Restaurants? No, videogames

If you're not avid gamer, your idea of a holiday is likely to include pristine beaches, orange sunsets and culinary delights to enjoy with friends. For gamers on the other hand, a holiday may mean spending too much time away from the console and videogames. Needless to say, the hotel industry is also providing for the needs of this increasing market, although it is not a novelty to encourage entertainment and the socialization of guests.

Hotels and videogames

Since 2008, chains such as Aloft Hotel have equipped the lobbies with tables for games and billiards, thus encouraging "fraternization" even in situations as solitary as those of business travel.

"Hotels are a long way from simply providing food and shelter for the night - they tend to become social centres," said Jan Freitag, senior vice president of hotel analytics at SRT Global. "The lobbies were a waste of space in marble corridors, often completely devoid of furniture, they were certainly not a place where you wanted to be. They are now designed as places where you feel the pleasure of stopping, resulting in an increase in the annual income of food and drink.

Back to 80’s: the return of the arcade room

After the seventies and eighties, when it was not unusual to find games rooms in hotels equipped to park their children passionate about Pac-Man or pinball machine wizards, the arcade rooms, thanks to the relentless revival of vintage in recent years, have come back in vogue, but this time addressing a much more adult target.
Hotel Zetta in San Francisco offers its guests a large room-like loft overlooking the lobby. It features billiard tables, air hockey and shuffleboarding, and board games such as Yahtzee and Candyland. A two-storey Pachinko board on the wall allows players to throw from the loft the football balls that replace the traditional floppy disks and then see them land in the atrium. A particular attention to the well-being of its guests, in this case is focused on the world of hi-tech and media.

"The games room is a new definition of luxury for a certain type of creative professional," says Seattle-based interior designer Andrea Dawson, who designed the Hotel Zetta. "That's why we have created a games room rather than a restaurant: we want to dedicate more space to relaxation. Thanks to his previous work with Microsoft human resources, has managed to understand, and then channel into common spaces, the real needs of this new digital community, which in his spare time seems to love to distract himself with challenges as practical as they are cerebral. "They work hard," explained Dawson, "but then they love to play, they are born players, they have different energy that they need to download and that is part of their creative process.

Also in San Francisco, Hotel Monaco features Wii video games during wine time every night, while the Park Inn at Radisson Resorts in Orlando, Florida, has a fully stocked kids' video game room. And the Wildwood Lodge at Snowmass near Aspen, Colorado, features the classic arcade games room with retro features like Galaga and table football, as well as more recent video games like Fast and The Furious.

New York's Pod 39 a few years ago added a Play Room equipped with ping pong tables and classic board games like the Parcheesians: Richard Born, co-owner of Pod 39 as well as another thirty or so hotel properties only between Manhattan and Brooklyn, recalls that playrooms are one of the ways in which hotels aim to create a sense of community among perfect strangers, insisting that the Play Room he strongly wanted is an attraction primarily aimed at developing the social side of the hotel, although (or perhaps even because) it is located near the bar. "It's a successful operation when the bar is too crowded, but it's successful even with guests used to higher hotel standards," he says.

The 366 rooms of Pod 39 are deliberately very small and cost accordingly: it seemed almost indispensable to offer travellers at least a nice living room to share. "The business traveller we receive at our hotel isn't the Xerox corporate executive, he's the entrepreneur who's making his way," says Richard Born, "We like the idea of giving someone with a strong creativity and brilliant mind the chance to meet other people who choose my hotel for the same reason.

A unique videogame for unique guests

The W Hotels chain, opening a branch in Bellevue, Washington, has had to deal with its neighbours, all avid players: around the corner are Bungie, 5th Cell, Sucker Punch and Valve, just behind Halo, Destiny, Scribblenauts, InFamous and Half-Life. And right down the street is Microsoft's Xbox headquarters, Expedia, T-Mobile, and a galaxy of active technology startups.

In the heart of the city's most hi-tech centre, W Bellevue has decided to make itself known by creating its own videogame, Belle the Bear, inspired by the SEGA Frogger of the eighties and reproducible on virtually any device, directly from the browser and therefore without the need for an app or software to download: A retro 8bit graphic teddy bear that, as it crosses the streets, woods and technology centres of Bellevue in an attempt to reach the W Hotel, clashes with a discreet variety of enemies and obstacles, from bees to drones, it tries to collect as many bitcoins as possible along the way (the Bellevue one is, among other things, the first hotel in the W chain to accept digital currencies).

As Brock Marlborough, production director of Pen & Public, the game's developer company, said, the intention was to attract hi-tech and millenial travellers with an appropriate blend of local natural beauty and cutting-edge technology: "A video game seemed to be the right compromise between technology and entertainment. He gave us a blank canvas to tell the story of Bellevue, blending nature and technology with the distinctive elements of the W brand. Of course, the chain soon placed the character of Belle inside the decor of the structure, in the shower and in the pool for example.
"Like all things like that, there is an element of risk," admits Anthony Ingham, Global Brand Leader at W Hotels. "No one had ever done this before. But it's part of W's DNA. It's a game for the technicians who come to our hotel, but also for the general public”.
But American gamers aren't the only ones to have fun when they're on the move: in the UK, at the Staybridge Suites, you can book a suite that also features the latest video games and consoles, while the Arcade Hotel in Amsterdam is completely focused on the theme of video games.

Every room in the Dutch building, furnished in an extremely minimal and functional way, is equipped with retro and modern consoles and a collection of games available at no extra cost, headphones and huge flat screens, Sennheiser headphones "that will make you feel the passage of ants on the battlefield" and a VR game corner of the latest generation. And, as specified on the site, comfortable spring mattresses.
The Arcade often hosts events related to the world of gaming and even the food and drinks served are themed. For the opening night, video games were even shown on the front of the hotel. To go for a tour of museums apparently there is always time.

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