The Cliff Hanger and Three Other Radical Hotel Ideas

From a resort hanging from the side of a cliff, to one that rolls on rails, the Radical Innovation in Hospitality Awards aim to change your idea of what a hotel is all about.

The Cliff Hanger and Three Other Radical Hotel Ideas

It’s not easy finding truly radical innovation when it comes to the hospitality industry. Hotels and resorts follow a tried-and-true money-making pattern and rarely risk giving guests anything more than the same experience they’ve already had elsewhere–except in a different place. The Radical Innovation in Hospitality Awards aim to change all that by identifying big new ideas in hospitality, from those currently open and operating to the purely conceptual.


Four finalists were selected by a jury, and yesterday, at the Hospitality Design Boutique Exposition & Conference in Miami Beach, attendees voted in real-time for a winner, who walked home with $10,000. Here are the three finalists, and the winner, which is an actual operating hotel–the Pixel Hotel, in Linz, Austria–where you can book a room today.


Cliff Hanger (concept)
Design: Edward Abeyta, AIA, LEED AP of HKS Inc., Dallas
This temporary, modular concept can be strapped to any dramatic, vertical site, from the walls of the Grand Canyon to the Golden Gate Bridge, giving guests inside a feeling of being completely immersed in an environment. Using vertical, structural tress suspended with tension rods, the hotel can be easily secured and removed, reducing the hotel’s ecological footprint on the site itself and removing all traces of the hotel and human impact as one leaves. A stack of individual guest rooms one on top of each other maximizes the drama of the surrounding environment and leaves guest to enjoy the panoramic views without the bustle usually found around these popular tourist sites.


Bucket List (concept)
Design team: Cynthia Jacobs, Shannon Seuss, Tom Williams, Michael Brown, Jin Koyama of WATG, Seattle
Did you ever think Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson could inspire a design concept? Based on the premise of the 2007 film The Bucket List, this concept focuses on those long to-do lists comprised of everything you want to do before you ‘kick the bucket.’ But the problem with many of these dream destinations is their remoteness–African safari, Alaskan glaciers–compounded by the fact that most of these travelers are post-retirement age and need some level of resort-quality amenities. Bucket List Lodging (BLL) uses a combination of eco-friendly design, modular accommodations, and mobility solutions to bring these extraordinary must-see locations to the Baby Boomer generation and their extended families.


Pixel Hotel (now operating in Linz, Austria)
Design team: Sabine Funk, Michael Grugl, Jurgen Haller, Christian H. Leeb, Richard Steger, Christoph Weidinger, Linz, Austria
The winning entry, the Pixel Hotel, is the only finalist that’s currently open and operating. Started by a group of Austrian architects to serve an influx of tourists visiting Linz when it was named the 2009 European Cultural Capital, the Pixel Hotel offers decentralized accommdations in different venues which are sprinkled all over the city. A network of uniquely-designed rooms, each with their own personality, give visitors the feeling of staying in a private apartment, and offer more privacy than the standard hotel. The Pixel’s rooms are also prime examples of adaptive reuse, carving out hotel space in previously vacant spaces like factories and, in the shot above, a ship in the industrial harbor. Mobile receptionists and cleaners who travel between the spaces contracted on demand, and a guest 24/7 emergency phone number is provided in case urgent assistance is required. Wireless Internet access to stay connected is, of course, free.


Zephyr Resort (concept)
Design team: Cagley & Tanner, Las Vegas
While the rest of the country waits for the high-speed train network to zip us across the country, this concept nods to the vast network of slow-speed train tracks that already exist as a new way to travel the country. Banking on high gas prices that will up the cost of operating both cars and airplanes, the Zephyr Resort wants to reinvent the train experience in the U.S., making it more like a luxury cruise line. More amenities like larger guest rooms, entertainment and fine dining will be brought onboard, turning the excusrion into an experience in and of itself. Travelers will go from destination to destination in the evenings and park at stations during the day for excurions into cities across the country.

About the author

Alissa is a design writer for publications like Fast Company, GOOD and Dwell who can most often be found in Los Angeles. She likes to walk, ride the bus, and eat gelato