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The other week, we were reading an article in New York mag about Brooklyn's Northside Festival, a neighborhood-wide music, movie, and tech festival that gets underway tomorrow. We mainly glossed over the parts about sponsorships and tickets sales and how it will be "unlike a traditional music festival," but one line in particular caught our eye, about a "hacker challenge" set to take place at the Wythe Hotel.
Not being hackers ourselves, but endlessly amused by the concept of them, we asked the hotel to elaborate a bit.
It turns out the Wythe will indeed be hosting a two-day technology conference (this Friday and Saturday), including an event called the "Hackathon," which is every bit as awesome as it sounds. According to the hotel:
"Essentially, Northside Next Festival hosting a panel/team building session at Wythe (in the screening room) on Friday night about the future of healthcare. Then, over the next 24 hours, members of the NYC hacking community will move to Third Ward [a nearby arts community center] and work to build apps to help people to engage with their healthcare in a more meaningful & regulated way."
Sound geeky enough for you? If hacking—or watching people hack—is your thing, then plan on moseying down to the Brooklyn hotel this weekend for a eyeful of keyboard-tapping and code-writing. We also recommend breaking up the day with a nice cold drink on the Wythe's sixth-floor rooftop bar. We have a feeling the crowds will be right up your alley.
Hotel Tech / Hotel Amenities / Tech Hotels / Aloft Hotels / Hotel News / Hotel Technology / Hotel Keycards / Hotel Check-In / → All Tags
The back of a sample Aloft Smart Check-In keycard
It turns out that the number of people who check-out of hotels the old-fashioned way is shrinking at an alarming rate. But what about checking in? Are people in such a hurry these days that they can't bear the thought of waiting in line to get their keycard and be told which room is theirs?
In a word, yes. Judging from the popularity of Aloft's smart check-in program, people seriously value convenience over a face-to-face welcome. And the numbers speak for themselves: last month, the program reached 10,000 users, even though only a limited number of Aloft hotels are equipped to use it.
This year, Smart Check-In is set to expand to even more properties all over the world. In case you're considering signing up, here are some fast facts on how the whole thing works.
Tech-related amenities have been a huge part of the hotel industry for some years now, though you'd never know it from a recent NY Times article that ran last week, titled "Electronic 'Smarts' at Hotels Attract Guests." In it, the writer marvels at hotel features like loanable iPads, anti-towel-theft devices, and, of all things, Twitter—concepts that might once have had our ears perking up, but these days make us go, 'Yeah. So?'
The article cites Webby Media Group president David-Michel Davies, who "found that hotels were using technology as a substitute for human hospitality." Not to rain on his parade or anything—this is indeed good news (digital room amenities like the SLS "Bring Me Bubbles" app always make us smile); the trouble is, it's not really news.
One woman referenced the bonus SPG points, free cocktail, and spa discount she received just by "checking in" to the hotel via Foursquare. She was quoted as saying, "It's a clever way for hotels to get guests to explore the hotel." Clever, yes. But novel? Hardly.
Like most frequent travelers, we've had trouble in the past with the infamous hotel lost and found. We know we left it in the room, but where is it now? Do hotel maids really steal all our stuff, or is there a trapdoor somewhere between the room and the lost goodie bin?
Travelers have been trying to solve this mystery for years, and while we certainly have to split the difference in terms of who's to blame (we left it there, after all), we can all agree that there is, at times, something going on behind the scenes that prevents our lost from being found.
In comes a new service, Chargerback.com, that hopes to help remedy this on-going problem. And like most solutions these days, it takes the entire process online. In this case, retrieving a lost item is, supposedly, just a few clicks away. Free to use, guests submit their lost item and stay information to the hotel via Chargerback's website. The catch? The hotel also must enter the found item's description into Chargerback, so there's gotta be some cooperation here. If there is a match, the system notifies the two parties. Hooray!
Here's the latest happening in the luxury hotel world as told by JustLuxe's own Lena Katz. Got a question about luxury hotels, the travel biz, and where to stay? Send it in and we'll have Lena answer it.
We can't help but notice lately the growing number of fancy remotes cropping up in rooms at luxury properties all over the place — and we like it.
On a recent visit over to The New York Palace we discovered another fun little gadget from Crestron that controlled our room's expanse of black out curtains and roman shades with a button tap and set the mood with lighting options like relax and evening (which is just fancy talk to for off and dimmed). This particular one was even kind enough to let us know when someone was at the door (see above). Pretty neat, although an added built-in camera would've impressed the hell out of us.
Only thing is, we couldn't quite how to figure out how it all worked, despite the little pamphlet that came with it. The media button didn't seem to control any kind of media and it certainly wasn't the iPod docking station we thought it was. Yet the volume setting makes us think perhaps we're just not hip enough to understand such high-tech equipment as it's obviously meant to pump up the volume on something. But we're going to keep trying, because it's just so darn fun to press buttons and see what they do.
Hotel Amenities / Hotel Tech / Hotel TVs / In-Room Movies / Tech Hotels / Aloft Hotels / California Hotels / Starwood Hotels / → All Tags
Here's one advantage to being located next to Apple's headquarters in Cupertino, CA: Aloft Cupertino, which opened yesterday, is now the first Aloft hotel to feature Apple TV devices in all 123 guest rooms. This is great news for anyone not interested in paying $15-$20 just to watch an in-room movie (ie, us, and pretty much everyone else).
The ingenious little box-shaped devices (pictured) basically allow you to stream music, TV shows and movies on iTunes, Netflix, Hulu or MBL.com straight from your Apple device onto an HD TV.
So while it's a handy thing to keep around the house, it works just as well—if not better—in a hotel. Wanna order room service while running through all the episodes of Downton Abbey? Or watch the Angels vs. Giants game in your bathtub? Or sing (loudly) along with the cast of Glee? The possibilities are endless.
