The world's first robot-operated hotel opens

Japanese property is run solely by robot staff and even includes a dinosaur concierge
The world's first robot-operated hotel opens
By Sarah Williams
Tue 21 Jul 2015 01:56 PM

The wacky property, called ‘strange hotel’ in Japanese, is run solely by robot staff and even includes a dinosaur concierge.

Henn na hotel in Nagasaki in southern Japan incorporates what a lot of hoteliers only talk about: tech-based check-in, reduced labour costs via robotic staff and facial recognition software instead of room keys (guests who want extra privacy can opt out of this feature).

Hotel operator is Japanese businessman Hideo Sawada, who operates the hotel inside Huis Ten Bosch amusement park, told a crowd of sneak-peek visitors that the hotel is not a gimmick, but a genuine attempt to cut down on costs.

The property features an English-speaking dinosaur robot and a humanoid Japanese-speaking robot at its reception, as well as a host of other gadget-driven robotics throughout the hotel.

The hotel’s website states: “We wanted to provide a pleasant and comfortable hotel at a more reasonable rate. A hotel fully equipped with up-to-date and environmentally-friendly ‘smart’ facilities that is both fun to visit while at the same time being a place in which memories can be made.”

The first stage opening has 72 rooms, with 72 more to follow in the coming months.

Henn na hotel is billed by its operators as a Smart Hotel, and incorporates reduced construction costs it says can be adopted by the rest of the world’s hoteliers and in addition to the labour-saving robots, also features solar power in much of its operations, thus making it a low-cost hotel operationally.

One of the struggles the creators faced when attempting to use robotics to replace all human personnel was constantly evolving technology, especially within the Japanese market, which is fast-paced, with Japanese citizens often being early adopters of new tech.

Because of this, the hotel has signed agreements with three main robotics tech companies to ensure their robot staff are evolving and reflect the newest and best technology.

As well as the self-service check in- and –out, the hotel Henn na also offers an in-room tablet from which guests can order extras and arrange facilities and amenities to their liking.

The ‘smart hotel’ also incorporates air conditioning which is run via radiation panels rather than traditional ventilation.

Room sizes are generous for Japanese standards, running from 21 to 33 m2.

The F&B options are room service as well as breakfast in a restaurant adjacent to the hotel.

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