Marriott Unveils 'Smart' Hotel Room Prototypes, With Personalized Presets and Voice Control

Company plans to add technology to hotel rooms over next few years


Joe Zimmermann

A new hotel room prototype from Marriott would let guests control everything from the temperature of the shower to the color of the light with the sound of their voice.

The “smart” hotel rooms, which the company previewed in its corporate headquarters in Bethesda on Tuesday, include devices and amenities that respond to individual guests and are customizable based on their preferences. The rooms are designed as an application of the Internet of Things—the connection of physical devices in a network.

"We don't want to break what is working in hotels. We just want to add a user-friendly experience," said Pete Horton, vice president of business development of Legrand, a partner with Marriott in the project.

Marriott International officials presented two rooms Tuesday—one mimicking a standard hotel room that could be refurbished to allow for more technological control and another showing a room built from scratch to fully implement the latest advancements.

Ufuk Keskin, a senior manager in Global Design at Marriott, said the project was a result of everyday devices that are becoming more connected and responsive.

“We predict that 20 billion of these devices will be connected to each other within five years, so we wanted to get ahead of that to imagine how that would affect guest experience in our hotels,” he said.

The room presets would be based on customers’ loyalty accounts with Marriott, allowing them to set their preferences before they arrive. That way, Marriott spokesman Brendan McManus said, they could have everything as they want it when they arrive in the room: the temperature, brightness, even whether the drapes are open.

The same presets could be saved for whatever Marriott brand hotel they stay at. The company owns brands such as Ritz-Carlton, Gaylord, Sheraton, Westin and Fairfield Inn.

Once the guests arrive, they can set the atmosphere to their liking by the turn of a switch or voice commands. Horton demonstrated this by telling an Amazon Alexa, which a room would have, to heat the shower to a specific temperature and setting the room setting to “reading light”—after which the lights got whiter and softer.

The more advanced room included a responsive mirror that could be programmed to demonstrate the positions of a yoga routine. The mirror was also a screen that laid out programmable yoga poses that a guest could use as a reference for exercise.

The mini-fridge could come stocked with items guests select or preset items they want at every hotel they stay at.

McManus said the company plans to start implementing more technology into its hotel rooms gradually and hopes to have some fully connective rooms available by the time it opens its new headquarters in downtown Bethesda in 2022.

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