Hotel Design Inspiration – Genius Loci, or “The Spirit of Place”

Capturing the essence and soul of a location that surrounds a structure, and exhibiting that essence through the design extends the cultural experience into the hotel and further establishes a sense of place within the lodging experience. In architecture and interior design, genius loci is a profound inspiration for creating a sense of “place” and a truly unique experience for guests. How does genius loci inspire hotel design, both structurally and in the interior design, and how can hotels use it to create a more enhanced guest experience?
What is Genius Loci?
The genius loci is a long-familiar concept in architecture and design, and has, over many years, been adapted and incorporated in a variety of ways. In fact, the origins of genius loci (Latin for “spirit of place”) date back to ancient Roman religion. The Romans constructed numerous altars throughout the empire dedicated to the protective spirits of those places. In Asia, the spirits of places are still honored today in numerous indoor and outdoor shrines.
The genius loci is widely known as one of the principles of garden and landscape design, established by 18th-century poet Alexander Pope, who determined that the design of a landscape should always be adapted to the context of the location. In architecture, the Neo-Rationalist style, derived from the genius loci concept, is identified by the incorporation of vernacular elements and forms, and adapting the structure to the existing environment.
What motivates a traveler to journey to a distant locale? Often it is the desire to be immersed in the culture and character of that place, to have an authentic experience unlike any other. A hotel that presents an exclusive experience that is an extension of the culture and feeling of the locale is likely to excite and attract these guests.
The “spirit” and “power” that resides in a place is unique to that native area, and is considered part of the land. Capturing the essence and soul of a location that surrounds a structure, and exhibiting that essence through the design extends the cultural experience into the hotel, its restaurants and services, and further creates a sense of place for guests.
The genius loci is more than simply placing traditional or vernacular objects on display, or incorporating regional materials in the construction process. The spirit of place is translated through creating special abodes that reflect local sacred spaces, or creating opportunities for guests to experience excitement and memorable moments. Genius loci often incorporates a historical narrative, sometimes layered with the complexity of that particular place, or involves infusing elements of the local culture that make that place distinctive. The structure, both inside and outside, portrays the character and individuality of the location but is also part of the larger ecosystem of place. Authenticity is integral.
In his 2001 article, “Can Spirit of Place be a guide to Ethical Building?” Isis Brook suggests that genius loci is a means to prevent homogenized design and instead celebrate design diversity by creating meaningful places. Likewise, the author Christian Norberg-Schulz encourages architects and designers to create spaces with distinct character, buildings that help people to know how they belong to that place.
What Does This Mean for Hotel Design?
In tapping into the genius loci architects and interior designers not only immerse themselves into the environment surrounding the structure to observe and harness a “feeling” for the location, they also conduct an immense amount of research to ascertain any historical, cultural and environmental information to help formulate a design narrative. The narrative is the backbone that guides all design decisions, from furnishings to fixtures and from room layout to finishes. The hotel operator’s existing brand, the client’s cultural influence, and even nearby competitors all can play a role in the ideas extracted and translated in establishing a sense of place. Like detectives searching for clues, hotel designers extract ideas from the myriad sources of information to incorporate into the hotel’s theme or story driving the design.
History, Local Culture and Art Translated Through Interior Design
A prime example of genius loci as inspiration for hotel design is the Rosewood Inn of the Anasazi in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The inn, which was recently renovated on the occasion of the hotel’s 25th anniversary, offers guests an authentic Southwest experience that celebrates the city’s artistic spirit and Native American heritage. When the luxury hotel was first constructed in 1991 in a historic building, architects of Aspen Design Group and interior designers of Wilson Associates sought to preserve the Pueblo exterior and celebrate the history and rich cultural heritage of Santa Fe in the building’s design. The hotel is named for the Anasazi Indians, a cliff-dwelling tribe the Navajo called “the ancient ones” who inhabited the region nearly 2,000 years ago.
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In an effort to honor their spirit and culture, the design team visited several Anasazi sites and extensively researched the culture and craftsmen before designing the space. The authenticity of the design is evident in the incorporation of Navajo symbols and patterns into ironwork and woven rugs, historical pigments used in the color palette, and stonework crafted in traditional methods. At every stage the design team “invoked the spirits” with ceremonies and blessings. Utilizing desert earth tones, handcrafted millwork and furniture, and authentic art from the area, each space in the hotel-from the cozy lobby lounge and restaurant to the guest rooms and suites-exhibits the soul of Santa Fe. Canvases by prominent New Mexican painters, Navajo weavings, and custom-crafted objects by local artists line the walls, while hand-loomed antique-patterned rugs cover plank pine floors.
Unlike many interpretations of Southwest décor, which can appear unauthentic, the Inn of the Anasazi is a contemporary sophisticated interpretation of the traditions and history of the Santa Fe region. In its recent renovation by Principal Designer Jim Rimelspach and the same interior design team that created the initial space 25 years ago, the hotel is a refreshed and modernized authentic Santa Fe experience.
Social Customs Can Inspire Unique Hotel Space Planning
Tapping into the genius loci as inspiration for interior design not only produces cultural and historical references for design, but many social customs in a region can be translated as genius loci as well, and inspire some truly innovative space planning in hotels.
The Hilton Chengdu is an elegant and sophisticated urban hotel located in the new financial district of Chengdu, capital of the Sichuan Province in China. A predominately business hotel, the Hilton Chengdu is part of a modern mixed-use development interconnected by an outdoor landscaped roof terrace that overlooks the lobby entrance atrium of the hotel. When creating the hotel, interior designers from Wilson Associates’ Singapore studio wished to make guests, most of whom are weary business travelers, feel as comfortable as possible, especially upon arrival to the hotel’s lobby.
The Hilton Chengdu lobby welcomes guests, much like being invited into a friend’s home for a gathering, in that the check-in counter isn’t what greets guests first. Unlike typical hotels where the check-in counter is the primary focal point in the lobby, the Hilton Chengdu lobby emulates the customary, more familiar gathering in a friend’s home. When invited to someone’s house, guests enter a welcoming living room with an open kitchen adjacent, where they can replenish with a refreshing beverage and sumptuous meal made by the host.
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This social custom defined the architectural layout of the lobby space: As guests enter the front doors of the Hilton Chengdu, they are welcomed into an expansive, comfortable gathering space with various seating arrangements for resting and relaxing after a long day of business. Adjacent to the “living room” space is an all-day dining area that invites guests to recharge and replenish. The intimate check-in area is tucked away and easy to find once guests are ready to retire to their rooms or require personal assistance.
Five Ways to Incorporate Genius loci into hotel interior Design:
Site Visit – Visit the site where the building is to be constructed, and take time to observe the surrounding area.
Historical Research – What is the history of the people and land in that area? Are there significant historical events that took place in the region? Any historical landmarks or personas from the region?
Environment – What natural elements exist in the area (a dense forest, a vast river known for trade, or maybe a mineral quarry)? What is the weather like (snow, delicate rain, bright sunshine)? Are there natural resources that have been integral to the region’s success?
Neighborhood and Vicinity – What other structures exist around the building site, and what is their purpose? Why do people visit that area?
Local Culture – What is the cuisine like? What makes the people of this locale unique? Is there local or regional art that defines the area culture?
Tapping into the Environment
In hospitality, we are in the business of creating genuine and often one-of-a-kind experiences for our guests and clients. We’re composing the spaces where people all over the world enjoy and celebrate life – places where they eat, sleep, laugh, share, and create memories.
Finding design inspiration in the local resources and building architecture, historical events, culture, color palettes and patterns, and even cuisine flavors can inspire a hotel’s design. All inhabit the genius loci, and this essence of the location surrounding the hotel help create a unique experience and sense of place for guests.


