Do you still? Thank you for reading and if you have any comments or questions, please leave them below.

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Featured image by Daniel Tanner on Airliners.net via Wikimedia Commons.
Menu image by Ikara on Australian Frequent Flyer.

By: The Flight Detective
Title: What could you order from Ansett Airlines’ inflight bar in the early 1970s?
Sourced From: travelupdate.com/ansett-airlines-inflight-bar-menu/
Published Date: Thu, 19 Nov 2020 15:03:14 +0000

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These Shrimp Leave the Safety of Water and Walk on Land. But Why?

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The shrimp stop swimming at dusk and gather near the river’s edge. After sunset, they begin to climb out of the water. Then they march. All night long, the inch-long crustaceans parade along the rocks.

The parading shrimp of northeastern Thailand have inspired legends, dances and even a statue. (Locals also eat them.) During the rainy season, between late August and early October, tourists crowd the riverbanks with flashlights to watch the shrimp walk.

Watcharapong Hongjamrassilp first learned about the parading shrimp, and the hundred thousand or more tourists who come each year to see them, about 20 years ago. When he started studying biology, he returned to the topic. “I realized that we know nothing about this,” he said: What species are they? Why and how do they leave the safety of the water to walk upstream on dry land? Where are they going?

Mr. Hongjamrassilp, a graduate student at the University of California, Los Angeles, decided to answer those questions himself. His findings appeared this month in the Journal of Zoology.

Working with wildlife center staff members, Mr. Hongjamrassilp staked out nine sites along a river in Thailand’s Ubon Ratchathani province. They found shrimp parading at two of the sites — a stretch of rapids, and a low dam.

The videos they recorded revealed that the shrimp paraded from sundown to sunup. They traveled up to 65 feet upstream. Some individual shrimp stayed out of the water for 10 minutes or more.

“I was so surprised,” Mr. Hongjamrassilp said, “because I never thought that a shrimp can walk that long.” Staying in the river’s splash zone may help them keep their gills wet, so they can keep taking in oxygen. He also observed that the shells of the shrimp seem to trap a little water around their gills, like a reverse dive helmet.

DNA analysis from captured shrimp showed that nearly all belonged to the species Macrobrachium dienbienphuense, part of a genus of shrimp that live mostly or fully in freshwater. Many Macrobrachiumspecies spend part of their lives migrating upstream to their preferred habitats.

Most parading shrimp that Mr. Hongjamrassilp captured were young. Observations and lab experiments showed that these shrimp probably leave the water when the flow becomes too strong for them. Larger adult shrimp can handle a stronger current without washing away, so they’re less likely to leave the water.

Walking on land is dangerous for the little shrimp, even under cover of darkness. Predators including frogs, snakes and large spiders lurk nearby, Mr. Hongjamrassilp says. “Literally, they wait to eat them along the river.”

And the shrimp can survive on land for only so long. If the parading crustaceans lose their way, they may dry out and die before they get back to the river. A few times, Mr. Hongjamrassilp came across groups of lost shrimp dead on the rocks, their once-translucent bodies baked pink.

Yet most navigate upstream successfully, and scientists have spotted other freshwater shrimp around the world performing similar feats, scaling dams and even climbing waterfalls.

Leaving the water when the swimming gets tough may have helped these animals spread to new habitats over their evolutionary history, Mr. Hongjamrassilp said. Today, the number of parading shrimp in Thailand seems to be declining. He thinks tourist activity may be a factor, and learning more about the shrimp might help protect them.

The study’s authors made “some really excellent observations,” said Alan Covich, an ecologist at the University of Georgia who was not involved in the research. But understanding why the Ubon Ratchathani shrimp move upstream, and how far they travel, will require more research, he said.

“The most surprising thing to me was that it attracted so many tourists,” Dr. Covich said. He doesn’t know of any other example of people gathering to appreciate a crustacean in quite the same way.

“We have crayfish festivals, we have all kinds of things,” Dr. Covich said, “but generally it’s people eating them, not watching them move.”

By: Elizabeth Preston
Title: These Shrimp Leave the Safety of Water and Walk on Land. But Why?
Sourced From: www.nytimes.com/2020/11/18/science/shrimp-parade-thailand.html
Published Date: Wed, 18 Nov 2020 17:02:07 +0000

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Will Aer Lingus launch transatlantic flights from Manchester?

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There are reports that Aer Lingus have applied for 1,500 slots at Manchester Airport for the Summer 2021 season. This will allow the airline to base four aircraft there and service flights to the United States.

At present, there have been no press releases from the airline stating what is going on. Even so, it probably makes sense for the Irish airline to do this in the current market.

Aer Lingus And Manchester

From what is known, there will be three Airbus A321LRs and an A330 based at Manchester. These will operate non-stop services to New York JFK, Boston, Chicago and Orlando, and the season starts on 28 March 2021.

With Thomas Cook having gone out of business, there is likely space for another competitor. New York and Orlando will see competition from Virgin Atlantic, while the other two routes have no airline flying at the moment.

Aer Lingus has been connecting passengers over Dublin very successfully from the UK regions for a while now. Due to this, they will have visibility on traffic patterns, potential yields and more, making this an informed decision.

I imagine they also hope to cream off some of the connecting traffic that routes through London Heathrow on British Airways and Amsterdam on KLM among others. It would prove to be quite successful.

Transatlantic Joint Venture Approval

The US Department of Transport has tentatively given its approval for Aer Lingus to join the oneworld transatlantic joint business. This is operated by American Airlines, British Airways, Iberia and Finnair.

These airlines coordinate schedules and pricing, share revenues and expenses. For the consumer, it means more choice – those making a booking on British Airways across the Atlantic will also see options on American Airlines on the BA web site as one example.



Theoretically, it would allow people seeking flights on the British Airways web site to automatically be given options to fly non-stop with Aer Lingus, along with the Manchester-London Heathrow-US city connecting itinerary.

Whether Aer Lingus will join the oneworld alliance, even in a oneworld connect capacity remains to be seen. Frequent flyers would welcome it, especially those in Ireland.

Overall Thoughts

No doubt the boffins have been working behind the scenes to see if the business case for transatlantic flights from Manchester stack up. As things have proceeded as far as a slot application, I would guess chances are good that it will go ahead.

Either way, let’s see if this happens and if it does, whether Aer Lingus will stay for the long haul. If they can make more money elsewhere, they’ll up sticks and leave. Regardless, it is an interesting development in European aviation.

What do you think of Aer Lingus starting transatlantic services from Manchester? Thank you for reading and if you have any comments or questions, please leave them below.

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Featured image by N509FZ via Wikimedia Commons.
Aer Lingus A321neo LR by Pitmanaaron via Wikimedia Commons.
Business class cabin via One Mile At A Time.

By: The Flight Detective
Title: Will Aer Lingus launch transatlantic flights from Manchester?
Sourced From: travelupdate.com/aer-lingus-manchester/
Published Date: Wed, 18 Nov 2020 18:03:48 +0000

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