Virtual reality vacation
Video game-themed hotel plugs into Austin with next-level amenities
Atari helped pioneer the video game industry in the 1970s and ’80s. Now, the iconic brand behind games such as Pong, Centipede, and Asteroids is lending its name to a chain of next-level hotels in the U.S. — including one planned for Austin.
Paris-based interactive gaming company Atari has licensed its name to Phoenix-based strategy agency GSD Group for video game-themed, Atari-branded hotels in Austin and seven other U.S. cities. GSD Group is affiliated with the Woz Innovation Foundation, established by Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak.
“Together we’ll build a space that will be much more than just a place to stay,” Fred Chesnais, CEO of Atari, says in a January 27 release. “Atari is an iconic global brand that resonates with people of all ages, countries, cultures, and ethnic backgrounds, and we cannot wait for our fans and their families to enjoy this new hotel concept.”
The first Atari property will be built in Phoenix by real estate developer True North Studio; groundbreaking is set for mid-2020.
A timeline and a site for the proposed Austin property haven’t been disclosed. “We are in the very early stages of planning and don’t have many more details to share at this time,” a representative of Atari Hotels tells CultureMap.
Each hotel will feature an Atari gaming playground with virtual reality and augmented reality capabilities, meeting and event spaces, coworking spaces, restaurants, bars, a bakery, a movie theater, and a gym. Certain Atari hotels also will house studios and venues for esports events.
Shelly Murphy, founder of GSD Group, and Napoleon Smith III, a GSD Group partner and producer of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film franchise, are steering design and development of the Atari hotels. Aside from Austin and Phoenix, hotels are planned for Chicago; Denver; Las Vegas; San Francisco; Seattle; and San Jose, California.
“Atari Hotels will be the first of their kind in the U.S., offering gamers of all ages the ultimate in immersive entertainment and in every aspect of gaming,” Murphy says in the release.
Smith adds: “When creating this brand-new hotel concept, we knew that Atari would be the perfect way to give guests the ‘nostalgic and retro meets modern’ look and feel we were going for. Let’s face it, how cool will it be to stay inside an Atari?!”
Atari says it retains the right to develop similar properties in other cities in the U.S. and elsewhere around the world.