Anything-but-basic meat and potatoes

Meat and potatoes. The phrase has grown to mean more than just a protein and a starch. It’s become a descriptor, shorthand to describe an unadventurous—possibly even boring—eater. Every so often, you’ll hear a chef or manager describe their customers this way: “Well, I would love to put something different on the menu, but our customers…they’re very meat and potatoes.”

Well, meat-and-potato dishes like chorizo empanadas, Cornish pasties, Southwestern shepherd’s pies and Indian samosas just might be the way to change all that. Flavor profiles from around the globe and portable presentations take meat and potatoes (and your “meat and potatoes” customers) on a flavor adventure.

Miner Food and the Latin American Hot Pocket

Let’s begin underground to find the origins of portable meat and potatoes. The tin miners of Cornwall are said to be the originators of the Cornish pasty, a sturdy pastry shell surrounding meat, root vegetables, gravy and diced potatoes. The pasty was a portable lunch, taken into the dark depths of the mine. Pasties stay warm for hours, can be eaten without cutlery and—legend has it—are tough enough to survive a fall down a mineshaft.

Kerala shepherd’s pie, named for a state in India, features warm spices like cinnamon and cardamom mixed with lamb. The potatoes are spiked with shallots, mustard seeds and curry leaves. Photo: True Aussie Beef and Lamb

Let’s begin underground to find the origins of portable meat and potatoes. The tin miners of Cornwall are said to be the originators of the Cornish pasty, a sturdy pastry shell surrounding meat, root vegetables, gravy and diced potatoes. The pasty was a portable lunch, taken into the dark depths of the mine. Pasties stay warm for hours, can be eaten without cutlery and—legend has it—are tough enough to survive a fall down a mineshaft.

From those mines, the Cornish pasty traveled to miners’ lunchboxes across the ocean to the mining towns of the new country.

In the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, the Cornish pasty is a local favorite, something the chefs at Michigan State University (MSU) are very familiar with. This portable meat pie is a jumping-off point for Jason Strotheide, executive chef, MSU Culinary Services, East Neighborhood, who finds meat-and-potatoes inspiration everywhere.

“One of my favorite things about food is that across the globe there are different cultural versions of the same foods represented in countless ways,” Strotheide says. “It’s all about the methods of preparations and, more importantly, what ingredients the locals have to work with.”

CURRY UP: Indian spices are a quick route to an out-of-the-ordinary beef stew with potatoes. Photo: Idaho Potato Commission

In a college dining environment, the idea of a portable feast that works for every daypart and even catering, is especially appealing, and Strotheide draws on the “endless varieties of the prestuffed, folded sandwich,” he says.

“In the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, it’s Cornish pasties. But how about a curried lamb samosa from India?” Strotheide muses. “Both of those are great, but my favorite is the empanada: The Latin American version of the beloved Hot Pocket.”

Empanadas in the MSU kitchen begin with masa harina (translated to “dough flour,” it’s a traditional Mexican flour made with corn). Strotheide likes to blend masa harina with white flour, a combination that yields a tender dough with a light corn flavor and a crisp snap when fried.

For the filling, he browns crumbly chorizo sausage with onion, garlic and diced potatoes (skin on), along with some spicy chilies. Strotheide tastes the filling, and if chorizo lacks oompf, he adds some chili powder and cumin. The filling is then cooled, queso fresco or queso Chihuahua cheese is added along with cilantro. From there, the empanadas are formed: dough circles, filling added and edges crimped with a fork. These can be baked, but, “let’s be honest, we all know they taste better out of the fryer,” Strotheide says.

TWO NEW WAYS WITH POUTINE: Poutine is a meat-and-potatoes dish that’s overdue for adaptation. In this version (at left), Bombay chili cheese fries by Mehawan Irani of Chai Pani in Decatur, Ga., fries are topped with kheema, a mixture of lamb or turkey seasoned with chili powder, garam masala, serrano peppers, ginger, cumin, turmeric and coriander that’s been simmered with yogurt and crushed tomatoes. Shredded mozzarella or havarti cheese provides the cheesy finishing touch. Classic poutine features squeaky cheese curds and gravy made with veal stock. Photos: Idaho Potato Commission

“Once they’re finished cooking,” he cautions, “no matter what your mind tells you, do not take that first bite for a couple minutes, unless you like searing pain on the roof of your mouth! Then, go ahead and take your best shot.” He also recommends “minimizing the damage” by offering some cool guacamole or crema on the side.

Living dangerously aside, empanadas like these present a great opportunity to use the last of late summer’s bounty. Sweet corn, peppers and zucchini all go great with chorizo.


Reducing and Managing Food Waste in Hotels

Our latest Know How Guide has been developed in collaboration with Considerate Hoteliers to help hoteliers and chefs understand how to manage and reduce food waste in hotels – what is the issue, how should it be addressed and what resources are on offer

This guide has been produced by the International Tourism Partnership (ITP) in collaboration with Considerate Hoteliers. The article draws on resources from organisations like WRAP that are available for the hospitality industry, with additional statistics and information on waste management separately referenced. It is designed for use by Corporate Responsibility and Environment Managers and Chefs. You can read the guide here on the site, or download it here.

What’s the problem with food waste?

Roughly one third of the food produced in the world for human consumption every year — approximately 1.3 billion tonnes — gets lost or wasted each year[1]
Every year, consumers in rich countries waste almost as much food as the entire net food production of sub-Saharan Africa[2]
842 million people in the world do not have enough to eat[3]
When food rots it creates methane (CH4) which has 21 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide[4]
If food waste was a country, it would be the world’s 3rd largest emitter of CO2[5]
Every time food is wasted, the water, energy, time, manpower, land, fertilizer, fuel, packaging and MONEY put into growing, preparing, storing, transporting, cooking the food is wasted. This great video captures it perfectly
In short; reducing food waste helps you stop wasting money and a host of other resources. Here is an estimation of the carbon emissions created by common foods.

