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A new hotel opening in Hong Kong’s Tsim Sha Tsui East neighborhood on 21 September is really one with a difference.

The Hotel ICON is owned by the Hong Kong Polytechnic University and helps educate students at the School of Hotel & Tourism Management. But this is no bare bones facility. Top architects and designers like Terence Conran and Vivienne Tam were recruited to create the restaurants and suites, and the general manager comes to the hotel from the luxury Shangri-La chain of hotels.

With the private member’s dining room, open-air pool and Angsana Spa, hotel guests may never realize they are part of a learning experience. But 100 interns from the school will be working alongside the professional hotel staff to get on-the-job training and mentoring.

To push the future of hotels forward, three of the 262 guest rooms are soon-to-be-completed Prototype Rooms, which will contain products and components from three areas of research: design, innovation and lifestyle. Upon check in, guests will be asked if they would like to stay in one of the rooms (if available) to help “test drive” the rooms outfitted with concepts from the PolyU’s design school and new technologies like a Cyber Tecture mirror, an interactive, intelligent mirror that is connected to the Internet and displays news, weather and more. Guests promise to fill out a survey afterward. The rooms are priced the same as the regular rooms — it is a for-profit hotel — and the data collected will be used in the school’s research.

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