1. Hyper-Wired Museums

3. Think Tank Resorts

For some developers and hoteliers, it’s no longer enough to build a hotel: you have to create an ideas community.

Claus Sendlinger has long been ahead of the curve. When he founded Design Hotels in 1993, the boutique-hotel concept was in a nascent stage. Now Sendlinger is on to his next big thing: creating a multi-hyphenate resort that’s part hotel, part members’ club, and part idea incubator for the creative class.

This year, he debuted La Granja Ibiza (lagranjaibiza.com; doubles from $500), an 11-room guesthouse on a farm in the heart of the Spanish island. The activities available for a small charge include yoga, Slow Food workshops, and lectures on the future of mobile societies, and aim to attract like-minded vacationers. Locals are welcome, too; a $220 annual membership fee provides access to events and lectures (for overnight guests, a membership is built in to the rate). “It’s all about dynamic collaboration,” says Sendlinger, who plans to expand to other locations.

Similar projects are springing up, on different scales and with different levels of inclusiveness. Set on a previously uninhabited island in Croatia, Obonjan (otokobonjan.com; from $65 per person per night) is a seasonal resort-festival that accommodates up to 500 guests. The draw: highly curated, experiential fun, including marine- conservation workshops, underwater art exhibits, and movie nights under the stars. Spread over 10,000 acres in Utah’s Wasatch Mountains, Summit Powder Mountain (summitpowdermountain.com), which broke ground in 2013, is hoping to be a next-gen ski village, complete with private residences, co-working spaces, a recording studio, a culinary school, and, eventually, several hotels. The town serves as an extension of Summit Series, invite-only networking events for wealthy individuals and thought leaders; early investors include Tim Ferriss and Richard Branson. Some programs and events will be open to the public, while others will remain exclusive to Summit members.

Photo-Illustration by Jesse Lenz (Source Photos: Getty Images)

4. Teched-Out Hotels

Smart Lighting

Lighting does more than provide illumination — it can also enhance your mood. Guests at St. Martins Lane, in London, can select from a spectrum of colored LEDs. Give your room a calming blue glow or a red hue for more energy. The Stay Well rooms at the MGM Grand Las Vegas as well as six Marriott properties offer bright white lighting to reduce jet lag and circadian bedside lighting to promote better sleep.

Voice Activation

Want to check the weather report or turn up the air- conditioning? All you have to do is ask. The Aloft Santa Clara, in California, and the Aloft Boston Seaport piloted the first-ever voice- activated rooms, powered by Siri and Apple HomeKit, this past summer.

Your Phone, In Charge

Land lines, keys, and remote controls may soon go extinct. Apps similar to Apple’s HomeKit are being rolled out at Dream Hotels, letting guests manage everything from lighting to restaurant reservations from their phones. Proper Hotels and the DoubleTree by Hilton in Park City, Utah, are introducing apps that unlock guest rooms. And the Aloft New Orleans Downtown was the first hotel with RoomCast, which lets guests securely stream video from their devices to their room TVs.

Robots to the Rescue

Select properties from Starwood Hotels & Resorts and Inter-Continental Hotels deploy a robot named Relay to deliver snacks and amenities to rooms, preventing the awkwardness of receiving that 2 a.m. burger while wearing your pajamas.

Jean Revillard/Getty Images

5. Zero-Emission Planes

Some revolutions happen slowly — in this case, at around 46 mph. In July, Swiss scientists and adventurers Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg completed the first around-the-world flight powered entirely by the sun. Their Solar Impulse Two was built not for comfort or speed (it averaged less than highway speed) but for efficiency. Piccard, 58, and Borschberg, 63, flew 17 exhausting alternating legs, the longest (from Nagoya, Japan, to Hawaii) clocking in at 117 hours, 52 minutes. They generated zero emissions along the way. The team wanted to demonstrate the viability of clean energy in air travel, and while they admit that solar jumbo jets are years off — we can’t currently get enough power from the sun to fly them — experimental aircraft such as NASA’s battery-powered X-57 passenger plane are exploring new ground. “I bet in ten years, electric planes will transport fifty people, commercially,” Piccard says.

6. Inside The Solar Impulse Two

Each propeller engine generates 17.4 horsepower. By comparison, a typical John Deere riding mower’s engine generates roughly 22.

Temperatures in the unpressurized cockpit range from -4 to 95 degrees, so pilots are equipped with oxygen as well as special clothing. The seat reclines for power naps.

The 236-foot wingspan is longer than a Dreamliner’s and supports more than 17,000 solar cells.

The plane weighs about 2.5 tons — less than a Cadillac Escalade — to help maintain lift and conserve energy.

Photo-Illustration by Jesse Lenz (Source Photos: Getty Images)

7. Omnipotent Travel-Planning Machines

It’s the next thing in travel booking: companies are leveraging artificial intelligence to offer the personalized touch that used to come from agents alone, but delivered on demand. These tools process huge amounts of public data and (with your okay) mine your e-mail and calendar to provide spot-on recommendations with a minimum of hassle.


An iOS app launched in May by Kayak co-founder Paul English, Lola combines advanced processing ability with human judgment. Submit requests via a messaging tool; Lola applies the preferences in your profile (aisle or window, high-end hotels or affordable B&Bs), and a team of agents delivers a start-to-finish plan.


This year-old app (iOS and Android) also offers a hybrid of computer and human expertise — in this case, to help business travelers book flights, hotel rooms, transportation, and restaurants, as well as assist with changes and problems along the way. It costs $19 a month; a desktop tool is in beta.

Hello Hipmunk

The booking site’s “travel planning assistant” doesn’t require you to download an app or even visit the website. Hello Email and Hello Calendar glean info from your e-mail threads and calendar. It’s like looping in your travel-agent friend and letting him do all the unpleasant parts of planning, from flight comparisons to hotel searches.

Travel + Leisure Staff

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