In the UK, food waste represents a cost to the hotel sector of £318 million each year including food procurement, labour, utilities and waste management costs, or £4,000 per tonne.

Estimated annual statistics show that UK hotels:

Produce 289,700 tonnes of waste each year, including 79,000 tonnes of food waste
Produce 9% of the total food waste across the hospitality and food service sector in the UK
Only 43% of all waste is recycled[6].
Statistics are similar in other countries. In Ireland, of the 750,000 tonnes of organic waste generated each year by businesses, over 350,000 comes from commercial businesses (e.g. food retail, hotels, food wholesale, restaurants, etc.) It has been estimated that each tonne of food waste in Ireland can cost between €2,000 – €5,000 – sometimes less, often times more.[7]

In the US, 68m tonnes of food waste are produced each year, with around 39.7m tonnes going to landfill or incineration. One third of this is from full and quick service (QSR) restaurants[8].

Why take action?

By taking a few simple steps to waste less and recycle more, and by working out the cost of food waste to the business, hotels can reap financial as well as environmental benefits. Read on and find out more.

Where is waste generated?

Hotels often say they waste very little food as the plates generally come back clean. However, food waste comes from a variety of sources;Food waste in hotels

Even in the best-run kitchens there will be some food waste. The priority is to reduce how much food is wasted in your property, before considering how best to dispose of unavoidable waste.

How to reduce food waste?

WRAP outlines 4 steps:

Step 1: Measure your food waste
Step 2: Develop an action plan to reduce food waste using the data collected, with targets, timescales and responsibilities
Step 3: Review progress on the plan each month
Step 4: Share your good work with staff, consumers and industry

The resources referenced below and a step-by-step online guide can all be found at WRAP’s Hospitality and Foodservice Online Resource centre. Based on material from Unilever, the resources are relevant to any hotel anywhere in the world.

Step 1: Measure your food waste

For a trial period, e.g. a week, start collecting food waste in three separate bins (one each for preparation, spoilage and plate waste), where appropriate, to understand where and why this waste arises. Weigh them daily to find out where the most food waste is being generated. This should include food that would otherwise have ended up in the sink disposal unit. Remember that this is going to present a challenge to staff to do things differently so preparation is key – make sure staff understand why you are doing this and get on board.

You can record this on a Food Waste Tracking Sheet (see below), available via WRAP or US EPA. For more detail, Unilever’s Wise Up On Waste is an app for professional kitchens to conveniently monitor and track food waste, including monitoring the composition of plate waste. We’d recommend you go this extra step as if you are wasting a lot of meat, this is costing you a lot of money!

Case study: The SRA and The Bingham. In the UK, the Sustainable Restaurant Association (SRA) is running a scheme called Food Save to help hoteliers and restaurants understand and reduce their food waste.Waste frompreparation, spoilage and plate waste are separated and weighed for a month to identify sources of food waste. The Bingham Hotel piloted the scheme in spring 2014. GM Erick Kervaon reports that the first challenge was to get staff on board. Changing habits and getting people to do things differently can be a challenge; after all, many chefs just want to cook! Key to the success of the project at The Bingham was to present to staff at the start of the project to get them on board – not only with an environmental message but using the opportunity to engage staff in the business through their financial responsibility for reducing wastage. Empowering staff in this way and allowing them to share in the success by allocating part of the savings to a staff football tournament really helped engage staff. Now segregation of waste is business as usual and the restaurant at The Bingham is turning a higher profit.
Calculate the amount of food waste produced each year from the data collected. Multiply this figure by the cost per tonne (£4,000 in the UK) to find out how much this could be costing your business each year. Use actual data from food wasted and disposal costs if you are able to collect this.

Repeat this at least twice a year to measure your progress. This will enable the cost of food waste to be identified and for progress to be tracked over time.

Case study: Strattons is a small, independent, family-run hotel in Norfolk. In just one year (2010-11), the hotel managed to save over £16,000 by reducing food and packaging waste, increasing recycling to 98% and making savings in other areas such as good housekeeping and water use. One food waste initiative was to naturally dry coffee grounds and use for horticultural purposes, reducing food waste by around 332kg per year. Read more here
Step 2: Develop an action plan to reduce food waste using the data collected, with targets, timescales and responsibilities.

Your action plan should include;

Preventing spoilagewrap stock sheet

Review stock management and food delivery processes for food items with a short shelf life. Ensure stock is rotated as new deliveries come in (first in, first out). WRAP provides stock control sheets online
Store stock correctly at the right temperature, in the right packaging, labelled and with dates
Ordering and menu planning

Using some pre-prepared, frozen or dried ingredients can reduce wastage. And remember, you can freeze most foodstuffs – even eggs!
Be familiar with reservations forecasts and do not over-order or over-prepare. Is 20% extra a good buffer on a busy day? Can another 20% be kept frozen for contingencies? Track the menu for slower-moving dishes. Customers don’t need too many choices and keeping the menu simple reduces the possibility of waste.
Be imaginative with your menus! Consider what perishable ingredients or trimmings can be used in different ways, e.g. fish trimmings or bones for stock, bread for breadcrumbs or croutons, ingredients for pate & soups, etc., and plan menus accordingly to use these ingredients, e.g. by offering daily specials. And why not offer potatoes with skin on? Unilever’s Wise Up On Waste app has some handy tips for ‘repurposing’ ingredients. Excess preparation and ingredients close to their use-by date could be made available for staff meals.
Case study –The Lancaster, London: “Nose-to-tail” dining, the principle of using the whole animal to avoid waste, has recently been introduced at The Lancaster, London. Not only is this a great initiative to reduce food waste; it is an inventive commercial offering.
too good to waste Offer customers choice. That could be different portion sizes – a consumer survey showed that 41% of those surveyed blamed oversized portions for leaving food. Good portion control using standard measures will also help you keep the cost consistent. For smaller portions you could offer a refill/second helping – or options for side dishes or build their own dish so that they can order what they prefer and will not leave food on the plate. The main dish and sides are most likely to be left behind, with chips (fries) the most commonly left food (32%). Offer ‘doggy bags’/boxes for consumers to take home what they have not eaten, where appropriate – be careful to check local health and safety regulations. “83% of the public would ask for a doggy box but don’t think they can or are too embarrassed” (Sustainable Restaurant Association).
Case study: Greene King pubs in the UK have a range of different portion sizes. The Golden Years Menu caters for more mature guests, specifically tailored to satisfy lighter appetites, and two different children’s menus are offered; the Children’s Menu – suitable for children between 7 and 10 years, and the Juniors’ Menu – suitable for children under 7 years.
If running a buffet, some hotels have successfully used a ‘pay by weight’ system which enables customers to eat as much as they want but discourages them from taking too much. See this case study from Dubai. Others use signs to request that customers just take what they need, such as those from ‘Love Food Hate Waste’.
Engage your staff. The infographic in this article on Green Hotelier summarises the key steps to take
See the Love Food Hate Waste Resource Pack to see the consumer research referred to above and for great advice on engaging the customer.

Step 3: Review progress on the plan each month

Speak to staff and get their feedback on the progress being made. This will keep people involved and motivated. Measure the amount of waste produced regularly and work out how much money is being saved.

Step 4: Share your good work with staff, consumers and industry

Don’t forget to thank staff and keep them motivated. Rewards are excellent to recognise the efforts they have made.

Keep up-to-date on all the good practice being carried out by other businesses by looking online, e.g. the WRAP site or initiatives local to you (see the Further Reading list at the end of this Guide). Apply anything you learn to the plan and update it regularly.

Share your case studies with us at Considerate Hoteliers and on Green Hotelier – here’s how to contribute. On Twitter, use the hashtag #foodwaste to make sure others see your story, and to search for and link to relevant organisations.

You might also choose to get external recognition for your achievements through awards and certifications, such as the UK the Chartered Institute of Wastes Management (CIWM) Awards, Carbon Trust Waste Standard, as achieved by Whitbread, or by signing the Hospitality and Food Service Agreement – a voluntary agreement to support the sector in reducing waste and recycling more.

See the Love Food Hate Waste Resource Pack to see consumer research and some great advice on engaging the customer

Staff training and communication

Getting staff on board with your waste reduction and management strategy is key. Work out right from the start who to involve, and ensuring that together you make it work. It takes time to create new processes and habits so make sure staff know why you are doing what you are doing. See the case study on The Bingham above. Get their buy in. Make it easy. Train and retrain staff. It can be hard to get all staff together for training, so consider what alternatives you can provide. Whitbread’s ‘Say No to Landfill’ training modules are online so staff can do it at a time that suits them.

Case Study: At The Hyatt Regency London, The Churchill, four staff teams were asked to create short videos on waste handling. All four were played in the staff restaurant, to the amusement of associates who saw their senior managers ridiculing themselves. The success of this strategy was combining a clear message with a lot of fun which staff would talk about and remember.
Case Study: London Kings Cross Premier Inn was awarded the ‘Most Improved Recycler 2014’ award from Veolia. During the first 7 months of 2013, London Kings Cross contaminated their recycling waste streams on 27 separate occasions resulting in significant risk and cost to the business. Then incredibly from October 2013 all contamination suddenly stopped…… see below their success story and how they achieved their award!
The Issue… The team at London Kings Cross were experiencing many issues with their waste since the general to mixed recycling conversion programme was introduced. Contamination of waste streams were resulting in non-collections, which meant a significant waste build up that affected other key services for the hotel. A joint WHR and Veolia support site survey audit was carried out to see what steps could be put in place to solve the continued waste issues at site.
Two problems were quickly identified…
Housekeeping teams misunderstood what waste from their activities should be put into which bins.
There was also a need to increase this service provision at site by two extra lifts.
The steps taken to turn a negative into a positive…
Following on from extensive conversations, Veolia were able to increase the mixed recycling provision, preventing the waste build up from occurring over the weekend.
In order to move forward and correct the contamination issues, the site embarked on an extensive waste & recycling awareness education programme, including arranging for all team members to take the Academy on-line ‘Say No to Landfill’ module training.
In addition, it was identified that not only were the House keeping team contractors, but for the majority of them, English was not their first language. This was addressed by the waste team visiting the site to arrange to brief the house keeping team in their language. This was translated by their shift leader so that everyone on site knew what was expected and how the process worked.
The Outcome… Year to date, all contamination at site has stopped and this has resulted in a month by month improvement for the hotel. This is a direct result of the hotel manager’s drive and the team’s persistence and engagement with the Good Together waste programme.
Solutions for treatment and disposal of waste

The best, most cost-effective and environmentally friendly solution is to stop food becoming waste or surplus in the first place – being eaten is always the best option for food! However, food you cannot use does not always need to become waste. Distinguish between ‘surplus food’ and ‘waste’. Even the best-run kitchens generate some food waste, so what you can’t reduce, prioritise for treatment as per the above diagram.

Legislation and availability of local services will affect your choice of options so check locally and apply the best option according to the food recovery hierarchy above.

Optimisation – feed hungry people – food banks and collection

The best way to use excess food is to feed hungry people. Many charities around the world will collect excess food, including prepared food, to provide for the needy, though note there may be various legal and health and safety requirements to check with your legal team and with the charity in question. Many hotels and companies small and large, including Hilton Worldwide, have risen to the challenge

The process will depend on the market and capabilities of the food bank. Identify food banks or agencies that can accept prepared food and then identify hotels in the area they operate that might want to participate. The food bank or agency can then work with the hotel to determine the types of food they can take and the process for storing. In many cases it is easier to freeze and schedule regular (e.g. weekly) pick-ups. Some organisations may be able to pick up the same day and maintain the heated or cooled product directly to the end recipient but arranging logistics for small regular donations can be difficult. Note that the existing food banking infrastructure/economics is set up to maximize large volumes of non-perishable items from donors like grocers or manufacturers, so accommodating relatively smaller donations and perishable food can be challenging, but it is worth exploring and is a very rewarding activity.

To find food banks in your area, see The Global Food Banking Network and the following or search online.

This option is not available in many countries due to health and safety legislation. For example in Europe, the laws changed following the outbreak of mad cow disease which has been attributed to feeding animals waste food.

In some parts of the world, however, converting food waste to safe animal feed may soon be an option. Sealed Air, a global leader in cleaning, hygiene and packaging solutions, including food safety programs, has been leading several CSR programmes such as Soap For Hope and Linens For Life in the industry. They are now are piloting a scheme to collect food waste from hotels and convert it to dried food pellets for distribution to poor farmers as animal feed. The pilot takes place in Mauritius in November 2014 and it is hoped to roll this out to the Middle East, Africa and Asia markets.


Check online what services are available to help you recycle your food, such as through the Food Waste Network in the UK

Recycling – composting

Composting is nature’s way of recycling. In this process, organic waste, such as food waste and garden clippings, is biodegraded and turned into valuable fertilizer. In its simplest form, the advantages to composting are twofold; it reduces the amount of solid waste in your trash and, when used in a garden, it fertilizes the soil. If your property has gardens, on-site composting may be an option, alternatively, seek a composting contractor in your area.

To find composting services in the US & Canada, see
For health and safety issues in the UK
Further background information is available at WRAP, Green Hotelier, AH&LA and US EPA
Composting case studies: Soneva Fushi, Four Seasons Philadelphia, Healesville Hotel Melbourne and Copacabana Palace Rio all compost
Energy recovery from food waste

Anerobic digestion

Anaerobic digestion (AD) involves the breakdown of biodegradable material in the absence of oxygen by micro-organisms called methanogens. The process of AD provides a source of renewable energy, since the food waste is broken down to produce biogas (a mixture of methane and carbon dioxide), which is suitable for energy production. The biogas can be used to generate electricity and heat to power on-site equipment and, where the infrastructure exists, the excess electricity can be exported to the National Grid.

