Juan Santos and his Tavistock team took a meticulous approach to designing Lake Nona Wave Hotel.
While creating the 100-square-foot bathroom space, for instance, Santos, the hotel’s senior VP of brand experience and innovation, and his team requested a physical mockup of the space.
The request came during the planning of Lake Nona’s signature hotel, a 17-story, 234-room technology playground.
For him, having a mockup to explore was research and development and served a very important purpose:
“You don’t want to make the same mistake 234 times,” he said. “We must have redrawn that room 100 times.”
Because of the R&D, the bathrooms in the hotel include a handful of subtle features that have helped Wave draw a high approval rating since its late 2021 debut.
Lake Nona Wave Hotel ranks 4th of 384 hotels in Orlando, according to user rankings on Trip Advisor.
Part of the reason has been an understanding and emphasis on how travelers rely on and expect hotels to be as tech-forward as possible.
Lake Nona Wave Hotel is a tech building
Lake Nona boasts a series of tech features meant to help it stand out in one of the most competitive markets in the world, which includes more than 500 hotels.
Subtle changes to the tint of the high-tech windows in response to natural lighting outside keep customers comfortable.
Of course, its mobile app allows guests to check in but also gives them control of temperature and lighting before arrival.
It all revolves around an emphasis on health and wellness.
“Being at the center of Lake Nona, it is vitally important for us to demonstrate the technology of tomorrow,” Director of Sales and Marketing James Tattersall said. “We brought together a range of innovations to make our guests’ stays more seamless.”
“Rosie” the celebrity robot concierge
Perhaps one of the more famous examples of technology being used at Wave is a robot named “Rosie.”
This robot butler, named after the classic cartoon character who famously served the Jetsons, navigates crowds and delivers food and drink using embedded 3D cameras and LIDAR technology.
But, for the most part, the technology is a little bit more subtle.
“We use technology as an invisible object to make sure there is no friction,” Santos said. “We have a clear set of technological standards that make us future-ready.”
Hotel occupancy at the Wave Hotel has grown quickly, right alongside the Lake Nona area’s emergence as a technology hub.
Compared to Year 1, the numbers for the second year have “taken off,” said Catherine McWhorter, the hotel’s sales and marketing coordinator.
“This is night and day compared to last year,” she said.
Hotel industry post-pandemic
The hotel industry was one of the hardest hit by the coronavirus, which shut down the economy and travel in 2020.
So, for the Wave Hotel to emerge as it has, it has had to stand out.
As you take a right off Lake Nona Boulevard onto Tavistock Lakes Boulevard, pushing past Boxi Park on the right, the wavy exterior of the Wave Hotel towers above.
Its parking garage, which in and of itself is a unique addition designed by a local artist, complements the hotel’s look.
Even standing in the lobby, you can recognize an approach that considers how people travel today.
Kiosks allow visitors to choose whether they ever speak to another human. The front desk is also there for more traditional checkins.
“Before, most innovation was about billing,” he said. “Now, we use it for friction removal. Hotels that embrace that, they do better.”
An autonomous shuttle connects visitors with the rest of the 17-square-mile Lake Nona complex.
Once inside the rooms, the tech gets even more personal.
Temperature-controlled beds, UV-blocking windows and smart toilets – yes, smart toilets – create an experience for visitors that certainly is high tech.
“We have a very distinct personality here,” Santos said. “We were trying to create the living room of Lake Nona.”