17 September 2018
Author: Alyson Krueger
Guests staying at five-star The Corinthia Hotel London — a property steps away from Trafalgar Square — get access to high-end amenities. Starting this summer they get an additional perk: their very own futurist, an expert who predicts upcoming trends.
Over afternoon tea or at happy hour, the team of futurists — dressed in white lab coats that read “Future Laboratory” — sit down with guests and answer any questions guests might have about the future of everything from cocktails to cities.
Additionally, guests can attend breakfast briefings, evening cocktail soirees or “dare to know dinners” where futurists arrange panels and discussions on topics ranging from feminism to cryptocurrency. The team also leave thought-provoking books in some guest rooms and maps of off-the-grid places to visit in London that will soon be new hot spots.
“While other hotels boast about being a fashion hotel or the grand hotel, we want to be the smart hotel,” said Chris Sanderson, who runs the team of futurists. “We want to help our guests think that just because they are in a great hotel, doesn’t mean they have to turn their brain off; they have mind fodder.”
Since 2016 W Hotels has staged over 50 talks around the globe that highlight female entrepreneurs. Titled “What She Said,” the series has been held in predictable locations like New York City and Los Angeles — but also in Amman, Jordan, and Dubai, where gender equality is less pronounced and the topic is more controversial.
“It’s a way people can emotionally connect with our brand and feel more part of it,” said Anthony Ingham, W Hotel Group’s global brand leader.
Like many travelers, Katherine Dudas, a 25-year-old comedy writer based in Los Angeles, didn’t even know she could go to hotels to be mentally stimulated. “I really only went to hotels when I was traveling or really just for a place or a place to sleep.”
But after hearing Ava DuVernay, the director of “Selma" and “A Wrinkle in Time,” speak at the W Hollywood, she can’t wait to return to the property. “I couldn’t believe this quality of an event took place in a hotel. It felt like the kind of event I should have paid hundreds and hundreds of dollars to attend,” she said.
One & Only Reethi Rah is a five-star property in the Maldives. Because guests mostly go there to de-stress and relax, the resort thought they would help them do just that. They have done that with a speaker series where healing experts offer information on Chinese medicine, acupuncture or meditation. The idea is that the hotel is helping guests do what they ready came to do: restore themselves.
AC Hotels, a Spanish hotel group with over 140 properties geared toward entrepreneurs, has a different focus: they teach guests about the property in which they are currently staying. “We call it Unpacked because we are dissecting a beautiful hotel experience for you,” said Benoit Racle, the brand director. “It’s like we are taking every guest on a private tour.”
In their hotel rooms guests can watch videos with a scent-maker talking about the hotel’s special perfume, its architect talking about its design, even its chef talking about the special meat slicer he uses.
There are also live gatherings where experts talk about lifestyle and hospitality. The inaugural evening in Times Square attracted 200 people and included speakers like Dan Barasch, one of the minds behind The Lowline, a proposal for an underground park in New York City’s Lower East Side. Guests attended a cocktail reception after the talk, and after future events, they will play a card game with different conversational prompts on them like “What is a Genius?”
Kateland Turner, a 27-year-old senior account manager at an experiential marketing agency in New York City, said the speakers were so interesting, she took some ideas to work with her the next day.
“I know hotels are increasingly becoming more than places to just rest your head, but this was the first time I had seen something like this that was not just fun, but intellectually stimulating and additive to my work life,” she said.
This article was originally posted on The New York Times.
To discover the events we've got lined up as Futurists-in-Residence at the Corinthia Hotel London, click here.