Technology is changing the look of guestroom workspaces

Virgin Hotels' "ergonomic bed."

Last week, we looked at how technology and the "co-working" trend is affecting hotel lobby design. But how are the latest trends changing how guestrooms look?

“More guestrooms today are equipped with complimentary Wi-Fi, desks with multiple power jacks and USB charging stations,” Carson Norcross, founder of Norcross Furniture Company, said. “Desk chairs are being designed to add extra lumbar support for guest’s backs.” Beyond that, Norcross predicts guestrooms may soon have lounge chairs with a built-in Virtual Reality charging port—or even a VR system. 

Many guestroom desks today come standard with built-in power and USB ports for users to charge their mobile devices while working. “It is very difficult to make task furniture look luxurious as well as technologically multifunctional,” Christian Rodriguez, president of F&R General Interiors, said. “Hours are spent figuring out the best location to embed power jacks or USB ports in desks and tables because you want the user to be able to easily access charging ports, etc., but you also want to hide the wiring to keep the aesthetically pleasing look.” To that end, ports are commonly installed on the tops or sides of of desks and tables. “Wiring for the power jack [or] USB port is often hidden and runs through built-in holes under the desk or table by use of grommets.” Depending on the desired design, these ports can be hidden or made to blend in on the surface with hinged covers. 

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“We find some hardships with the final power connection that needs to be taken into consideration when designing these items,” Rodriguez said. “A power outlet is required—most of the time, it’s located on the floor, which will require a specific electrical run through the floor to the destination. This is something not commonly achieved in remodel situations, since it is a large project to run a new electrical run through an existing finished floor.” Most hotels, he said, have many outlets already located in the floor, making the design process easier. “New construction usually have this taken into consideration for ease of use and versatility. I believe wireless charging is a must in the technology field.” 

Virgin Hotels, meanwhile, is taking the very idea of guestroom “task furniture” to the next level. The company has developed a custom “ergonomic bed” that includes a backrest at one corner, allowing guests to sit up in bed and read or work on their portable devices. “Virgin Hotels understands the growing demands of this traveler and has created a solution the suits comfort and functionality,” Natalie Norcross, Carson's wife and founder and CEO of A Design Partnership, said. “It is a hybrid of comfort and common sense.”

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