And if being able to stream all your favorite media for free wasn't enough, the hotel will make things easier by resetting the boxes each time a guest checks out (that way, your account settings won't be compromised). Aloft will even go ahead and sync up iTunes to match whatever country you're from
Of course, you'll need reliable WiFi to actually access the content on your iPhone, iPad or iPod. And luckily, Aloft is one of the upstanding brands that offers it free.
Will Hyatt Hotels get new lobby "Smartboards" and other tech toys like these?
It looks like Hyatt Hotels is finally getting serious about their technology offerings. Late yesterday, the hotel group appointed Alex Zoghlin as their first-ever Global Head of Technology. You may know Zoghlin from another job he held--as founder and first employee of Orbitz.com, the online travel agency.
Now at Hyatt Zoghlin will be in charge of "all aspects of Hyatt’s technology platform and systems" and will be responsible for "rapidly deploying innovative technology solutions to enable superior guest experiences."
While we're picturing a James Bond-ish role like Peninsula Hotel's version of Q, where new in-room technology gets pioneered in a secret lab outside of Hong Kong, the reality is the job will probably deal with Hyatt's reservations systems and possibly new smartphone and tablet apps. We will also probably see more tech offerings like the ones recently installed at the Hyatt Regency in Chicago which now has 106 plasma TV monitors in the lobby and 800 wireless access points throughout the hotel.
Still, we won't give up hope there could be some newfangled tech gadgets at Hyatt Hotels in the near future. Perhaps one to ensure that housekeeping does not bust in on you while you're half-naked?
[Photo: Chanize Thorpe for HotelChatter]
If these floors could talk...
Today, CNN reports on a rather inventive "hotel room of the future" model that's been dreamed up in Spain by the SerranoBrothers design studio in conjunction with the Instituto Tecnologico Hotelero. Unsurprisingly, the room is full of gadgets like Bang & Olufsen audio equipment, Microsoft tablets, Roca radio mirrors, touch-sensitive transparent screens, and best, of all, walls that actually talk back to you.
Yes, that's right. The hotel rooms of the future will not only provide us with beds to sleep in and bathrooms to wash, but will also greet us in the morning, and remind us of our appointments for the day. Kind of like that 1980s TV show Knight Rider but without any of David Hasselhoff's witty comebacks and cool leather jackets.
Read on to find out what else the "ITH Room Xperience" offers!
It's no surprise that Cali is always on the cutting edge when it comes to technology, but even we were stumped when we first heard about Hotel Abri's "iPad wall". We knew it had to be gimmicky in some sort of way, but hopefully helpful, too.
The "wall", which is located in the hotel's lobby, holds five iPads loaded with the latest and best apps out there to help guests tour San Francisco. There's a bunch of best of lists, links to Alcatraz tickets, details on Napa tours, games and more.
Along with the iPad wall, Hotel Abri has a "Tech Menu" for guests who've forgotten important items at home. Need to borrow a phone or laptop charger? They've got it. How about some ear buds, speakers, or a flash drive? Yeah, they've got those for you, too. All for free. Love it so much you want to keep it? They'll sell it to you, no problem.
And of course, your room, with its free 100 Megs of WiFi, will be laced with all the bells and whistles, from the in-room iPod/iPad docking clock radio to the new iPhone 5 adapters (whew!).
Rates at Hotel Abri begin at $279 per night in February.
[Photo: Hotel Abri]
There’s been so much activity on the hotel app front this past year that we named it the Must-Have Hotel Amenity in our HotelChatter 2012 Awards. From booking stays and checking in, to ordering room service and finding things to do and see at your destination, it’s all a click away. There is of course the front desk or traditional concierge you can prod for more personal recommendations, but what to do when you are looking to get the true insider track on the city you’re visiting based on your own interests?
Enter the concept created by Plus One Berlin, which allows you to book time with one of over 30 locals and be their “plus one” when getting to know the city. Here’s how it all works.
HotelChatter 2012 Awards / Hotel Amenities / Hotel Tech / Hotel Apps / iPhone Apps / Tech Hotels / Hotel Booking Apps / Hotel Technology / → All Tags
It's that time of year again: the 2012 HotelChatter Awards! Today and Monday, we'll be showcasing the best (and worst) of hotels over the past year. But we couldn't do it without you! Let us know your thoughts in the comments below, or shoot us an email. And the Award goes to...
Hotel WiFi has been an important part of our coverage here for a while now (remember that little thing called the HotelChatter WiFi Report?). But what happens once you've logged in and connected to the world wide web? Are you Instagramming shots of your room? Are you looking up restaurant reviews on Yelp? Maybe you're eschewing the DVD players of yore and pulling up episodes of Boardwalk Empire on HBOGO?
Either way, when trying to come up with this year's must-have hotel amenity, it seemed like a no-brainer: in 2012, hotel apps were where it's at..
Hotel Amenities / Hotels with iPads / Hotel iPads / Hotel Apps / SLS Hotels / Miami Hotel Mambo / Hotel Tech / Room Service / Hotel Champagne / → All Tags
Yesterday, we showed you a newfangled device that helps guests suss out all the dining/beverage/activites options available in the hotel they're staying at. But what if you're so darn
lazy comfortable that you'd just rather not leave your room at all?
Well, the obvious answer is: room service.
But SLS South Beach takes that notion one step further, with a new feature on the hotel's app called "Bring Me Bubbles." With the tap of an iPad screen, you can rush-order a $50 bottle of Avinyo Cava or, if you're feeling generous, then perhaps a $148 bottle of Lanson Ivory Label Demi-Sec Champagne—and it'll show up at your door in less than 20 minutes.