An all-robot hotel for Japan, plus keyless hotel room entry and my Destination of the Day: Carmel, California

The Starwood Hotel botlr is already in action in some hotels. This isn't one of them Japan plans to use as far as I know.

The Starwood Hotel botlr is already in action in some hotels. This isn’t one of them Japan plans to use as far as I know.

I wrote the other day in my Globe and Mail Navigator column about robots moving into the world of travel at a rapid pace, taking over the jobs of bartenders on cruise ships and even acting as a concierge at a hotel, where at least a lonely business person on the road doesn’t have to be embarrassed by asking another human being where to find a companion for the night. And we don’t have to leave them a tip, although they might appreciate gift certificates for Jiffy Lube.
But I spotted something on travelpulse.com the other day that said Japan will soon offer a hotel staffed ENTIRELY by robots. The hotel, apparently called Henn-na, will open in July at a theme park called Huis Ten Bosch in the Nagasaki prefecture of Japan, the website said. Apparently they’ll have robots acting as porters and cleaner and even receptionists.
The story said there will be three “actroids,” or robots with a human likeness, that will act as as receptionists and be able to carry on intelligent conversations. Presumably this includes telling us why we have to pay $16.95 a day for lousy Wi-Fi, but I’m not sure.
The story about the Japanese hotel robots came to light on the same day where I saw a woman in Korea had fallen asleep on the floor of her house, only to have her robot vacuum cleaner mistake her hair for a fur ball and suck her long braids into its whirling gears and rotors. The poor woman had to be separated from her attacker by police.
In another travel/technology related matter, I’m reading more and more about how hotels are turning to keyless entry in their rooms.
The idea is you get a code on your smartphone and use your iPhone or Android phone or even Blackberry (remember those?) to open your hotel room.
cromwellhotelroomIt’s being introduced by groups such as Hilton and Starwood, which includes Sheraton, Westin and other properties, according to a report at hotelnewsnow.com. The Cromwell Hotel (see photo) is doing it in Las Vegas, as well.
Somehow the idea makes me uneasy, as I already worry about how much information is on my iPhone. But I feel better reading that most conversion plans call for normal keys or plastic cards to be used alongside; just in case our phone dies or we lose it or drop it in a toilet. Not that those things ever happen.
Hotelnewsnow.com said Starwood is retrofitting 30,000 doors at 150 hotels worldwide this year to accommodate the system.
You can do this already at the new Cromwell Hotel, a lovely boutique property in Las Vegas. The manager of guest experiences, Brent Klimow, showed me how it works and you can watch a video I took.
The Cromwell launch “is the first step in a larger initiative to bring eKey to the majority of Caesars Entertainment affiliated properties, including nine resorts on the Las Vegas Strip,” officials said in a press release.
If you’re a golf fan, you’ll be seeing a lot of Carmel, California on the TV this weekend. It’s the annual AT&T tournament on the PGA Tour this week, held each year at fabled Pebble Beach. It’s a fantastic golf course, with those killer views out to the Pacific and the rising hills behind the bay. I recently stayed at two distinct properties in the area.
carmelLa Playa Carmel is a lush property with a lovely, old-time Spanish feel in the heart of Carmel-by-the-Sea. Look for great shopping and a wonderful city winery tour where you can pick and choose from a large group of urban wine-tasting rooms. I also stayed at Quail Lodge & Golf Club in nearby Carmel Valley where I had an enormous, well-appointed unit. There are more fantastic wineries in the area, including Bernardus and Chateau Julien, and the rolling hills and deep, wooded valleys make for a great drive. Two very different ways to do one of California’s most beautiful destinations.

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