Portable luxury hotel rooms

Portable luxury hotel rooms

Swanky places to stay in remote areas

Portable luxury hotel rooms
The shipping freight containers are best described as reusable transport and storage units for moving products and raw materials between locations or countries. According to some estimates, the world has almost 17-18 million inter-modal containers, a large number of which are employed in the world’s long-distance freight movement.

These containers have strength suitable to withstand shipment, storage, and handling. It is this strength of sturdy 20-foot and 40-foot tin boxes that artistes and architects across the world have always experimented with to create new uses, especially after they have outlived their use in helping transport goods across seas.

While some have experimented by building swanky homes from these containers, believing it to be relatively more eco-friendly than traditional building materials such as brick and cement, many have gone ahead and built markets. One of the biggest shopping malls or organised markets in Europe is made up of alleys formed by stacked containers, on 170 acres of land in Ukraine. The Seventh-Kilometre Market, which is informally called “Tolchok”, has almost 16,000 vendors and over 1,200 security guards and maintenance workers running the show.

In the Southern hemisphere, the Cashel Mall in Christchurch, New Zealand, that witnessed a devastating earthquake, reopened in 2011 in a series of shipping containers.

It is not that only foreign shores have used containers more creatively. India’s third permanent base in Antarctica, the Bharathi Indian Polar Station, was built using 134 shipping containers. All interlocked and set on stilts. To allow the scientists work in the comfort of the structure within, even as extreme weather conditions of wind gusts of up to 320 kmph and temperatures reaching -40°C, badgered the structure from outside, an insulated skin and outer shell were adopted. This Indian base measures a total of 2,500 sq m (27,000 sq ft) and is split over three floors. Now, in an equally innovative move, an Ahmedabad-based hospitality brand-- Beetle Smartotels –has brought in the concept of a portable plug-n-play hotel built completely using discarded 40-foot shipping containers.

Unlike traditional brick-and-mortar hotels that take three to four years to construct and commission, these luxurious “portable” hotel rooms can be built and made operational within three to six months depending on the number of rooms required. Not just that, if need be they can create additional room infrastructure at the remotest location within a week. They can also be shipped to any part of the country, and even abroad, via land, rail or sea route to meet the hotel room shortage.

“These moving hotels use the concept of recycling and are environmentally conducive. They are built out of unused or discarded containers. After examining the containers for any structural damage, they are refurbished with three levels of heat insulation before being converted into a fully functional hotel room,” Tanmay Bathwal, a 24-year-old entrepreneur and managing director of Hirise Hospitality Pvt Ltd, said. However, like traditional luxury hotels, the rooms of portable hotels have plush interiors, elegant décor, top security mechanisms and safe deposit lockers in place, with entertainment and smart use of technology like any other star hotel.

As soon as they are ready, the facilities are transported and in about a month’s time the hotel will be fully functional. The company is working to eventually bring down this time to set up a functional hotel to just about a week.

The concept is the brainchild of Tanmay, who has been working on the development of this concept for the past three years. “The idea was to address the problem of time required to build a new hotel facility. We have seen various kinds of accommodations being built in containers but they were all shabby and not up to standard. Having started my career in the hotel industry, I understood what a guest requires when he travels to a new unknown destination. The focus was on comfortable smart rooms with an extravagant feel. We initially faced lot of challenges regarding the portability of our hotels. However, with our team’s persistence, we have finally been able to achieve what we aimed to do. It’s the hard work of a lot of people who were brave enough to accept this challenge and believing in this new concept,” he says.

He said that his concept would be ideal for remote locations, industry clusters and venues holding big ticket cultural conventions. “We are stepping into a domain where no one has trod before. We are successfully bridging the gap in availability of temporary, yet quality accommodation in a record time. We would have an inventory of such ready rooms. Whenever a demand arises, we just need to transport the ready rooms by road or rail and install it with electricity, plumbing and drainage connections,” he added. Tanmay’s team has already built and made 96 of 141-room hotel functional in an area of seven acres in Mundra SEZ. And like any other hotel, it also has a kitchen, restaurant, room service, landscaping and other facilities.

The furnishing and interiors of the rooms-- three rooms of 13 x 8 sq ft each in a container-- matches any luxurious star hotels, without giving the occupant a feeling of living in a container. The rooms have three-layered insulation on the top and at the bottom which make them almost sound-proof and maintain AC cooling inside.

It costs on an average Rs 15 lakh to make each room, including the interiors and common facilities. The room tariff is likely to be around Rs 2,000 to Rs 3,000 per day.  Currently, the hotel is designed to be spread on the ground-floor but Bathwal claims there can be multi-storey room installations as well. “We normally require about two acres to build a 100-room hotel with all on the ground floor. But we can also have a multi-storey hotel just like there are multi-storey containers stacked on the ship,” he said.

The entrepreneur is also working on building an alternative two-room container as well as a single suite in the entire container going forward. For now, he is aiming to add 2,000 portable hotel rooms by 2018 nationwide.
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