Tag: Hotel TechnologyView All Tags
You know how much we love cool hotel technology here on HotelChatter but today we're spotlighting some hotels that go far beyond offering giant flat-screen TVs, bedside control panels, TVs in the bathroom mirrors and even gold iPads. While we've yet to find a hotel that allows guests to borrow a pair of Google Glasses during their stay, these hotels are truly forward-thinking in their amenities and their experiences,except for the one that offers a cassette tape player in the room. But we had to include that one. We had to!
THE SCI FI HOTEL
Whatever sci-fi fantasy tickles your pickleperhaps plugged into the grid like in "The Matrix," abducted and organ-farmed by aliensthe 9hours Hotel in Kyoto, Japan is about as close to it in real life as you can get. The property is a simple, nearly windowless building in an alley near Kyoto's Kawaramachi Station and, like other Japanese capsule hotels, it specializes in giving the weary worker or traveler one solid night of bare-bones rest in a sparkling clean, sex-segregated environment.
Unlike other Japanese capsule hotels, however, it's prime focus is on good living through good design. Alarms are soundless; ambient lighting gradually awakens the sleeper without disturbing other capsules. Pajamas and basic toiletries are provided, and the WiFi is free (but kept out of sleeping quarters). We paid 4,900 JPY ($48) just a few days ago and would do it again, sci-fi fantasies or no.
THE AV GEEK HOTEL
Speaking of capsule hotels, Japan has actually expanded upon the concept to create a small chain of sleeping pod rooms called The First Cabin. Modeled after the semi-private quarters of airplane first-class suites, each guest is assigned one room identical to the rest. Inside is a large Sony flatscreen TV (only watchable by using the provided noise-cancelling headphones so as not to disturb others), pajamas, basic toiletries, a lockable storage drawer and several power outlets and free WiFi.
Since it's a chain, we chose the Osaka location as the geekiest owing to its libraries of manga novels and its location near Dotonbori, a mecca for foodies. Even better is they're growing; First Cabin currently has branches in Osaka, Kyoto and Tokyo's Haneda Airport, but this June they'll debut in central Tokyo's Akihabara district, a name synonymous with "otaku" or geek culture. Rates start at 3,300 JPY ($32) in Osaka and only 2,800 ($27) in Kyoto.
Workspace on Demand / Marriott Hotels / Hotel Technology / Digital Nomad Hotels / Hotel Workspaces / → All Tags
Earlier this year, Marriott Hotels began testing a new workspace program within their hotels, simply called Workspace on Demand. The program allows non-guests to rent out existing public spaces like the media pods at Courtyard by Marriotts and more traditional meeting and board rooms at other Marriott Hotels by the hour, making it convenient and affordable to hold meetings for small groups. Bookings can be made online via the Workspace on Demand website or through the LiquidSpace.com website and mobile app.
Right now, only 35 Marriott hotels offer these rentable workspaces but that will change soon as Workspace on Demand is preparing to roll out in all Marriott Hotels, including Residence Inns, Towneplace Suites, Springhill Suites and Fairfield Inn & