How Whitepod, Alaya and The St. Regis Bal Harbour are on the forefront of industry ingenuity
In the Swiss Alps, a cluster of unusual structures is changing the way we think about hotel rooms. Located in the Valais region of Switzerland, Whitepod accommodates guests in geodesic domes, 23 feet in diameter, which combine comfort, tranquility and spectacular views to create an environmentally friendly way to experience the surrounding mountains. Each of the 15 energy-efficient, unobtrusive pods allows guests to use local sources of water and fuel, and to feel connected to the land in a way that traditional hotels do not.
“By choosing Whitepod, you play an active role in this ecological mission,” says Platinum List expert Richard Ekkebus, culinary director at the Michelin-starred Amber at The Landmark Mandarin Oriental in Hong Kong. Whitepod also places a notable emphasis on staying local: All staff live nearby and walk to work, thereby keeping motorized transport to a minimum.
Another hotel that emphasizes sustainability is Alaya in Tulum, Mexico, where guests can work out with a twist: All the exercise equipment is made out of 90-percent natural materials, conceived and constructed by local craftspeople. At thisbeach, guests can lift “lava” rocks and squat with wooden barbells just like Fred Flintstone may have done. “People really enjoy the true contact with nature,” says Platinum List expert Eduardo Marcos, president of American Airlines Vacations.
The St. Regis Bal Harbour
Miami Beach, Florida
The St. Regis Bal Harbour is seeking to innovate in other ways. Always known for its exceptional butler program, the Florida resort recently introduced “eButler,” a service that allows guests to contact a personal assistant, day or night, at the touch of a smartphone button. “It’s really pushing butlers into the digital age,” says St. Regis marketing director Nikolai Ursin. The hotel has also adopted a new program called Resort Pass, which allows guests to use the amenities for a day without having to book a room, giving more people access to the resort’s spa and beachfront cabanas. Think of it as an innovative way to book your next staycation. Says Ursin, “We’ve always listened to our guests’ feedback, and used that to make changes.”