Check if collection for AD is possible in your area. For more information and to find UK AD sites, click here or see the UK Anaerobic Digestion and Biogas Association (ADBA)

Biofuel from waste cooking oil

In many places it is a legal requirement that oils and fats from frying processes are collected. Oils can be put to great use by being recycled into biofuels for vehicles. The volumes produced by a hotel can be significant, for example The Savoy London’s kitchen oil recycling scheme to biofuel averages around 1,800 litres per quarter. Many commercial services exist, many which pay for fats, so check what’s available in your locality.

Case study: At Le Manoir au Quat’ Saisons, recycles waste fats (oils and butters from cooking) using a local company called Arrow Oil, who supply Fat Bins (Le Manoir and Arrow Oil split the cost of purchasing the bins 50-50). These are stored in a separate outdoor refrigerated unit to stop unwanted smells, leakages and pests and are collected on a weekly basis. The fat is recycled into biofuel; Arrow Oil then gives us 25p per litre [in 2012] back. The biofuel currently fuels Arrow Oils transportation. Le Manoir comment; “This project was a great success…and results already show a great saving from recycling the fats. It also has eased our manual handling techniques and is a cleaner more efficient system of storage. In 2011 17,290 litres of cooking oil was reclaimed from Le Manoir, this gave our Eco Brigade & staff welfare fund £2247.70 + VAT. Some of this money has then been invested back into kick starting our conversion of our light bulbs into LED bulbs.”
Other technologies

Organic waste disposal systems are available which convert food waste to water, such as this one used by the Hilton Fort Lauderdale. Dehydrators may be used to extract water from food waste to reduce the weight for landfill and fuel to transport.

Optimising your food recycling programme

Get the bins right. Incorrect types and numbers of bins can lead to the wrong waste going in the wrong bin, such as recycling going in with general waste. Adjusting the size of bins or frequency that they are collected can also save money.

Choose the most appropriate waste management solution for your needs. When entering into a contract for food waste recycling, or other waste collections, make sure that the service meets your requirements and won’t incur additional costs. Make sure you ask the right questions.

Ask the waste management contractor for your data. Having data on how much waste is going to landfill, being recycled or going to AD will help to understand current levels of recycling. This information can then be used to identify further opportunities. Monitor how this changes on a regular basis.

Do the maths. Recycling waste doesn’t attract landfill tax and may cost less. If you are already recycling packaging, it’s worth speaking to the waste contractor about other services including food waste collections.

Get staff on your side. Engage staff to recycle more by helping them to understand which waste goes in which bin. It is key for staff to ‘buy in’ to initiatives so that they see the benefits. This will encourage participation and help increase recycling rates.

Work together. Consider working with neighbouring businesses to procure food waste and recycling collections, where appropriate. There may be efficiencies/economies of scale to be made by working together. Where larger scale is needed, see what you can do on a national or industry scale.

The Hospitality Carbon Reduction Forum in the UK is urging hospitality companies to collaborate to optimise cost and the volume of food waste that can be sent to AD processing.

More detail is available and a step by step approach via WRAP’s Food Waste Recycling for your Business, including;

a cost of recycling calculator
questions to ask waste disposal contractors
case studies, detailing issues such as managing food waste in small to Michelin starred kitchens
Resources, such as signage and posters, briefing notes to staff,
…and a lot more!


Park Inn by Radisson launches global ‘INNovation Room’ program

Nine leading hotel management schools gathered in Manchester, England, last weekend for the launch of an international campaign from Park Inn by Radisson that aims to drive innovation around the company’s guest experience whilst supporting the Youth Career Initiative (YCI) for young people at risk of unemployment.The ‘INNovation Room’ is a new program designed to unlock and nurture creativity among hotel management school students. This initiative demonstrates the company’s continuing commitment to cultivating talent in the hospitality sector.

The INNovation Room is a competition for groups of students to pitch ideas to a panel of judges, with the aim of creating a more innovative guest experience at the Park Inn by Radisson hotels. Top hotel management schools from around the world are represented from countries including the Netherlands, South Africa, Switzerland, UK, United Arab Emirates, and the USA.

The company flew in the student teams for a three-day brainstorm and brand immersion session. Each team pitched three ideas to the INNovation Room panel, comprising senior management from Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group and Siri Gomnæs Børsum, Industry Leader at Google, who has worked at the company for nine years in a travel-related capacity.

The panel then selected one idea that each team must develop into a full concept document by mid-November. The five strongest ideas will be put to a public vote on 21 November at A shortlist of two will then be pitched to the panel to identify the final winner.

Rose Anderson, Vice President Branding Park Inn by Radisson, Radisson Blu and Quorvus Collection said: “Guests are at the heart of everything we do as a brand and we are constantly looking to enhance the guest experience. Our INNovation Room campaign will work with some of the brightest minds from the world’s most prestigious hospitality schools to further our commitment to creating unique and memorable guest experiences.”

For each public vote, a donation of $1 will be made to Youth Career Initiative up to a maximum total amount of $25,000. This charity represents the hotel industry’s global solution to youth unemployment, of which Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group is a lead partner. This is in line with the brand’s responsible business program, Adding Color To Lives, that aims to build long term relationships with young people at risk locally, with a focus on developing work and personal skills and on organizing joint community projects.

Fran Hughes, Director, International Tourism Partnership, added “We are really excited about the INNovation Room initiative from Park Inn by Radisson and delighted that the company has chosen to support our Youth Career Initiative (YCI) program.

“It is through the support of hotel partners like Park Inn by Radisson that we are able to help hundreds of disadvantaged young people every year build the skills and self-confidence they need to embark on their careers in hospitality.”



The concept of the boutique hotel has changed perceptions of the hotel market. Mistakenly credited to Ian Schrager and his individual hotels in the Morgans group in the mid-1980’s, the concept is much older. If we are looking to innovative modern iterations of boutique then we must go beyond Schrager to Anouska Hempel’s Blakes Hotel of 1978. Visiting as a designer I was excited by her first use of narrowly focussed downlights,black table cloths and Samurai armour along with the sheer visual drama this created. Schrager started with nightclubs at the end of the 1970’s and took the drama and use of electro-art into Morgans in 1984, bringing boutique to the USA.

