Hotel Sky, the newest kid on the block in Sandton, graciously
allowed us a pre-opening hotel review. This is certainly one
of the most unique hotels in Sandton – they have robots!
– a first for South Africa.
We were looking forward to our visit to Hotel Sky to experience the kind of technology that you would expect in a top-end futuristic hotel in Japan.
Being so close to the Gautrain station is superb for travellers who wish to be in the heart of South Africa’s financial district in a cutting-edge hotel with a unique blend of OTT décor. It is outrageously different with a decadently wild combination of animal skin patterns, psychedelically bright coloured birds that you’d expect in the Amazon and lush deep green forest colours against a backdrop of a digital waterfall. Massive chandeliers reflect against the huge glass façade of the building that magically transforms the ambiance at different times of the day. A self-playing Yamaha piano effortlessly tickles the ivories at your command. It can aslo play the identical tunes of world-famous artists performing live at that very moment! A sensory delight and you’ll be excused for momentarily thinking you’ve arrived in a surrealistic high-tech version of Alice in Wonderland. At Rubin’s first meeting the hotel had not opened yet, except for recently doing a Cirque du Soleil style private function for guests who enjoyed the complete escapism.
We returned two weeks later to write a travel article about the most advanced Toyota Corolla yet and the sunset orange colour of the Toyota contrasted perfectly with the classic glassed tower effect of the bold frontal façade of Hotel Sky. This striking flagship of a family of vehicles comes packed with standard high-tech features whilst many mechanical and technical improvements hide under the skin. A remarkable leap in solidity due to space age mixed metals bolsters rigidity and boosts dynamic endurance, alongside a lower mounted engine and seats, resulting in vastly improved steering responsiveness.
Transmission vibration has been reduced significantly due to the GA-C platform and even the toolbox functions as a dynamic damper to reduce rear floor panel vibration. Sound absorbing material in the engine bay and a triple-layered dashboard inner silencer minimises the penetration of noise into the cabin, resulting in probably the quietest car in its class. Our shimmering flagship sported a highly efficient and audibly unobtrusive 10-speed Shiftmatic CVT transmission matched with a responsive two-litre engine.
Marvellous technology includes Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and touchscreen interface, while an endless list of standard features would please the most demanding owners. Safety wise the electronic safety aids are what you would find in a top-end luxury car and Toyota Safety Sense (TSS) presents a full house complement of active driver aids such as blind spot monitor, automatic high-beam and a Pre-collision system.
A sophisticated car 12 generations later indeed, with revolutionised design that illustrates why the world’s best-selling car has no intention of surrendering 54 years later.
So, our Peter Pan of cars retains its fans and youthful looks and meets the funky and vibrant Hotel Sky.
Upon arrival, guests have the option of checking in at the front desk, or via computer. The hotel is set up in such a way that guests don’t have to have any human contact should they so choose. There are three unbelievably cute AI-powered robots in the hotel and their names are Ariel, Lexi and Micah. It’s important to note that they, in no way, are replacing jobs, but adding to the experience. The robots can assist with greeting guests and showing them to their rooms and will certainly delight young and old alike.
The interior is tongue in cheek and one can see the designer had fun. The lobby décor delights the senses on every level – from a waterfall projected on a huge screen, to wallpaper with oversized flowers and a self-playing piano. Large gold-framed mirrors, gold mosaic tiles and huge crystal chandeliers add sparkle.
The 453 rooms are sleek and modern. Even though they are minimal and spartan, the walls are enlivened by riotously colourful oversized printed fabric behind the beds. But this hotel isn’t just about the rooms, its also a business hotel with state-of-the-art technology and 100MB/second uncapped, unshaped Wi-Fi. There is a 190-seater auditorium, a 240-seater conference room and eleven boardrooms. Hi-Tech features consist of a ceiling filled with microphones that receive your voice and cameras that respond accordingly by following your voice. This means that anybody in the auditorium can speak and participate fully without any delay and this speaker’s image then appears on the two screens in front of the auditorium. Offsite participants can then participate remotely via Microsoft Teams and their images and voices will be crystal clear. Acoustic sound panelling in the walls covered in leopard and zebra print absorb any echo and enhances the superb sound quality in the room that does not reach the outside of the auditorium. Eclipse restaurant and the kitchen has acoustic panelling built into the floors so even a heavy iron skillet dropped on the floor would be inaudible to the rooms below.
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, so when guests need to relax, they can laze poolside sipping on something cool, or enjoy a meal at the 300-seater Equinox Restaurant for breakfast and dinner or at the 80-seater Galileo Bistro and Piano Lounge. The 240-seater Eclipse Restaurant and bar helmed by Chef Tony Kocke is open for lunch and dinner. Tony, who was awarded a Michelin Star many years ago in his native Germany, has lived in South Africa for years and his food is both beautiful and wonderfully delicious. Ingredients are seasonal and local as far as possible and portion sizes are perfect. He doesn’t believe in gimmicky food, just honest, good food, beautifully presented. An immensely likeable and gregarious man, Chef Tony is also a huge sports fan and he’s popular with guests, in no small part due to his sense of humour and conviviality.
Room service can be ordered via the hotel’s app or TV in the room and can then be delivered by one of the three robots. The kitchen places the food in a box attached to the robot and when your food arrives, the box is opened via pin code, ensuring the food cannot be tampered with or taken by someone else. How cool is that!
All the staff are incredibly friendly and approachable, from the GM to the chef and the cleaning staff. It’s a refreshing attitude and so different from other hotels where the atmosphere can be rather stuffy. It’s a hotel that’s centred around offering a fun and welcoming experience.
Offering comfort, convenience and affordability, Hotel Sky is set to raise Johannesburg’s hospitality offerings to a whole new level.