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I MET the most interesting person in Singapore recently. She was helpful, efficient, well-presented … and she wasn’t human. Sophie was a ‘droid. Forget Star Wars sci-fi, the new 223-guestroom Sofitel Singapore City Centre is at the forefront of new hotel technology with the service-minded Sophie ready to answer questions and deliver room service with a smile. Yes Sophie does smile. In fact she smiles all the time, something that even the most eager human concierge can’t always manage. Sophie was the star of the hotel when it opened late like year and sits in the lobby in her blue and flower–print uniform waiting to be of service. She proved so popular that she was soon joined by Xavier, a ‘droid butler, in February this year (just in time for Valentine’s Day - just saying…) The robots can both take lifts using a special Wi-Fi sensor and navigate their way to your room.
So what is it like to be served by Sophie? Enjoyable but disconcerting actually because you have the overwhelming urge to interact. Nevertheless the whole experience of being waited on by Xavier and Sophie is fun. Their primary function is to extend minibar services to guestrooms and we suspect that mini bar consumption has gone up substantially since they have started delivering to rooms. Guest use words like “adorable’ and ‘cute’ when commenting on them, so they definitely enhance the guest’s experience. Aside from Sophie and Xavier the hotel also utilises two units of housekeeping i-robots to assist Ambassadors provide back of the house services to guests. 
LUXURY LINKS: www.sofitel.com
Singapore is a cutting edge destination when it comes to robot hospitality. Here’s a few other Singapore hotels hotels utilising ‘droids.

Hotel Jen: Named Jeno and Jena, Hotel Jen’s robots at Orchard Gateway and Tanglin are ‘dressed’ in bright-coloured uniforms and stationed at the hotels’ lobbies. Both Jeno and Jena can ride the lift and deliver amenities and in-room dining meals to guests at any time of the day. www.hoteljen.com

M Social: This millennial-targeted hotel has an award-winning room service robot called Aura. The hotel also has a special egg-frying robot which helps cook up breakfast. Company Chairman, billionaire Kwek Leng, obviously likes to be at the forefront of hospitality. www.millenniumhotels.com/en/singapore/m-social-singapore/

Park Avenue Rochester Hotel: the hotel has two ‘droids , a Robot bellhop called Robie and a robot housekeeper called Cobie. www.parkavenueintl.com/parkavenuerochester/

Yotel Singapore: is electronic from check-in to check-out with droids operating in the lobby. www.yotel.com

ILTM: At the recent International Luxury Travel Market held in Singapore ‘droids appeared on stage to interact with presenters at the opening night forum. www.iltm.com
Hilary Doling, 29/6/18


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