BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
This application claims priority to U.S. Provisional Application Ser. No. 60/701,298, filed Jul. 21, 2005.
The present invention relates generally to hotels and more particularly to a hotel area particularly well-suited to family reunions and similar events.
Generally, hotels are designed around the model of individual business travelers, each staying separately and segregated as much as possible from one another. Small immediate families can stay in the same room, and larger immediate families or a few extended family members can even stay in connected rooms, but the rooms are designed and arranged with the assumption that the guests will be in the rooms almost exclusively for sleeping, but socializing somewhere else. Families (or other groups) larger than are allowed in a couple connected rooms are segregated as much as strangers.
Family reunions, where numerous generations of extended family gather for food and talk, are often held outside in a picnic-like arrangement. This can be difficult for family members with children because the lack of barriers outdoors means that the children can roam anywhere unless closely supervised, and the large number of people gathered together in the area makes supervising the children difficult. The supervision of the children can interfere with the ability to freely visit with everyone at the family reunion.
- SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
Family reunions are normally scheduled for one day on a weekend, and many of the members will be traveling from out of town for the family reunion. However, even the family members who stay at the same hotel are segregated in the same manner as strange traveling salesman by the general layout and arrangement of the hotel rooms. The opportunity for visitation and socialization the night before and the morning before the family reunion is lost because of this arrangement.
A hotel area designed for family reunions and the like includes a large common area from which each of a plurality of bedrooms is accessible. The bedrooms each include one or two beds and a bathroom. The common area is substantially larger than the bedrooms (i.e. sized to accommodate at least the number of people that can be accommodated in all the bedrooms). The common area includes a large kitchen area, suitable for preparing food for all of the people. A play area (indoor or outdoor) is accessible only via the common area and the kitchen area is preferably located between the play area and the common doorway, to prevent little children from wandering away.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
Thus, the common area provides a natural, casual gathering area for the guests of the bedrooms. The minimal amenities in the bedrooms encourage the guests into the common area, such as the kitchen. Other features and benefits are explained more fully below.
Other advantages of the present invention can be understood by reference to the following detailed description when considered in connection with the accompanying drawings wherein:
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF A PREFERRED EMBODIMENT
FIG. 1 illustrates one example layout of a hotel area according to the present invention.
A layout of a hotel 10 designed in accordance with the present invention is shown in FIG. 1. The hotel 10 includes a traditional front desk 12 having a reservation, room assignment, registration and security computer system 14. The front desk 12 may be located in a lobby 16 of the hotel 10. The hotel 10 may include traditional, segregated hotel rooms 18 separated by hallways and each having separate doors with separate, independent locks opening into the common hallway, as in a traditional hotel arrangement.
The hotel 10 further includes a family reunion area 20 having a large common area 22 accessible from the hallway (or lobby 16) or other publicly accessible area via a limited (preferably one) number of doorways 24 (not including fire exits that may sound an alarm if opened and cannot be opened from the public area). The doorway 24 has a door and lock accessible by the family members and cannot be opened by the public.
A plurality of hotel rooms 26 are arranged about the common area 22 and each is accessible via a door 28, each having a separately keyed lock. The keys for each lock (such as key cards or other computer-readable media) also unlock the common door 24. If programmable keys (key cards, bar codes or other media) are used, then the computer system 14 provides the codes and programs the keys and/or the aforementioned doors such that they operate in the manner described above.
Each hotel room 26 includes the minimum facilities for a hotel room 26, i.e. a bed 32 and bathroom 28—no television, no microwave, no refrigerator, etc. Alternatively, some such amenities could be provided in the rooms 26 or at least some of the rooms 26. The common area 22 is much larger than the hotel rooms 26, and may be on the order of the sum of the adjoining hotel rooms 26 or larger. By minimizing amenities in the individual rooms and moving those amenities to the common area 22, guests are drawn together into the common area 22 and the overall space of the family reunion area 20 is reduced.
The rooms 26 can be different sizes. One or more of the hotel rooms 26 a may be a “grandparents suite.” The grandparents suite includes an extra large bed 32 a (for example, having an area approximately two or three times larger than a standard king size bed), so that the grandparents can read or tell a story to all the grandkids and great-grandkids on the bed 32 a.
The common area 22 may include a very large kitchen area 40 having kitchen appliances 42 (oven, cooktop, refrigerator, microwave, etc) and counters 44. The common area 22 may also include a video conference system 45, so that family members who were unable to attend can “meet” with some of the family members at the reunion. The common area 22 may include some entertainment areas, such as a hot tub 46 or small pool. Although only one is illustrated, many table and chair arrangements 48 would be provided in the common area 22, such as up to the capacity of the rooms 26.
One or more play areas 50, 52 are connected to the common area 22. The play areas 50, 52 preferably do not have doorways directly to public areas of the hotel 10. Children in the play areas 50, 52 cannot wander away from the family reunion without passing through the common area 22 and strangers cannot enter the play areas 50, 52. For this reason, the kitchen area 40 is preferably located in view of the path between the play areas 50, 52 and the doorway 24 to the family reunion area 20. The play areas 50, 52 include playground equipment such as basketball nets 54 and swings 56. The play areas 50, 52 may be indoor or outdoor, or one of each (so at least one is always usable in any weather).
In use on the family reunion weekend, the family members can sleep, shower and dress in their own hotel room 26 but can quickly and easily gather in the common area 22 without prior planning. Parents can meet with other family members more comfortably knowing that their children cannot wander off without passing through the common area and passing by the kitchen area 40 through the doorway 24. For naps and/or bedtime, the children can sleep securely in the rooms 26 while the parents are in the common area 22.
To organize a family reunion, an organizer in the family can reserve the family reunion area 20 for the family by calling the hotel or a central reservation number. An employee of the hotel (or at the central reservation number) reserves the family reunion area 20 using the computer system 14. Members of the family can then call and reserve rooms 26 in the reserved family reunion area 20 by giving the family name(s). The rooms 26 are paid for by the individual members. The charges for the rooms 26 covers the cost of the common area 22. Alternatively, a separate fee can be charged to reserve the family reunion area 20. Alternatively, this option can be decided by the organizer (i.e. whether distribute a charge for the family reunion area 20 across the rooms 26). However, it is anticipated that it will be unnecessary to charge any substantial additional fees for the rooms 26 to cover the common area 22.
Many variations on the particular example shown in FIG. 1 and described above would be within the scope of the invention. Of course, depending upon the size of the hotel and local demand, more than one of the family reunion areas 20 of varying sizes may be provided in the same hotel.
In accordance with the provisions of the patent statutes and jurisprudence, exemplary configurations described above are considered to represent a preferred embodiment of the invention. However, it should be noted that the invention can be practiced otherwise than as specifically illustrated and described without departing from its spirit or scope. Alphanumeric identifiers on method steps are for convenient reference in dependent claims and do not signify a required sequence of performance unless otherwise indicated in the claims.