If you’re in Vegas right now for CES, there’s a good chance you’re sitting in a hotel room sipping from a hotel-supplied bottle of water as you read this. Sadly, most of us do it, despite knowing the wastefulness of single-use plastic.
But I get it; Vegas’s dry air makes us thirsty, and, let’s face it, hotels aren’t great at providing in-room solutions for filtered water. (And also: have you ever tasted Vegas tap water?)
Here’s the thing though: more and more of us are moving through the day with our own reusable water bottles, and if we just had an in-room solution we’d fill up there before heading out to conquer our day.
Well if you’re staying at the Conrad New York this coming March, you’ll actually have the chance to fill your bottle water up with filtered (not to mention fizzy and flavored) water in-room. That’s because the swanky NYC hotel is going to put a Rocean smart water machine in every one of the hotel’s 463 rooms for a limited time.
The ritzy chain decided to give the water machines a go after a 40 day pilot this past November-December where they installed a Rocean in a single room. According to Rocean’s Chief Commercial Officer Andre Jaquet, guests in the room consumed 1.2 liters of water per day from the Rocean on average, the equivalent of 5-6 hotel-furnished single use plastic water bottles. Hotel management ran the numbers and realized, over the course of a year, they could eliminate about 1 million plastic water bottles from going into the waste stream.
One million plastic water bottles is a lot of water bottles. Extrapolate that across the tens of thousands of hotels in the US that provide single-use plastic water to guests, and you can see how big an impact these types of solutions could make if widely deployed.
Sadly, there are some business model inhibitors to making this happen, namely that lots of hotels charge guests for water bottles. But Rocean envisions a future where hotels could charge for extras like flavors and other add-ins like caffeine or nutrients that could replace the income from selling single-use plastic.
Friend of The Spoon Richard Gunther, who looked at the Rocean for the Spoon in 2018, told me what he likes most about the machine is it can be plumbed directly into your own water system. “That makes it really easy to use,” he said.
What I like most about the Rocean is the product’s aesthetics. Like many, I’m finding my kitchen countertop increasingly crowded, and if I’m going to put another device in my kitchen, it had better look good.
This one does, in no small part due to a former architect. Unlike so many of the high profile connected consumer products coming out of Silicon Valley nowadays, the product’s design wasn’t the result of some engagement with a high-priced design firm like Frog or IDEO, but instead it was the brainchild of architect-by-training and cofounder Mohini Boparai.
Boparai and husband, CEO Sunjay Guleria, conceived of the concept for the Rocean when living in India and Amsterdam and trying out different seltzer makers and filtration systems. They soon began to think about the impact a good built-in filter and carbonation system could make on reducing plastic, and soon Rocean was born.
If you aren’t traveling to New York soon to stay at the Conrad, you’ll be able to buy a Rocean smart water dispenser for your home soon. The machines, which had originally expected to ship in December of 2018, are now on track for a spring 2020 shipment after a $6 million venture infusion from investment firm Blue and a handful of celebrity angels like John Legend and South African DJ Black Coffee.
The machines will sell for $349, which will come with a starter of a couple flavors and a CO2 canister. Additional flavor add-ins and CO2 refill canisters will be available through the company’s website.