Robotic hospitality prevails at Nagasaki hotel


Strange ways indeed
From a distance, front-desk receptionist Yumeko could be mistaken for a good-looking young lady of genuine flesh and blood, whereas colleagues positioned at the counter to either of her sides won’t fool anyone. They are instantly recognisable as what they are: a not-so-handsome-yet-still-quite-cute greenish descendent of the Jurassic age with a serious overbite and a manikin-like mechanical device held in colours white and blue: little Nao. It is obvious, that dinosaur Mirai cannot be real – but neither is Yumeko nor are most of the staff weasling about the Henn-na Hotel in Nagasaki: Instead, they are intelligent robots able to converse with their customers in a sensible and friendly manner while checking them in and out. The diligent machines are always ready to please, never in a filthy mood and obedient servants programmed to satisfy their guests’ special needs.

Is Number Five still alive?

Not amazingly, Henn-na translates to „strange“ or “weird”. The verifiably human staff at the Henn-na Hotel is assisted by three robots at the front desk, one taking care of guest information, two of the luggage and one of the cloakroom. An army of 72 droll „Chu-ri Robos“ – sitting at attention in every room – is serving as en-suite helpers: Want to know the time, tomorrow’s weather, switch the lights on or off or have a wake-up call in the morning? The tiny contraptions are at your service at all times.

Always willing to lend a helping hand: the robot in charge of the cloakroom.

Always eager to lend a helping “hand”: the robot in charge of the cloakroom.

Environment-conscious: the Huis Ten Bosch amusement park

The Henn-na Hotel represents a new attraction to the Huis Ten Bosch amusement park and is the first hotel of its kind worldwide. The park located at Sasebo/Nagasaki, recreates Dutch-style buildings in real size. It was opened in 1992 as an “Eco-Friendly Future City”, sporting advanced, environmentally friendly features such as a waste recycling system or the equipment required to support conservation of water and electricity, accompanied by a number of useful appliances to protect the park’s natural ecosystem. The new hotel just had to fit into this ambitious – and rather progressive for the time – novel concept. And so it does, by actively decreasing energy usage and waste and by employing the mantra of „ultimate efficiency“. Services and facilities commonplace in conventional hotels were thoroughly scrutinised during the planning phase and up came the fabulous idea to staff the new property with frugal ever-jolly robots. After all: in an amusement park, a weird component here and there is vital to render the visitor’s experience a memorable one.

A minimalist concept conceived to last

No frills needed. Efficiency is the mantra and sustainability the creed.

No frills wanted at the Henn-na. Efficiency is the mantra and sustainability the manifested creed.

By having „turned the entire hotel business on its head“, as the management puts it, they are asking for the guests’ cooperation and their understanding towards the changes and adjustments likely to happen in order to keep the ship afloat.

And these are the seven points that explain, how the Henn-na Hotel functions and how its well-designed efficiency can be maintained long-term:

To reduce electricity usage
1. Guests can watch television on a tablet device. They are provided depending on the room type.
2. Thanks to a motion sensor, lighting turns off automatically when no one is in the room.
Lighting settings can also be controlled via a tablet device.
3. All rooms feature a “radiant panel” air conditioning system.

To reduce waste
4.Only minimum necessities are provided to avoid “useless amenities”.

To increase efficiency
5. Robots make up the main staff. “These warm and friendly robots” go about their work most efficiently.
6. Keyless Stay. Henn-na Hotel uses a facial recognition system for keyless stays. Contactless IC key cards can be used as well.

For FAQ (like „How to use this hotel“) and other relevant info:

All images are at the courtesy of ©Huis Ten Bosch.

A video on the hotel opening ceremony: