Enlightenment-era scientists figured out how light travels when it hits a concave lens. However, hotel architects in Las Vegas may have misread the memo when they designed the Vdara Hotel.
The circular shapes of light that reflect onto the pools at the Vdara may be meant to act like a welcoming gesture for guests, but in some cases they merely resulted in painful sunburns. Ones that led Chicago attorney Bill Pintas to exclaim, “Within 30 seconds, the back of my legs were burning. My first thought was, ‘Jesus, they destroyed the ozone layer” to the Daily Mail.
So how did this happen? The design of the hotel includes a large number of window panes and when the sun strikes them they reflect back onto the pool area, creating a swath of light about 10 to 15 feet wide. Because of the design of the panes, and in spite of a special film coating the windows, it re-focuses the light and can lead to burning sensations on the skin. The extra-sunny patch moves with the sun throughout the day.
While the Vdara is working on a fix, there is a bigger lesson to keep in mind, especially in an era of increasingly extravagant hotel designs: The more glass you can see, the bigger possibility you have of receiving refracted light that could cause burns even in less-than-warm weather. Be sure to apply sunscreen based on weather reports of UVA and UVB rays, and not just the amount of cloud cover.