This hotel has rooms that clean themselves

STAY in a high-tech hotel today and you might see the day’s headlines in your full-length mirror or have a personal trainer on-demand when you turn on the television.

If you’re staying at Copenhagen’s just-opened Hotel Ottilia, on the other hand, you might have a room that fully disinfects itself each morning without housekeeping lifting a finger.

The hotel has partnered with Danish company ACT.Global in order to use its proprietary ACT CleanCoat technology, which is transparent, odourless, and activated by sunlight. The main ingredient, titanium dioxide, is also found in sunscreen.

In tests from national research organizations such as Denmark’s National Research Centre for the Working Environment, the antibacterial spray has been shown to break down microbes that range from influenza and salmonella to mold spores and allergens. Cover a room like invisible insulation, and it can purify the air for up to a year, removing contaminants such as cigarette smoke or other odours.

“We’ve been testing this system for two years,” says Karim Nielsen, Chief Executive Officer of Brockner Hotels, the Ottilia’s parent company. He compares the invisible coating technology to Teflon and first trialed it at the nearby Hotel Herman K. Now the two hotels are the world’s first to use it to clean themselves.

A suite-livingroom at the Hotel Ottilia in Copenhagen

“What really sold us on it was that it would make life so much easier for our staff,” Nielsen says. Housekeepers don’t have to apply chemical detergents and cleaners or breathe their fumes. They can vacuum, dry-clean linens, and wipe down surfaces, and CleanCoat does the rest. Guests also benefit: Their rooms are cleaned faster without using chemicals that can cause allergic reactions.

Nielsen estimates that each room costs USD2,500 to cover with CleanCoat. “The technology is expensive,” he says, “but we’ve reduced the labour load by 50 per cent. It’s giving our staff a much easier day and reducing our water consumption.” An additional benefit, he says, is cutting down on maintenance costs. “Since we no longer use chemicals to clean, we’re never spilling [bleach] on carpets.”

Guy Langford, vice chairman and US leader of the transportation and hospitality team at Deloitte, is less certain that this is the next big innovation to take hotels by storm. “Sustainability is something large brands are really prioritising right now, but it’s important to focus on the measures that can be easily scaled,” he explains, referring to common but impactful initiatives such as swapping plastic straws for paper.

When it comes to healthy lifestyle trends, Langford says, innovations are most readily embraced when they help travellers maintain their existing habits on the road. “That’s what’s driving popular new amenities like customised lighting settings, healthier menus, air purifiers, and the like.”

But if the CleanseBot is any indication, consumers are ready to embrace anything that ensures a clean and healthy stay. The new device, roughly the size of a hockey puck, is a packable cleaning robot that kills E. coli on your hotel room’s most germ-ridden surfaces. It launched on IndieGogo last month and has raised more than USD1 million since. And Langford concedes that technology doesn’t always have to reinvent the guest experience to prove useful; it can also be validated through operational efficiencies.

“We have a happier staff now,” says Nielsen, regarding that point. “It’s something we’ll roll out to all of our hotels as soon as we can-and we won’t be surprised to see it in some of the bigger brands in Copenhagen, too.” – Text and Photo by The Washington Post