In Palo Alto, Calif., a hotbed for venture capitalists, cutting-edge startups, and innovative Stanford University students, Joie de Vivre is getting ready to reveal its newest hospitality concept. The Epiphany Hotel, located just blocks from the university, will be an eight-story luxury boutique hotel that caters to the region’s tech-savvy travelers.
“The thing about Joie de Vivre is that every hotel has its own identity,” says General Manager Lorenz Maurer. “Every hotel is designed for its location. When we started approaching The Epiphany two and a half years ago, we started off by inviting local businesses to that kickoff meeting.” Those meetings gave the hotel team insight into how to make the new destination part of the city’s fabric.
The hotel, which Maurer says is set to open in late February or early March, took over Casa Olga, a former senior care facility located at the intersection of Emerson Street and Hamilton Avenue in the city’s downtown. Designed by Steinberg Architects and McCartan Interior Design, the property is keeping the original façade’s six-story mosaic portrait of El Palo Alto, the famed redwood tree that inspired the city’s name.
Being in Silicon Valley, it’s only natural that The Epiphany will offer its share of technology-friendly features, such as complimentary high-speed Internet and G-Link docks for streaming movies and games from mobile devices to large-screen TVs. The property also plans to hire a specialty concierge to help guests with all of their tech needs.
Meeting spaces and a high-tech boardroom designed by consulting firm IDEO will round out the business amenities, and the ground floor will feature an 80-seat indoor-outdoor restaurant that will serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Room service will be available around the clock.
However, despite The Epiphany’s smart-technology strategy, a decision was made to keep the hotel’s gadgets and gizmos in check. Maurer says travelers want to use their own technology, but aren’t on the lookout for tech features in every corner of the room.
“A lot of hotels make the mistake of overloading with too much technology,” he says. The keys, he adds, are design and bringing in technology when it makes sense. For example, there was a debate about whether or not to install modern, touch-screen light switches in guestroom bathrooms as opposed to traditional switches.
“The physical switch is so much easier, and if you only spend one night, by the time you figure out how to work it, you’re already checking out,” he says. “[The hotel] is not loaded with unnecessary technology. It’s a mix.”
The technology aspect is also toned down in other areas, such as check-in, so that the hotel staff can provide a more personal experience for guests.
“I understand if you need a kiosk check-in at a 1,000-room hotel. But for us, there’s never going to be a line because it’s so small,” Maurer says. “With 86 rooms, we will know every guest by name, and we want to use that to our advantage.”