What changed with these hotels was that they were controlled by the designer. Without an accountant questioning the value of design they were able to realise an innovative, idiosyncratic, vision of the complete environment which both excited the guest and ultimately became very profitable. Pitched initially at the less than 100 bed luxury end of the market, their impact on individual owners was marked and led to a wave of boutique-style hotels and b&b’s opening that began to impact on the identity and profitability of chain hotels . Barry Sternlicht, now owner of the Louvre/Golden Tulip group was the first CEO of a major brand to drive a vision of a corporate boutique with the very successful development of the ‘W’ brand whilst he was CEO of Starwoods. Reputedly the most financially successful hotels in the Starwood Group, their high RevPAR rapidly had other brands following the same route looking for similar returns. Dare I mention Denizen? No – perhaps not…

Many hotels are uniquely and individually designed, and what set boutiques apart initially was their placing at the luxury end of the market, with high individual service standards as well as highly individual design. What the hype and noise from the general press obscures is that successful boutiques come out of a clear operational and design philosophy and a trusting relationship between hotelier/developer and designer. Whilst boutique branding may take brands into more defined design areas than they would have ventured into before, it is inevitable that controlling the look to match a brand standard will ultimately stifle design innovation and remove the inspirational differences that Hempel and Schrager pointed the way to.


The liquor industry is experiencing 3 seismic changes

Whether you prefer whiskey, vodka, gin, or rum, you may have noticed some recent shifts in the liquor business.

In an international, incredibly broad industry, it’s hard to know which trends are causing seismic shifts, and which are just blips on the radar.

So, Business Insider turned to Gilles Bogaert, CFO of Pernod Ricard, the parent company of brands including Absolut and Jameson.

Here are three trends you need to know about that Bogaert believes are truly changing the liquor industry:

1. ‘Home-tainment’ is a new way to drink.
While restaurants and bars have historically dominated the spirits market, Bogaert says that in 2016, the focus is on discovering new moments in which consumers are drinking.

“At the end of the day, we aim to accompany the good moments of life with consumers,” says Bogaert. “People, more and more, want to have good moments with their friends at home.”

In the US and Europe, the shift is part of a growing movement to blur the line between entertaining at home and going out. In some emerging markets, concerns regarding safety are additionally helping drive at-home drinking culture.
For Pernod Ricard, the challenge goes beyond providing the correct beverages for the opportunity.

Succeeding in “home-tainment” means “not only bringing our bottles there,” says Bogaert. The company is looking into helping organize parties and using social media as a medium to share photos from moments spent entertaining at home.

2. Consumers are getting more savvy.
In recent years, sales of Pernod Ricard’s Absolut Vodka has dropped in the US, while Jameson Irish Whiskey has thrived. The reason for one brand’s slump and the others’ success is, according to Bogaert, how customers interpret the authenticity of the two brands.

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Pernod Ricard

While Jameson’s Irish heritage has been front-and-center, Bogaert acknowledges that Absolut’s marketing in the US got “maybe too emotional,” losing its focus on the actual quality of the product.

Now, the company is refusing to make the same mistake again.

So, instead of releasing new, out-there flavored vodkas and whiskeys, the company is promoting authenticity and quality. Absolut recently release ‘Oak by Absolut,’ vodka made in oak barrels, as well as Absolut Elyx, a “handcrafted luxury” vodka. In October, the vodka brand revamped its bottle branding for the first time it debuted in 1979 to emphasize its authenticity, heritage, and quality.

The quest for authenticity also shaping acquisitions. In late January, Pernod Ricard acquired a majority stake in “hipster-favorite” Monkey 47 gin, despite already owning mainstream gin brands Beefeater and Seagram’s.

“If we want to recruit the new consumers, millennials, we need to adjust a few things in our ways of working,” says Bogaert. “We have a fantastic starting point… all of our brands have a strong heritage and history. Absolut is coming from Sweden — it isn’t coming from just anywhere.”

3. E-commerce is essential.
When asked what he thinks is the top change shaping the liquor industry today, Bogaert had a surprising answer.

“The digital revolution,” he says. “It fundamentally changes the way we interact with the consumer, it changes the way marketing is done, and it can bring us a competitive advantage if we move ahead of the others”

In the next seven to eight years, Bogaert says that Pernod Ricard hopes that 5% of all sales will be through digital channels. The company already has its own digital platforms selling brands in countries including the UK and France, and is utilizing relationships with ecommerce giants like Amazon to further grow sales.

More immediately, social media and online marketing give the company a direct line to customers. Pernod Ricard can quickly respond to consumer habits and concerns, as well as meeting consumers where they already are. That, according to Bogaert, is an even bigger shift than any drinker’s preference for whiskey or vodka.


Traversing the best wine countries in Africa

The mention of wine for many, brings a lot of imaginations especially those of luxury, vineyards, dining and wining. For others, the fancies go all the way to romantically exotic destinations, fondly sipping glasses of some red or white wine with their inamorata(o)s. For wine lovers planning to turn their flight of fancy into reality, here are Africa’s best wine countries to consider for your bucket list.

South Africa

South Africa leads in having some of the best wine destinations not just in Africa but also in the entire world, having been identified as a wine growing country since the late 17th century. Traversing the country’s thousands of vineyards, some whose history dates back to 1659, will create a completely enticing world whose sheer beauty immerses you into an unforgettable adventure. From the Constantia wine valley located at the foot of the Constantiaberg Mountain, to the Stellenbosch Winelands which is the second oldest wine producing region, sample some of the best wines that SA has to offer. Traverse through the ancient settler’s town of ‘Paarl’, not forgetting the Franschhoek Wine Valley and experience its homely atmosphere and lush scenery.

If you like, go on a binge and once in awhile losing yourself to the wine world. The South African wine valleys are also child friendly, offering great play fields for your little ones. Whether seeking a solo encounter, a romantic getaway or a family bonding wine indulging experience, South Africa should top your list. Gourmet foods are available and accommodation to suite every style.


Argued to be the second largest wine country in Africa, Algeria is a close rival of South Africa also seeking to claim its position as a top wine producing destination in the continent. The Hauts Plateaux region is a force to be reckoned with, for remaining steady in the production of Algerian red and white wines including Algiers, Coteaux De Mascara, D’hara, Coteaux De Tlemcen Chlef and Béjaïa; all favorites of many connoisseurs of wine. Take a tour of the wine cellars, sample the various tastes and get treated to alluring views of the country’s dense vineyards.


Is Rose Wine your most favorite of them all? Tunisia is the best African country you can possibly experience this magical red wine, made from a variety of red grapes including Grenache, Clairette, Cinsaut Mourvèdre, Carignan, Syrah, Merlot and Alicante Bouschet. If red in not your thing, feel the white’s touch of lost paradise from the Muscat of Alexandria, Pedro Ximenez and Chardonnay grapes. The French flavor from Tunisia’s wine is everything you would like to sample in the wine world.


Morocco is yet another wine producing African country and while the industry is said to have a long way to go, it remains a major destination for wine lovers. Visit the Atlas Mountains that command quite a share of fame in producing renowned wines in the country. White is more common, while red is still grown in some parts of Morocco.

Cape Verde

It is not so popular with wine production, since only the Chã das Caldeiras, a small community in the Fogo Island produces wine. Yet, you can find some of the best red and white wines in Cape Verde that will activate your smell and taste glands with the brut.


