Hospitality has struggled the most because of COVID-19, but space travel and earth-orbiting hotels are the next frontiers for the industry looking for some relief
For most of us, it means a lifelong fight to stop or reverse aging.
For space travelers, it’s an opportunity to escape it altogether but of course, there is much more to this.
A California-based startup has announced plans to begin the construction of the world’s first space hotel in 2025 and could be operational as early as 2027.
The hotel will host restaurants, a cinema, a spa and rooms for 400 people.
“Our planned orbit and elevation for voyager station are 97 degrees and 500-550 km,” said the Orbital Assembly, the company behind the project, in a Twitter post.
“This is a sun-synchronous polar orbit that will reduce thermal stress and allow for almost continuous solar power generation.”
The Voyage Station hotel
Orbital Assembly says that the Voyager Station, the commercial space station that will house the hotel, will feature more than 11,600 m2 of habitable space in modules and access tubes; 200 m in overall diameter (the international Space Station (ISS) is 73 m long and 109 m wide); and an estimated mass of 2,418 metric tons (ISS: 419 tons)
24 modules have been allocated as habitation, each measuring 12 meters in diameter and 20 meters long. Each module offers a total of 500 m2 of habitable surface spread over 3 floors and at least 12 modules will be dedicated to hotel rooms and suites.
There will be 126 m2 luxury suits, 62m2 luxury rooms, and 30 sm2 standard rooms. The maximum station occupancy is from 316 to 440 people, depending on the final module configuration.
While the concept of space tourism may sound ludicrous, plans to launch people into space as a vacation vs. a vocation are well underway.
John Blincow, chief executive of Orbital Assembly, told The Washington Post that he believes it could take just a year or two to assemble Voyager Station.
Tourists will need to undergo some safety and physical before boarding their SpaceX Starship shuttle to Voyager Station.
Blincow plans to work with world-renowned chefs who will have the chance to build out (electric and fire-free) kitchens for the space station.
“It’s a historic moment,” Blincow said. “You’re going to have the top chefs making really, really good food. And when you pay $5 million to go someplace, it’s not going to be burgers and fries.”
A trip to the first space hotel should cost $5 million for about 3½ days orbiting the Earth. That sum may sound extreme, but it’s exponentially cheaper than other up-and-coming opportunities for private citizens.
For example, the first would-be spaceflight crew made up of private citizens each paid $55 million a ticket for Axiom Space’s trip up to the ISS for eight days.
Even at the current earth-shattering price tag, travelers are eager for space tourism. More than 600 people have placed deposits, topping $80 million in total, for Virgin Galactic’s upcoming space opportunities, and thousands more are on a waitlist.
Roman & Erica, a travel company for ultrawealthy clients, started working with Axiom Space in 2018 to find people interested in paying the huge sare for space tourism.
Once 2020 showed potential space tourists how unpredictable life can be, the idea didn’t seem so crazy anymore.
Space tourism is becoming closer to reality than ever before and some companies such as Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic are relatively affordable by comparison, charging an estimated $250,000 per seat.
For most space enthusiasts, those prices are out of reach.
The rotating structure Voyager Station will have artificial gravity, so tourists won’t float through the place, but guests need to be careful when jumping because you’re in lunar gravity, “when you jump in the air, you jump five times higher,” Blincow said.
That jumping can be done in Voyager Station’s gymnasium, an area where space tourists can work out or play games. Blincow said the gymnasium will also be an entertainment venue for rock stars and talk-show hosts.
“We want to have Sting come up and play, and Beyoncé,” Blincow said. “There’ll be two shows every night. … That’s part of the entertainment package.”
But the actual star of the show will be the opportunity for hotel guests to leave Voyager Station and do a spacewalk.
On the ground, UAE’s hospitality is rebounding
UAE hotels preparing for a V-shaped recovery, after vaccine rollout and herd immunity, take effect, buoyed by stats revealed by STR, a group that provides market data on the hotel industry worldwide.
Danielle Curtis, Exhibition Director ME, Arabian Travel Market, said, “According to STR data, the Middle East region was a top performer globally during 2020, with an average occupancy of 45.9%. One of the best-performing countries was the UAE with an average occupancy of 51.7% and an average daily rate (ADR) of $114.”
“Although these figures were 29.3% & 16.5% down Year on Year (yoy), given the challenges presented by the pandemic, it is a remarkable achievement and proves just how resilient the hotel sector is in the UAE and wider Middle East.”
Over the New Year’s celebrations hotels in Dubai were running average occupancies of 76% with an average daily rate (ADR) of $300.
Indeed, more positives can be drawn from a recent YouGov luxury survey which revealed that 52% were planning to take a domestic holiday or staycation during 2021 and a further 25% were planning to make a business trip, either domestically or internationally, with only 4% having no plans to travel anywhere in 2021.