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Checking into tomorrow’s hotel today

The room that can sense your mood. Five + Sensotel

What do you get when you cross clean underwear with translucent Plexiglas and a curtain of rain? The answer: the hotel room of the future.

Leading designers, furnisher manufacturers and fragrance experts have come together to assemble the futuristic hotel at the Foroom exhibition space in Willisau.

Walking across undulating sand dunes, I crush thousands of microscopic capsules buried just beneath the surface, releasing subtle fragrances into the air. Do I smell “clean underwear” or is it a whiff of “woodpecker”?

I’ve just entered the hotel room of the future and my senses are excited but rather confused.

The dunes are really wall-to-wall carpeting made of tufted wool and the names of the scents the playful invention of a flavour and fragrance company.

The creators of this New Age space are toying with my perceptions and that is their aim. The exhibition in the town of Willisau near Lucerne showcases a new hotel concept combining the latest mod cons with the human desire to get back to nature.

Called “Five + Sensotel”, it is a platform for top Swiss and international furnishers and designers to show that rooms should be able to adapt to the guest as much as the guest has to adapt to his or her temporary lodging.

Suit mood

“We’ve created a unique ambience through our choice of materials and colours,” says Markus Kirchhofer, manager of Bel Etage, the Swiss firm that put together the future hotel room along with the Berlin-based architect and interior designer, Yasmine Mahmoudieh.

A networked multimedia system combines light and sound to allow guests to change the atmosphere to suit their mood.

Fragrances are woven into the fabric of the carpet or can be released from a small electronic device resembling a portable CD player by pushing a button.

Plexiglas dividers provide for a seamless transition from the bedroom to the bathroom. “This material is new to hotel design and helps create a beautiful ambience and accentuates the lighting,” says Edith Zankl, head of Foroom.

Guests can enter the bathtub by stepping across a floor of pebbles or walk through a “curtain of rain” – or at least a simulated version created by the installation of a large rectangular shower panel in the ceiling.

Sunrise and sunset

“Light is an essential element used to alter the mood,” Kirchhofer says of a room where the right start or finish to a person’s day is provided by lighting effects imitating sunrises and sunsets.

“We’ve created three basic moods and most guests will find something to their liking”.

“I think that someone who is on the road a lot expects a high standard of comfort and conveniences but they have to be simple to use – no more than two or three controls to alter the mood,” he adds.

Foroom’s Zankl says that there has been a great interest in the project from hotel owners and managers as well as private individuals.

“I didn’t have very high expectations when I went to see the exhibition,” says Christoph Schlosser, speaking from his hotel in the resort in Flims, the five-star Park Hotel Waldhaus.

“But I was positively surprised how the five senses were addressed.”

Schlosser says the scent concept could work well in his hotel’s spa and has already entered into discussions with the flavour and fragrance company.

He warns, however, that there is the danger of too much of a good thing. “We have to take care not to overwhelm the senses,” he says.

The organisers of Five + Sensotel intend to move the exhibition to London and Dubai later in the year.

swissinfo, Dale Bechtel in Willisau

The exhibition, Five + Sensotel, is a joint project of international and Swiss designers and manufacturers in the furnishings industry:
Bel Etage (German) planning and architectural concepts.
Yasmine Mahmoudieh architect and interior design.
création baumann fabrics.
Dornbracht bathroom fittings and interiors.
Happy beds.
team by wellis furniture.
Tisca Tiara carpets.
Zumtobel Staff lighting.

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