The Robotel: Welcome to the Japan hotel staffed by robot dinosaurs



The reception at the Henn na Hotel east of Tokyo is eerily quiet until guests approach the robot dinosaurs manning the front desk. Their sensors detect the motion and they bellow "Welcome".

It might be about the weirdest check-in experience possible, but that's exactly the point at the Henn na (whose name means 'weird') chain, which bills itself as offering the world's first hotels staffed by robots.

The front desk staff are a pair of giant dinosaurs that look like cast members of the Jurassic Park movies, except for the tiny bellboy hats perched on their heads.

The robo-dinos process check-ins through a tablet system that also allows customers to choose which language - Japanese, English, Chinese or Korean - they want to use to communicate with the multilingual robots.

The effect is bizarre, with the large dinosaurs gesticulating with their arms and issuing tinny set phrases. Yukio Nagai, manager at the Henn na Hotel Maihama Tokyo Bay, admits some guests find it slightly unnerving.

"We haven't quite figured out when exactly the guests want to be served by people, and when it's okay to be served by robots," he said.

But for other guests the novelty is the charm: each room is staffed with mini-robots that look a bit like spherical Star Wars droid BB-8, and help guests with everything from changing channels to playing music.

Even the fish swimming in the lobby run on batteries, with electric lights in their articulated bodies flickering on and off as they work their way around giant tanks.

"The dinosaurs looked intriguing, and I thought my son would love it," said Chigusa Hosoi, who was at the hotel with her three year old.

"My son is really happy. There's an egg-shaped robot inside the room. He was playing with it a lot."

The first Henn na Hotel opened in Nagasaki in 2015, and was certified the following year by Guinness World Records as the world's first hotel with robots on its staff.

The travel agency group that operates the chain now runs eight hotels across the country, all with robots on the staff, some of them dinosaurs, but others taking a more humanoid shape.

Some humans are also on call to intervene in case of glitches, which customer reviews online suggest are not infrequent.

But Mr Nagai said relying on robots for everything from front desk duty to cleaning had proved an efficient choice in a country with a shrinking labour market.

"It's becoming difficult to secure enough labour at hotels. To solve that problem, we have robots serving guests."

THE DEALS

Hamilton $60m x 2 = $120m

Vettel $45m x 2 = $90m

Ricciardo $35m x 2 = $70m

Verstappen $55m x 3 = $165m

Leclerc $20m x 2 = $40m

TOTAL $485m

THE BIO: Mohammed Ashiq Ali

Proudest achievement: “I came to a new country and started this shop”

Favourite TV programme: the news

Favourite place in Dubai: Al Fahidi. “They started the metro in 2009 and I didn’t take it yet.”

Family: six sons in Dubai and a daughter in Faisalabad

 

The specs

Engine: 6.2-litre V8

Transmission: seven-speed auto

Power: 420 bhp

Torque: 624Nm

Price: from Dh293,200

On sale: now

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First ODI - Sunday, June 4
Second ODI - Tuesday, June 6
Third ODI - Friday, June 9

Matches at Sharjah Cricket Stadium. All games start at 4.30pm

UAE squad
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Director: Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah

Starring: Will Smith, Martin Lawrence, Joe Pantoliano

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Name: HyveGeo
Started: 2023
Founders: Abdulaziz bin Redha, Dr Samsurin Welch, Eva Morales and Dr Harjit Singh
Based: Cambridge and Dubai
Number of employees: 8
Industry: Sustainability & Environment
Funding: $200,000 plus undisclosed grant
Investors: Venture capital and government

COMPANY PROFILE

Company: Eco Way
Started: December 2023
Founder: Ivan Kroshnyi
Based: Dubai, UAE
Industry: Electric vehicles
Investors: Bootstrapped with undisclosed funding. Looking to raise funds from outside

COMPANY PROFILE

Name: Ejari
Based: Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
Founders: Yazeed Al Shamsi, Fahad Albedah, Mohammed Alkhelewy and Khalid Almunif
Sector: PropTech
Total funding: $1 million
Investors: Sanabil 500 Mena, Hambro Perks' Oryx Fund and angel investors
Number of employees: 8

