Thursday, June 25, 2015

HOTEL ROBOT BELL HOPPS & BUTLERS

robot2I found the Aloft Brussels Schuman Hotel, similar to Aloft hotels in the USA apart from being much more expensive and less helpful staff.—I know that all hotels in Europe are more expensive than most US cities, so I thought I would try the funky Brand, though I don’t like that they have showers and no bath tubs. It is conveniently located in the center of Brussels, adjacent to the European Parliament and Schumann Palace. The bustling traffic was exhausting in this area and it took another half an hour to drive to the very city center, Square Grand Place (Grote Markt) surrounded by opulent guildhalls and Gabled edifices.

The hotel is about 6 years old and full of twenty somethings staff in blue jeans. That's not a bad thing, but we are a little older and could not help smiling at their young arrogance. Most of them had never worked in the hospitality industry, or any industry at all. It was difficult to get in to the hotel parking, where they charge about $35 overnight, so it is not a good idea to rent a car. The Aloft is easy to reach near the Metro station Schuman (EU quarter). If you fly in to BRU, the Airport is 40 minutes from the hotel, by train, then it is a two minute walk from Schuman Station.

robot1In the news, today in Belgium is the much touted RoboHotelier! The Marriott Hotel Ghent, has employed a new “employee”. His name is Mario, a “human” robot. Mario will assist at the front desk.

Robot Mario can hand you your room key when you check-in. During a conference, he can even assist with your PowerPoint presentations, or he can baby sit in the play area. Don’t know if I believe that this is possible? Some mini-humans can be tricky.

According to Roger Langhout, the Marriott hotel manager, Mario will be very useful at meetings and conferences and this will be good for a business hotel. Mario will not replace a “human” employee and guests can choose if they would like to use Mario’s services, or not.

Mario even held his own press conference and performed a dance. He is not the first Robot to be utilized in hotels. The Aloft and the healthcare service have been using them for some time. California's Silicon Valley was the pilot Robot, as may be expected from the tech-savvy area. They have 2 to deliver towels and other necessities to guests. This Aloft Hotel in Cupertino, has 2 robotic "Botlrs," named ALO, made by Savioke. Inspired by Star Wars' R2D2.They have been working there, as butlers since last year. When a guest calls the front, desk asking for something, -- say a bottle of water or a toothbrush, employees load up the basket and send the Robo butler to the room. Mario was manufactured by the Flemish company QBMT in Oostende. They produce more than 100 robots called “Zora”, used in the healthcare sector in Belgium, The Netherlands, France and Switzerland

You don’t have to put up with rude service from a Robot, but I wonder if you have to tip the Robot bellboy porter, assisting patrons with their luggage?

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Star Alliance Airline Lounges

I was so glad to make a pit stop at Munich Airport Lounges to regroup and enjoy the Bavarian hospitality, the city of Munich, known locally as M√ľnchen, has been a refuge for travelers since the time that the monks provided lodging to pilgrims in the 11th Century. Munich means "by the monks". Derived from the monks of the Benedictine order.

As I mentioned in my previous post, it is nice to have Elite status to get into Airline lounges for free, Star Alliance members have access to the Lufthansa lounges and as you can see in my photo below, the Lufthansa lounges are really nice!

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You can de-stress in the relaxing Airline Club lounge. You can buy a lounge membership or can get in for free if you have Elite United Platinum Premier 1K status. Lounge access when traveling internationally is for Gold Platinum and 1K United and Star Alliance members. Munich also has a Priority Pass lounge in T2-D (Schengen Area) I visited on a previous trip. Priority is a paid Annual membership, and can be used, no matter which airline you fly.  The advantage of a break to feel calm amongst the airport chaos is worth the cost.

The best airport lounge in the world that I have visited is the Lufthansa First class Lounge in Frankfurt. LufthansaI could easily spend a week there in the Spa and eating the exquisite food. HEAVEN mmm…

Though, my newest favorite lounge is the new United lounge at Heathrow Airport,

The United Global First Lounge and the United Club occupy a large area of space and are located near the airline's gates in T2. I enjoyed sitting at the extremely long bar, to refresh. It’s a lounge conducive to relaxing or getting work done and if you are hungry there is a buffet area where I grabbed some delicious Curry and then snuggled up in the quiet zone on a sofa with privacy drapes.

I still miss the Continental Airlines lounge at LAX because, years ago they had a massage chair in the lounge. In June 2015 The Star Alliance Lounge in the Tom Bradley International Terminal (TBIT) of Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) has been voted best Alliance Lounge by Skytrax.

See you in one of them, passing ships ….