The Technologies Shaking up Leisure and Recreation Spaces

Published on
March 14, 2024
March 14, 2024

Most Proptech solutions are dictated by practicality. Apartment renters and office tenants may not be swayed by ultra-luxury features, but owners of resorts and other destinations have comparative carte blanche to invest in next-level solutions that may simply look cool for the sake of looking cool. In this article, we’ll catalog the scope of leisure technology for resorts, destinations, venues, and recreation properties, from virtual reality to man made islands.  

Experiences and entertainment  

As more and more content is consumed online, destinations and venues seem to see the value in emphasizing the experience. Las Vegas’ Sphere attraction and venue is a perfect example of this. How else to compete with visitors’ 50-inch 4K televisions at home than to go over the top with a viewing experience that is immersive both inside and out?  

In a similar vein, providers that offer traditional recreation like darts, go-karting, or minigolf but with a tech-enabled twist are quickly becoming a big source of leasing activity for landlords with properties in entertainment-focused areas. Flight Club, which uses screens and electronic scoring to offer additional social elements and game types, is taking down a lease in a downtown Philadelphia district also home to various golf, bowling, and arcade spaces.  

Second homes and vacation properties are another way people spend their leisure time, and a variety of tech solutions serve this niche as well. These platforms assist second homeowners in various ways: Enabling the use of second homes as short-term rentals, providing rent-to-own structures, or providing fractional ownership of second homes.  

Finally, a variety of imaging technologies are reshaping how people interact with media. In Paris, the Musée d’Orsay’s new Vincent Van Gogh exhibit lets visitors use a VR headset to experience three-dimensional representations of Van Gogh’s works and also features an AI-powered avatar of the artist himself, which guests can pose questions for direct response. Meanwhile, holographic technologies that depict performers much more realistically than even high-quality screens are being used to showcase performances of legendary artists like ABBA and Elvis Presley. It’s not hard to imagine how these technologies could culminate in AI-powered concierges or desk agents that feel like they’re there.  

Operations and efficiency

Some leisure tech is less exciting at face value, helping resort owners serve more guests more efficiently.  

In ski resorts, where ski runs are limited by lift capacity and seasons are threatened by climate change, a few new technologies are popping up. At the Canadian ski resort Mount St. Louis Moonstone, ski lifts are being upgraded to higher capacity models with features like heated seats and loading assist conveyor belts. The resort claims it now boasts the highest capacity lifts in North America. Across the globe, Spanish ski resort La Molina is testing a new way to create artificial snow by adding the mineral fieldspar to snow cannons, replicating natural snow nucleation inside clouds, and reducing the energy consumption of laying down fresh powder.  

At Six Senses Southern Dunes in Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea hospitality complex, 3D-printed 5G towers were made to blend into the rocky landscape surrounding the property, and operate carbon-free thanks to an entirely solar power generation system.  

Within hotels, robots have been steadily becoming a more common sight, cleaning and delivering room service to guests. Robots for roles like this may carry some novelty now, perhaps being a draw in and of themselves, but with time their presence will undoubtedly become more common and fade into the background. In another angle from Disney, the company filed a patent in 2022 for robotic storage lockers that can bring guests’ possessions to them, instead of requiring visitors to plan visits to locker stations into their plans for the day. In some cases, the robots are the centerpieces themselves, interacting with guests and dancing or engaging in other activities.  

 

Customization and interactivity  

Customization and interactivity a major themes across destinations and venues, from AI deployed to provide travelers with custom itineraries and travel advice to much more in-depth examples such as gamification based on devices. Universal Studios theme parks sell “magical wands” equipped with infrared reflectors, which can activate various animatronic features hidden throughout the parks. These implementations can represent big parts of an overall experience, providing monetization opportunities and enhancing overall quality for users. Even more far-out, a recent panel including an expert from Walt Disney Imagineering discussed technologies such as implantable sensors or controls.

Customization matters even when guests are asleep. Lodgings such as Lake Nona Wave Hotel in Orlando feature smart beds, which can be set to the guest’s specific preferences in terms of temperature and support. Beyond sleep, 3D scanning technology is also being deployed to help sell merchandise to travelers, as well. For instance, guests at a Vietnam Four Seasons resort have the option to undergo a full-body 3D scan in their hotel room, after which their measurements are sent to local tailors who can produce an entire custom wardrobe in 24 hours.  

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