Few people know Ethiopia as a wine country, yet Ethiopian wine enthusiasts have since 1998 been enjoying locally produced wine from Ziway, a small region in the Horn of Africa. visit the country’s Rift Valley and have a chance to indulge in both red and white wine from Bordeaux, whose consumption goes well beyond the Ethiopian borders. Enjoy the scenic lakes enclosed by an impenetrable woodland with thrilling bird life for your adventure.


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Sleep 2016 Event to Take Place in London November 22nd and 23rd

Comprising a conference program, innovative design installations, and an exhibition of cutting-edge products specifically aimed at well-designed hotels, Sleep—Europe’s hotel design and development event—attracts influential speakers, creative talent, and leading contract brands from around the world to London’s Business Design Centre. As a special focus at this year’s event, taking place November 22nd and 23rd, the science behind understanding today’s diverse hotel guests will be explored through conference sessions and built concept guestrooms by international design companies.

The Sleep Set design competition is an event highlight that attracts international design companies and is widely recognized for challenging convention. For this year’s theme, the Science of Tribes, Sleep is partnering with scientists from social science research consultancy the SINUS-Institute to look at how different groups of people across the world can be identified by their shared values, tastes, and attitudes—and how this can be applied to our understanding of today’s hotel guests. The London offices of Aukett Swanke and Gensler, Singapore-based WOW Architects, Tokyo-based Mitsui Designtec, and London-based Studio PROOF are each creating a guestroom for a different “tribe.” Following an introductory presentation by SINUS, the designers will have an opportunity to explain their concepts before a panel of judges in front of a conference audience, with the winner announced at the installations.

The complimentary conference sessions also reflect a global perspective and speaker lineup, attracting the likes of design legend Adam D. Tihany, who will participate in a panel discussion on cruise hotels along with Rick Meadows, president of Seabourn Cruise Line and Cunard North America, and Christian Schönrock of Costa Group—looking at what it takes to bring innovative design to life on a new vessel.

A panel of curators, including Alex Toledano of Los Angeles-based Visto Images and Sune Nordgren, curator at Nordic Hotels & Resorts, will reveal how thoughtfully curated art can strengthen a hotel’s brand narrative. A discussion on the future of wellness looks at how successful hotel spas are in meeting new consumer aspirations and how good design can support mind and body in all our built environments—with views from Sue Harmsworth, CEO of ESPA; Clodagh, founder of New York-based Clodagh Designs and designer of award-winning Six Senses Douro Valley in Portugal; Kevin Underwood, principal at HKS; and Aiden Walker, author of Ecology of the Soul.

Two popular roundtable sessions will include one hosted by professionals from the hotel development, owner, investor, and operator sectors, while the other will offer practical tips from experts on a range of specialties including lighting design, trends in materials, F&B concepts, and curating music for a memorable hotel stay. In a penultimate session on day two, Vince Stroop, principal at New York-based Stonehill & Taylor, joins Nick van Marken, head of hospitality at Deloitte UK and Matthias Arnold from the SINUS-Institute to analyze the hopes and fears for the industry in a globalized and less certain world.

Additional offerings at Sleep include an Immersive Reality Lounge featuring the recently launched HTC Vive—the newest Oculus Rift headset—and the latest Sublime Portal, a shared immersion experience for visitors. This fast-evolving technology is set to transform the design process, providing a critical stage between the drawing board and built space, enabling stakeholders to explore concepts and solutions at one-to-one scale.


6 Mega-Trends in Hotel Technology

Technology has become critical to attracting and retaining hotel guests, and today that means investing in a wide range of solutions that create immediate and personal engagement. With rising expectations, surprise and delight has been replaced by expected and assumed. Reservations must be easily made via any smart device, guestrooms must facilitate any type of content, networks need to be rock-solid, and data is now your most valuable asset.

To meet escalating guest expectations, 54% of hotels will spend more on technology this year, according to HT’s 2016 Lodging Technology Study. Their biggest priorities for technology spending, in order, are: payment security, guest room tech, bandwidth, and mobile engagement (see fig. 1 below).

Mobile solutions in particular will dominate the list of capital investments this year — six of the top new rollouts have a mobile component, ranging from mobile keys, to mobile payments, to location-based technology (see fig. 2 below). Also high on to-do lists are improving data accessibility and security.

In this mega-trends special report, Hospitality Technology pulls together data from its 2016 Lodging Technology Study, combined with insight from industry thought leaders and hoteliers, to find more about out what’s shaping technology spending today.


1) Mobile ubiquity. “Drop the expectation that we have offline and online customers,” counselled travel industry analyst Henry Harteveldt at HTNG’s 2016 North American Conference in March. Harteveldt, a former Forrester analyst, recently founded Atmosphere Research Group ( and is arguably one of the world’s most sought-after travel industry advisors. “Mobile has produced a permanent sense of immediacy. It’s changing forever how our guests interact with us and how they expect us to interact with them.”

Indeed — from mobile bookings, to check-in options, to room access — mobile dominates the list of top new technology rollouts in 2016. Hotel-branded customer mobile apps are poised for ubiquity, with 84% of operators planning to have the technology within the next 18 months. In the same time frame, about one quarter of hotels plan to deploy mobile keys.

In addition to simplicity for guests, mobile room access can make financial sense. For Village Hotels (, a UK brand with 28 properties attached to large gyms, mobile check-in and mobile key were added for financial reasons. The brand’s hetras ( cloud-based property management system interfaces with a mobile key system from Kaba (

According to Rob Paterson, commercial director for Village Hotels, the brand was seeking to align its four-star costs with its three-star status. Village Hotels that offer mobile check-in/keys or kiosks are operating more efficiently, with no lines, Paterson says; the rest will rollout weekly this year. Village has found that “pre-arrival communication is pretty important to explain the whole process, because it’s not common today,” says Paterson, along with on-property signage. Security is actually enhanced because the hotel has more info on the guest possessing the key, he adds, and ensuring payment pre-arrival is essential.

2. Integrating mobile data. Hotels have long amassed data but underused it. Data is the most valuable asset for many brands, and tapping into it will be a priority to deliver the personalization that travelers want. “If guests don’t find what they want from you and you aren’t leveraging your data in the right way to serve them, they will move onto a competitor,” says Harteveldt. Mobile technology is exponentially increasing those data inputs.

Nearly 80% of all data today already has a location-based element, according to The Location Based Marketing Association (LMBA; “Location has become the new ‘cookie’,” says LMBA founder and president Asif R. Khan. According to HT research, 30% of hotels plan to roll out location-based technology in 2016. Using mobile data together with reservation information from the PMS has helped Fontainebleau Miami ( upsell guests through pre-arrival and checkout offers, enabling the resort to optimize room revenue by inviting guests to arrive early or stay late for an additional fee. According to the resorts’ mobile check-in provider StayNTouch (, 20% to 40% of guests select mobile check-in, and the resort saw a 141% ROI from late checkout offers in the first 30 days. Balancing early check-ins against actual arrival times also helps hotels better manage room availability, the solution provider says.

