Technology

Aloft Hotel Greets South Beach With Botlr the Robot Butler

The future is now – if you’re staying at the Aloft South Beach.

The Starwood family hotel has officially opened its trendy doors to the public of Collins Avenue, and in true Aloft fashion, there’s plenty of millennially driven excitement to be enjoyed.

“We can bring high design, style and fashion to essentially the masses at a price point that’s affordable,” says Brian McGuinness, senior vice president of Starwood’s Specialty Select brands, “and one of our tenants was that it had to be tech savvy.”

For six years, Aloft hotels have pushed the technological envelope. They’ve done away with classic key cards in favor of smartphone apps that open your door and control the A/C unit, but Aloft’s latest development, an adorable robot butler named Botlr, is by far the most fun.


“It has a little bit of that from the Jetsons moment or R2D2, that type of thing that just makes people really like it,” McGuinnes says. “It’s that moment of childhood wonderment. It’s a robot, and it’s really sweet, and it looks great, and I think that adults and children alike, it just brings a smile to their face and it’s fascinating.”


Developed by Savioke and perfected by Aloft staff, Botlr is a helpful hip-level attendant happy to run you whatever your heart desires. Need a toothbrush and toothpaste? Call the front desk and they’ll send Botlr right over. Maybe you’ve got a late night sweet tooth? Botlr can bring you the Kit Kat of your dreams.

“We don’t want to take the human element out of the hotel so,” McGuinness says. “It really is to augment our talent at our hotels today and just to give better service to our customers.”

Botlr is pretty tight tech. All he needs is simple programming by the staff letting him know which room to service and he’s off. He doesn’t speak with words, but he communicates with elevators to make his journey and guest phones to make his presence known.

When he arrives at your door, you’ll get a call to answer your door, and sensors in his “head” let him know you’ve arrived. He lifts his top lid to expose whatever goodies you ordered, and when you’re finished, you can use a touch screen to rate your experience. Botlr also loves to take selfies, and as his lid announces “Tweets are appreciated.”

“We’re thrilled to be on South Beach,” McGuinness says. “We think Aloft is a great fit for it and Botlr has already been all over the place down here and feels right at home. This morning we discovered it had an ‘I love Taylor Swift’ sticker on it. We’re still trying to figure that out.”

Unfortunately for robot geeks everywhere (this author included), SoBe Botlr won’t be around after this initial opening weekend. He’s on a road trip up the East Coast, learning new terrains and building layouts as he goes, but the future looks bright.

“The vision would be that all Aloft hotels have not only one but several Botlrs in the hotels,” McGuinness says.

We can’t wait.
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Kat Bein is a freelance writer and has been described as this publication’s "senior millennial correspondent." She has an impressive, if unhealthy, knowledge of all things pop culture.