Opinion: Calling a spade a ‘hand-held soil repositioning device’

For years, hotel rooms have had three essential elements: a bed, a desk, and a functioning bathroom. Now, IHG has released details for what it is calling ‘the room of the future’, with features including: a bed, a desk, and a bathroom… Oh, and a couch, which can be used not only for sitting, but also for other couch-related activities, such as reading, or watching TV.

These are not ordinary facilities. These are, at least when grouped together, a patented concept called WorkLife Room, which has been ‘designed to help modern business travellers unleash their productivity and provide them with a space that fits their blended lifestyle’.


Unleashed is the key word. Business travellers were not the only people IHG’s new concept has unleashed. The marketing team, it seems, were also let loose.

The hotel room is no longer a room. It is a ‘flexible environment’. Traversing this flexible environment enables guests to access the ‘distinct zones that encourage guests to work, relax, and recharge…”These distinct zones, as far as I can tell, include the bed, the desk, the bathroom, and the couch, separated by some floor space.

Meredith Latham, regional vice president, Crowne Plaza Hotels & Resorts, Americas said: “The patent approval of the Crowne Plaza brand’s WorkLife Room is a major distinction – one that speaks to the concept’s ground-breaking design, and one that demonstrates how the Crowne Plaza brand is redefining what a hotel room can be.”

Image sourced from IHG's news and media site.

Maybe I’m being a bit harsh, but I struggle to see what is so ‘ground-breaking’ in the concept’s ground-breaking design. According to the press release key features of the WorkLife guestrooms include: skew beds, or ‘angled’ beds, that allow for more space to be opened for the distinct zones, and have cocooning headboards, Beautyrest mattresses, plush linen and a trademarked aromatherapy kit called ‘Sleep Advantage’; a couch, or ‘sofa nook’, which is really a ‘multi-purpose space for reading, watching TV, working, meeting with colleagues or kicking back with room service’, all of which are, in my opinion, pretty good uses for a couch; if you find the variety of options available on the couch distracting, there’s the Desk area for work, providing an ‘uncluttered workspace where guests can focus’; a welcome station, which somehow ‘gets guests settled’, and provides its very own distinct zone for keys, bags, and coats; and there is a bathroom, featuring a modern and bright design, which apparently can help guests feel ‘re-energised by their routines’.

The rooms have free Wi-Fi, and power outlets abound with the release stating that guests will never be more than an arm’s length away from a charging station. More importantly, guests will “never have to move furniture to reach outlets”, which is undoubtedly a positive feature.

The WorkLife Room was developed as part of the Crowne Plaza Accelerate programme, IHG’s $200 million (R2,97bn), multi-year investment to transform the Crowne Plaza brand in the Americas region. Other components of the Accelerate programme include adaptive third spaces, called Plaza Workspace; an exclusive designer staff uniform collection; New Modern Design throughout hotel properties; and, of course, most exciting of all, ‘more’.


Jason Simpson is a multi-purpose human resource, who combines the precise movement of his fingers on a keyboard, with various thoughts and sources of information to produce relevant content for Travel & Meetings Buyer.