The Next Gen Traveler
We give our guests everything they need, and nothing they don’t!
Brendan Daly, General Manager Yotel Singapore
Set in the heart of the CBD and shopping district of Singapore, just off Orchard Road, is a hotel that takes you into the future. Rather than wide winding staircases, over-sized flower arrangements and chandeliers signifying grandeur, you’re met with a lobby that could easily be mistaken for an airport check-in lounge. There are robots, self-check-in kiosks, and if you need assistance, a crew of friendly faces. Not what you usually expect, but expectations are beyond met.
YOTEL is a relatively new hotel brand, that has totally Maria Kondo’ed the typical hotel design. The result is functional and efficient, with of touch sci-fi, Swiss space-saving brilliance. Zero clutter combined with clever use of technology, giving you an experience that is a little bit now… and a whole lot wow.
According to Daly, "having the robots and kiosks do all the menial tasks, it allows reception crew to genuinely interact with the guests.
The automated kiosks are put in place to allow guests to check-in and out electronically saving them time waiting in line. The crew can turn their attention toward interacting with the guests more meaningfully. Mission Control (front desk) staff are also available 24/7 to assists guests who prefer to check-in manually."
While assisting you, staff can chat and have real, undistracted interaction. It's not just a cursory glance and reaction smile as they hand back your passport and give you your room key, well, robot style!
From the staff’s perspective, it is genius. They all agree to having greater job satisfaction and they feel they have more opportunity to usitlise and hone their skill set. The robots take away the mundane tasks so they can be hospitable – the very reason they were drawn to a career in hospitality in the first place – they are people people!
This also contributes to workplace wellness and greater job satisfaction. There is more focus on up-skilling, then downskilling. The use of intelligent automation has not only helped to plug the service gap in the hospitality industry, it also frees staff to do further training and allows for more meaningful professional development of the crew.
Meet Yoshi & Yolanda
I first met Yolanda getting in the lift as she was getting out. She batted her eye lashes at me, and then whizzed by with a couple of towels and cold water. Yolanda is one of the two robots responsible for delivering extra room amenities when requested by guests. She was making a delivery to a room on my floor. Efficient, yes. Quirky, yes. Cause for a double take, absolutely.
Giving the robots names has certainly personalised them, and they do have personalities. Yoshi, he’s a little shy, but will always say hello. Yolanda, sassy with an air of importance. Both are very cute and a huge hit with the guests.
While the robots were integrated into the properties to carry out automated tasks, they have become popular forms of entertainment and are a definite talking point.
There is also the omelet making robot at the egg station who helps ease congestion at breakfast time. You choose your ingredients, and he/she will prepare your omelet, even plating it up for you. If I had a bigger bag, it would be coming home with me – can do pancakes too!
The dining area is for breakfast by morning and bar by night. It’s a selection of bench seating, communal tables and lots of little alcoves for privacy if you need. The concept is to create a community among the guests hence the name, Komyuniti. It feels a bit like a beach club in the centre of a city. Instead of the usual hotel breakfast sounds of clanging of pans and gurgle of a coffee machine, you hear laughter, conversation, and the odd splash or squeal from the pool.
Even the elevators are designed to ignite conversation and connection. If you’re not riding with a robot, which in itself is a conversation starter, the range of music, not at all subtle, provokes smiles and nods. It's definitely not your typical elevator music - anything from the classics to past hits from each decade. There wasn't a single time riding in the elevator where I didn’t know the song or, on occasion, participated in a sing-along.
So, who is it for?
The YOTELiers refer to their guests as Generation Yo! Not an age, rather a mindset. Those who embrace technology. And while there is extremely clever use of technology there is also a huge emphasis on connection. Connection that is of the old-school kind. Eye ball to eye ball, real gestures and authentic emotional reactions. Anyone else see the irony?
The use of technology is very clever. It’s not just the robots and the self-check-in kiosks, but also the lighting, the beds, and the built in apps on the TV.
If you are a traveler who prefers to spend time exploring the destination rather than hiding out in the hotel room, you will love YOTEL. If you’re a business traveler and need superfast wifi and a comfortable bed, then YOTEL. If you’re a family looking for an affordable option but everything at your doorstep, again YOTEL. Or, if you’re like me, you’re after experiences, uniqueness, warmth of people, a gym, good food and a place that creates memories, then YOTEL ticks all those boxes.
It’s well documented that removing clutter and ‘noise’ makes for a more restful mind (and a better night’s sleep). By noise, it’s not just the auditory, but the noise of trinkets and paintings and ornaments to supposedly make you feel at home.
YOTEL have mastered the art of making the most of small spaces, providing everything you need, in a calm and quiet way. Rather than calling the rooms ‘suites’, they call them cabins. The design of these cabins is based on minimalism proving you don’t need a room full of furniture and clutter for it to feel like home.
The simplest way to describe minimalism is when you remove excess ‘stuff’ from your life in order to become more mindful of other aspects of your life. The less is more approach. While the rooms, I mean Cabins, are small, they are very functional and not at all confined.
The bed, YOTEL’s signature adjustable SmartBed™, is seriously the best bed I have ever slept in. I can see why it has won the awards it has. I have never slept as soundly or as deeply as I had in that bed. According to Daly, the beds were a happy accident. They had to be custom made to fit the cabins. They needed to be engineered to meet the criteria of a comfortable lounge that converted to a bed.
Unlike most sofa-come-beds, which tend to be a poor substitute for both, the SmartBed™ is exceptional… at being both. With a flick of a switch, it seamlessly turns from a lounge to a bed. I’m told the mattresses are made by Serta incorporating memory foam, which moulds to the contours of your body for added comfort. I’m not sure what that means exactly, however translation… best sleep. Ever!
What I learned, waking up with pure clarity, is minimalism helps you stay centered around simple things in amongst a world fueled by excess and time restraints. It isn’t just about getting rid of your belongings until there’s nothing left, it’s finding that minimalist sweet spot. The cabins have hit a bulls-eye. While the beds are super comfortable, I can’t help but wonder was the clarity a result of the lack of clutter?
Wellness Without Actually Selling It!
Wellness is sprinkled like eco-friendly glitter throughout the hotel. While they don’t go out of their way to ‘sell’ it…. It simply happens. And that’s my favourite kind of wellness!
The ‘feel good factor’ that seeps in from the music in the elevators, the smile you see on guests face when Yolanda or Yoshi bring their room service, or the simple calm ‘vibe’ the hotel exudes… it just is.
Another well documented fact is that colour can enhance or impact mood. Purple is a colour associated with peace and calm, and a colour used tastefully throughout the hotel. The cabins are also fitted with colour-changing mood lighting so you can find a setting that suits your mood, or vice versa!
The air-conditioning is set back ever so slightly to preserve energy and there is a plan to remove single-use plastic in the next couple of years by installing water stations.
Rather than wasting precious environmental resources on a cleaning your room each day, they offer an $8 bar credit if you opt to leave your room unserviced. Amazing how tidy a minimalist cabin remains!
And, if after turning the mood lighting on, easing the lounge to bed mode and being centred with less, you still can’t sleep, the TV will help. There are three TV Channels - mind, yawn and relax that will take you through a serious of breathing or meditation techniques that will help soothe you into a nice peaceful sleep.
Hard to belive this clever use of technology actually helps you reconnect and focus on what's really important - YOu!
“You have succeeded in life when all you really want is only what you really need.”
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