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COMPANY PROFILE

Company name: Revibe
Started: 2022
Founders: Hamza Iraqui and Abdessamad Ben Zakour
Based: UAE
Industry: Refurbished electronics
Funds raised so far: $10m
Investors: Flat6Labs, Resonance and various others

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Company profile

Company name: Fasset
Started: 2019
Founders: Mohammad Raafi Hossain, Daniel Ahmed
Based: Dubai
Sector: FinTech
Initial investment: $2.45 million
Current number of staff: 86
Investment stage: Pre-series B
Investors: Investcorp, Liberty City Ventures, Fatima Gobi Ventures, Primal Capital, Wealthwell Ventures, FHS Capital, VN2 Capital, local family offices

Company Profile

Name: Ovasave
Started: November 2022
Founders: Majd Abu Zant and Torkia Mahloul
Based: Abu Dhabi
Sector: Healthtech
Number of staff: Three employees
Investment stage: Pre-seed
Investment: $400,000

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Round 1: Beat Leolia Jeanjean 6-1, 6-2
Round 2: Beat Naomi Osaka 7-6, 1-6, 7-5
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Quarter-final: Beat Marketa Vondrousova 6-0, 6-2
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The specs

Engine: 5.2-litre V10

Power: 640hp at 8,000rpm

Torque: 565Nm at 6,500rpm

Transmission: 7-speed dual-clutch auto

Price: From Dh1 million

On sale: Q3 or Q4 2022

FIGHT CARD

Featherweight 4 rounds:
Yousuf Ali (2-0-0) (win-loss-draw) v Alex Semugenyi (0-1-0)
Welterweight 6 rounds:
Benyamin Moradzadeh (0-0-0) v Rohit Chaudhary (4-0-2)
Heavyweight 4 rounds:
Youssef Karrar (1-0-0) v Muhammad Muzeei (0-0-0)
Welterweight 6 rounds:
Marwan Mohamad Madboly (2-0-0) v Sheldon Schultz (4-4-0)
Super featherweight 8 rounds:
Bishara Sabbar (6-0-0) v Mohammed Azahar (8-5-1)
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Mohammed Bekdash (25-0-0) v Musa N’tege (8-4-0)
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Sultan Al Nuaimi (9-0-0) v Jemsi Kibazange (18-6-2)
Lightweight 10 rounds:
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Heavyweight: Renan Ferreira v Ryan Bader
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Heavyweight: Bruno Cappelozza (former PFL World champ) v Vadim Nemkov (former Bellator champ)
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Featherweight: Abdullah Al Qahtani v Edukondal Rao
Amateur Flyweight: Malik Basahel v Vinicius Pereira

Company Profile

Company name: Cargoz
Date started: January 2022
Founders: Premlal Pullisserry and Lijo Antony
Based: Dubai
Number of staff: 30
Investment stage: Seed

The cost of Covid testing around the world

Egypt

Dh514 for citizens; Dh865 for tourists

Information can be found through VFS Global.

Jordan

Dh212

Centres include the Speciality Hospital, which now offers drive-through testing.

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Dh478

Travel tests are managed by the Ministry of Health and National Institute of Public Health.

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AED 295

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Abu Dhabi

Dh85

Abu Dhabi’s Seha has test centres throughout the UAE.

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From Dh400

Heathrow Airport now offers drive through and clinic-based testing, starting from Dh400 and up to Dh500 for the PCR test.

Company profile

Company name: Leap
Started: March 2021
Founders: Ziad Toqan and Jamil Khammu
Based: Dubai
Sector: FinTech
Investment stage: Pre-seed
Funds raised: Undisclosed
Current number of staff: Seven

Specs: 2024 McLaren Artura Spider

Engine: 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6 and electric motor
Max power: 700hp at 7,500rpm
Max torque: 720Nm at 2,250rpm
Transmission: Eight-speed dual-clutch auto
0-100km/h: 3.0sec
Top speed: 330kph
Price: From Dh1.14 million ($311,000)
On sale: Now