Robots will serve guests at Edmonton's Fantasyland Hotel

A funky, sci-fi version of the future will set up shop in the Fantasyland Hotel at West Edmonton Mall early next year. Friendly robots will soon start serving guests.

The good news: Humanoid workers will not ask for tips

Robots are a common sight at Japan's Henn-na Hotel. Early next year West Edmonton Mall's Fantasyland Hotel will roll out robots to assist guests with their needs. (Henn-na Hotel)

A funky, sci-fi version of the future will set up shop in the Fantasyland Hotel at West Edmonton Mall early next year.

Friendly robots will soon start serving guests, as a new chapter in the hotel's ongoing mission to grab the imagination of its guests.

For years the world-famous hotel has offered rooms decked out in a variety of fanciful, kitschy themes, ranging from Hollywood glam to redneck rowdies to Roman glory. For instance, curling up in a fire-engine bunkbed is a kid's dream come true.

But the robots will add extra funkiness to the environment. They are part of a futuristic renovation, and will attend to guests in 24 space-themed rooms in the soon-to-be refurbished wing of Fantasyland.

WEM officials declined to provide greater details, but said the new spaces are part of a strategy to add more families to their guest list.

Drew Newton, an Edmonton hospitality expert, believes the humanoids will be a big draw.

"The experiential product combined with this new technology can move the needle for the hotel; there's no doubt about that," said Newton, who added it remains a people-powered project.

"You can have all the technology you want, but without good people it will never work."

A prototype of the new futuristic rooms will be ready for testing in about a month. The rest of the rooms will come sometime in the new year.

Although robotic workers may be new to Edmonton, they're already big business in Japan.

Sasebo, Japan is home to what is considered the world's most famous robot hotel, the Henn-na, which translates to the "strange hotel."

The Henn-na uses robotic porters, front-desk clerks and bellboys. Newton says children are able to enjoy the novelty of interacting with machines, and parents can save a few bucks.

Because humanoids don't get paid, the Henn-na's rates are inexpensive.

Of course, robots — no matter how lifelike — won't be asking for a tip. 

And that's really good news for Fantasyland guests.


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