Hilton’s new extended-stay brand has a name, Apple Vision Pro’s impact on travel, and the Boeing 737 MAX 9 fallout continues. All that and more in this week’s Five on Friday.
Hilton names its new long‑stay hotel brand
Just six months after its announcement, Hilton’s new studio apartment-style hotel offering—dubbed LivSmart Studios by Hilton—already has more than 350 deals in the works. The brand capitalizes on a guest segment that traveled even throughout the pandemic, according to a release from the company. The lower midscale extended-stay properties are intended to meet the needs of travelers staying 20-plus nights via three signature elements: a design that features a warm wood-toned exterior, modern farmhouse-inspired palette, and outdoor patios complete with firepits and comfortable seating; large and functional apartment-style rooms with ample storage and movable multipurpose furniture; and a nontraditional lobby experience with sight lines from the front desk to the fitness and laundry rooms, and a simple retail market. Hilton broke ground on LivSmart Studios’ first hotel in October, with the 137-room property in Kokomo, Indiana expected to open by late summer.
How will the Apple Vision Pro headset impact travel?
Apple announced this week that its $3,499 VR headset will be available in the U.S. beginning Friday, February 2nd, with preorders starting next Friday. The company revealed the product last June, launched as a competitor to headsets from the likes of Meta and Lenovo. According to Skift, the product, controlled by the user’s eyes, hands, and voice, can allow them to virtually explore new places and even revisit past trips. One of its settings allows wearers to view landscapes—like national parks and even the moon’s surface—while a partnership with Disney makes a tour of Disney World and immersive viewing of National Geographic travel videos possible. Potential app integration could lead to previews offered by travel agents, stargazing, and even virtual space travel. Writes Justin Dawes for Skift: “Pictures and videos can expand as large as the user wants them. Panoramas taken on the iPhone expand and appear to wrap around the user, meant to create the feeling that the user is standing in the photographed place once again.”
New York’s getting a pollutant-filtering floating swimming pool
Having received $16 million in funding from the City of New York and New York State, a pilot and testing for the proposed + POOL, designed by PlayLab, Inc. and former design studio Family, will begin this summer. The cross-shaped pool, detailed by Dezeen, will “filter pollutants from the surrounding water without chemicals and provide publicly accessible swimming for New Yorkers.” Measuring approximately 2,000 square feet, the pool will be able to clean 1,000,000 gallons of water a day by filtering water through its walls with a patented system that “brings raw river water to an acceptable microbiological standard for swimming,” according to nonprofit organization Friends of + POOL, using the EPA’s water quality modeling software. Previously approved for a location north of the Manhattan Bridge, the New York City pool is expected to be open for swimmers in 2025, while this year’s pilot also tests the design to be launched elsewhere in New York State.
Scrutiny intensifies for Boeing’s 737 MAX 9
Luckily for air travelers, safety will be the determining factor for the reintroduction of the Boeing 737 MAX 9 aircraft, U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said this week. Inspections of the fleet continue with all flights grounded, at least until tomorrow, following the sudden loss of a door plug that forced the emergency landing for an Alaska Airlines plane last week. NBC News reports that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) will increase its oversight of airplane maker Boeing’s manufacturing and production, auditing the 737 MAX 9 production line and its suppliers to evaluate the company’s compliance with quality and safety procedures. Alaska Airlines (which is now being sued by passengers of the flight in question) and United are the only U.S. carriers that operate the 737 MAX 9. International airlines affected by the grounding order include Aeromexico, Copa Airlines, and Turkish Airlines.
Submissions now open for the HD/West Elm Student Product Design Competition
HD is again partnering with West Elm to present the sixth annual HD/West Elm Student Product Design Competition. Current students and those who have been out of school for up to a year are eligible to enter. This year, West Elm is looking for a barstool intended for hospitality and commercial spaces. The stool should be aesthetically neutral enough to go into multiple environments but should have a distinct design perspective while also fitting seamlessly into the West Elm vernacular. The winning designer will receive a $5,000 prize, have their product produced by West Elm, and be celebrated at the 2024 HD Awards ceremony on April 30th during HD Expo + Conference in Las Vegas. The deadline for submissions is Friday, March 15th. Find out more and enter!