Alexandria’s Kimpton Lorien Hotel & Spa in Alexandria features a new interactive room where guests are encouraged to “power down” from digital devices.
Social media harnesses our power of interpersonal connection beyond our face-to-face interactions. We are able to read, post, react, empathize (and often criticize) with our fingertips from anywhere in the world. But what do those behaviors look like when they’re tangible?
Snap a morning selfie with a Polaroid camera rather than on Snapchat. Grab a hardcover book instead of reaching for your e-reader. Have a cup of coffee in bed as an alternative to your Starbucks pick-me-up. These aren’t just suggestions; these are exactly what Kimpton Lorien Hotel & Spa wants you to participate in as a part of its ongoing Stay Human Project.
After the project’s initial launch at Kimpton Everly Hotel in Los Angeles, each Kimpton location was tasked with the challenge of creating their own themed room for the project, according to Stephane Vogel, general manager of the Kimpton Lorien Hotel & Spa in Alexandria.
The Northern Virginia location decided to play into the property’s dream-like theme to create “Suite Dreams.” Every room in the hotel features a Rorschach ink blot-style mural above the bed, as well as other thought-provoking artwork and accouterments, so the idea was a natural fit, according to Vogel.
The Suite Dreams room, (Room 619), is an interactive room that encourages guests to “uncover the intersections and variances of the human experience through guest interactions surrounding sleeping, dreaming and nightly or morning rituals,” according to a press release.
This is where things get a little sticky. Digital behaviors over recent years, and the development of the mindset that everything needs to be public through social media, has brought to attention the reality and importance of privacy.
Upon booking the room, guests are to engage with at least three of the interactive features in the suite, each that leaves a small artifact of themselves behind (whether it’s a tangible piece of information, or a more figurative, intellectual and behavioral one).
So, what about all of that collected information guests leave behind? What happens to it?
At the conclusion of the social experiment known as Room 301 at Kimpton Everly Hotel in Los Angeles, Kimpton posted portions of its collected research online. Over 50 guests throughout the three-month trial period were prompted to interact with the room by painting confessions directly on a blank white wall, choosing a specialized cocktail that aligned with their top vice from the list of seven deadly sins and journaling something for the following guests to read upon their arrival.
At the Alexandria hotel, a small film camera sits next to the couch as a “I woke up like this,” photo station, where guests are encouraged to snap the selfie and drop the photo into the large cardboard box with collected snapshots of past guests.
There’s also a journal filled with writing prompts to help guests open up about their inner thoughts and dreams (both literal and figurative) that future guests will be able to read and analyze during their own stay, and a scrapbook of sorts where guests are encouraged to sketch, draw and paste artwork, which will fill up overtime.
In the evening, guests can even choose a dessert provided by the hotel’s on-site restaurant that corresponds with the type of dream they would like to have. And on the flip side, instead of a morning wake-up call via phone, a member of the Kimpton staff will bring freshly-brewed coffee to your door, pre-made to your liking (guests provide the staff with their preferences beforehand).
According to Jaclyn Randolph, the public relation’s director for Kimpton’s mid-Atlantic hotels, the company will record all of the findings at the conclusion of the “Suite Dreams” project, followed by a recap of what was found (where some information will be publicized online and on social media without identities attached), and the physical items will eventually be destroyed after being recorded in some capacity.
Information from the original Room 301 project in Los Angeles was quantified and published in a summary on the company’s website, but further uses of the information could not be identified or confirmed.
Similar to accepting the privacy terms and conditions when setting up a social media account, guests are required to sign a consent form prior to booking the suite in Alexandria. “Any time we’re getting personal information like this from a guest, we always want to make sure there is consent,” says Vogel.
Upon request, the hotel would not provide the full consent form but did offer the following information from the document:
“You explicitly consent to our collection, storage, modification, deletion, processing and/or use of any Personal Information you disclose as part of your participation in KSHP. ‘Personal Information’ as used herein will mean any photographic or video images submitted during your stay, online identifiers (such as social media handles) or other factors specific to your physical, physiological, genetic, mental, economic, cultural or social identity disclosed as part of your participating in KSHP.”
Guests are not randomly assigned to the suite when booking future reservations, they must specifically request a stay in the interactive room to be involved and will be prompted to sign the consent form for further access and use to the information they leave behind.
As for the ultimate goals of this project, Vogel hopes that the suite offers an opportunity for guests to experience the Kimpton Lorien Hotel & Spa in a way that better connects them to the company, the locale and other guests.
It comes back to the idea of distancing guests from the emphasis on digital influence and hoping to make them more attuned to their actions (whether inside or away from the suite itself).
“People are brave on social media, so brave,” says Vogel. “When people come to visit this suite, we want them to feel relaxed and able to unwind, while also experiencing their actions with more meaning.”
For more information, visit lorienhotelandspa.com. // Kimpton Lorien Hotel & Spa: 1600 King St., Alexandria; $259 per night until Aug.31
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