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June 29, 2007

YOTEL, the revolutionary cross between luxury airline travel and Japanese capsule hotels, has finally made its much-anticipated arrival in Gatwick Airport, London.  Founder Simon Woodroffe named it after his other successful venture, YO! Sushi and made it his aim to provide travelers with a taste of the future, described by him as “luxury that is available to everybody at the right cost.”

The “pod” hotel style has before now only been prevalent in Japan, but it makes so much sense to let the rest of the world have a try.

First it plays off the unfortunate state of the airline industry being at an all-time high of cancelled and/or delayed flights and lowered customer satisfaction. People can book a Yotel cabin while they find themselves waiting (expectedly or otherwise) and relax in quarters other than the stiff, sticky chairs available at the gate.

More importantly, if marks the official arrival of the low cost luxury era. Whether it’s the airlines themselves (Song, Jet Blue) or online travel sites enabling us to book 4-star hotels at 2-star prices, or Target, HEMA (Holland), Muji (Japan) and Costco and Trader Joe’s in the supermarket sector, it’s certain that luxury for cheap is here in full effect.

The trend doesn’t stop at offering top quality products for lower prices. It also encompasses an appreciation for design and/or superior customer service, which is exactly what the Yotel is – rooms range from 55 to 80 pounds overnight and everything (and more than what) you’d expect from a first class hotel experience.

What does this mean for the U.S.? Expansion plans so far do not include us.  Was it a strategic decision?  There are surely barriers to entry like our strict airport security, as well as competition from the well-known hotels that have populated airport areas since the beginning of time.

But the U.S. now more than ever is abandoning traditional status symbols and embracing the new cheap-chic. Furthermore, other cultures are spreading like wildfire in our d�cor, cuisine, and fashion. If the country of chicken nuggets and grilled cheese grew obsessed with slabs of raw fish and balls of sticky rice, why wouldn’t it embrace other elements of Japanese culture too?

Obviously the minds behind the brand new Pod Hotel in Midtown Manhattan could think of no good reason.

Hurry, Woodroffe!

Posted by katie facada

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