3. Enabling guestroom tech. Once a technology playground of on-demand content and flat screen TVs, the guestroom has become a challenging area for hotel technology. More than half of hotels (56%) say that guestroom technology upgrades will be a priority this year. The most activity inside the guestroom will be to boost bandwidth — 36% of hotels have allocated resources for this in 2016—in order to support the content and devices that guests are carrying with them. Hoteliers are also investing in delivery platforms to elevate the in-room experience and catch up to what guests have at home. That means bigger, better TVs that interface easily with guest mobile devices for a great viewing experience, says Mike Blake, CEO, HTNG ( About one in four hotels will upgrade flat screens and enhance their HD content.

4. Future-proofing networks. With guests sporting their own mobile devices, delivering standout guest room and mobile experiences is now about delivering robust, secure and accessible infrastructure. “The number one thing guests want is for their WiFi to work,” according to HTNG’s Blake. Hoteliers are increasing their coverage and updating their networks to accommodate these demands—adding bandwidth will be a top priority for 45% of hotels in 2016, and it’s tied for first place as the largest budget line item (along with property management systems).

Fiber, or passive optical LAN, is quickly becoming the standard for new builds and retrofits, either all the way to the room or as part of fiber/copper hybrid networks. According to Corning ( and VT Group (, rather than running new cabling every four to five years, hotels can tap fiber’s high capacity to install once and gain huge increases in capacity and reach, since unlike copper, bandwidth is unlimited and does not degrade over distance. A single fiber optic cable can replace separate wiring for WiFi and cellular backhaul, building controls and triple-play networks, freeing up space and increasing performance while enabling parallel redundancy.

At Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group (, vice president of technology David Heckaman and his colleagues considered multiple hybrid networking models for the one to two construction projects the brand undertakes each year, but found fiber to the room was equal or lower cost across geographies. “Fiber used to be expensive to terminate, but it has come down in price and is much simpler to terminate now than copper,” particularly with the availability of pre-terminated wiring closets, Heckaman says. With the need for as many as eight ports per room, Mandarin Oriental worked with Corning to select dedicated active switches for each room, while other hotels choose in-room access points as the switch. “Our goal across the brand is to make sure from an infrastructure standpoint that we always leave the bandwidth chokepoint at the back door, at the hand-off to the ISP,” says Heckaman.

Another factor supporting fiber is that no one wants to log into WiFi just to open their door. VT Group’s hotel clients are increasingly investing in DAS solutions such as Corning’s fiber for in-building cellular. Mandarin Oriental also sees fiber as providing the infrastructure to support future use of small/microcell designs and help the brand keep up with evolving cellular network technology.

5. Beefing up security. With hackers becoming increasingly sophisticated and a recent rise in crypto-ransomware attacks, “people’s attitudes toward security are totally changed, and this area is highly funded,” says HTNG’s Blake. Security is garnering investment particularly as payment becomes increasingly mobile and new non-bank payment vehicles emerge. Providing for more secure payments and data is the top objective driving technology investments for the hotels in HT’s study. It’ll receive about 12% of overall IT budgets this year, which is a 25% budget increase over the year prior. Guest privacy in general is a growing challenge with the addition of mobile and social channels, and the increasing sophistication of data piracy is drawing increased investment in intrusion detection and prevention.

6. Energy conservation. Among capital IT rollouts planned for 2016, 20% of operators plan to focus on energy management. For most hotels, energy is among the top three largest costs, so efficiency efforts are an attractive proposition in order to yield financial savings. Intelligent technologies are helping hotels monitor and report on energy consumption. At the end of 2015, Hilton Worldwide ( became the first hotel company to achieve Superior Energy Performance certification from the Department of Energy for energy management at three properties.

Hilton has deployed its proprietary measurement platform, LightStay, across 4,500+ hotels. By gathering data from across its global portfolio, the company is able to analyze how hotels are managing energy performance and drive improvements. In addition to energy, the company has set targets in the areas of water conservation, waste diversion and carbon reduction.

Interel ( nabbed its second TechOvation award from HTNG for its TCP/IP-based Water Management System. In addition to giving guests instant control over water flow and temperature, the system is IoT and big data-enabled to deliver monitoring, while creating usage and consumption statistics that help to optimize settings. The ability to program water control settings, including an “eco” mode that automatically engages energy-efficient settings, provides operators with savings, leading to ROI.

The Future is Now: 5 Next-Gen Technologies with Value Today

Already seeing some use, these five technologies are likely to garner more share of the IT budget as operators find value in customer engagement and ROI.

IoT – Hospitality use of Internet of Things technology can already be seen in Disney’s MagicBands and guest room control systems, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. IoT will expand to enhance both guest experience and operations efficiency in everything from deploying staff where guests are congregating to preventing equipment breakdowns. On exhibit at CES this year, for example, was a sensor that measured UV risk at its specific location and advised when to reapply sun-screen; imagine this sensor embedded into a hotel pool chair.

Wireless charging. Already 41% of properties offer in-room charging stations, but charging is going wireless, such as Kube Systems ( chargers using the Qi standard in 29 Marriott lobbies. The next generation is longer-range wireless charging such as TechNovator’s ( XE, which uses resonant electromagnetic fields to charge multiple phones with special cases up to 17 feet away.

Virtual reality. Last Fall Marriott piloted a virtual reality headsets program at two properties that enabled guests to take virtual trips to exotic locations. HTNG’s Blake envisions using VR glasses and apps to enable prospective guests to tour conference spaces and guest rooms. In HT’s study, 14% of hoteliers said they think personal holograms have real-world potential as property concierges/guides.

Robotics. A robot as the hotel mascot? It’s already happening, and in fact 22% of hotels in HT’s study said robots have real potential in this industry. Relay robotic concierge from Savioke ( was named first runner-up “Most Innovative Hospitality Technology” at HTNG’s 2016 TechOvation Awards. Relay autonomously delivers amenities to guest rooms, and the technology is already being used at select Aloft Hotels ( In a similar move, Hilton Worldwide ( has teamed with IBM ( to pilot its robot concierge, “Connie.” Connie uses cognitive technology to process information as it interacts with guests, enabling it to adapt and improve recommendations as it learns.

Interactive walls. Gesture-controlled, interactive walls received 36% of respondents’ votes for futuristic technology most likely to take hold. The Renaissance New York Midtown Hotel (, which is set to open in the spring of 2016, will feature interactive digital displays created by Montreal-based digital design firm Réalisations Inc. ( in public spaces. Using a variety of technology including motion detectors, projectors and 3D cameras, the firm created a “living” wall that will interact with guests and respond to their movement.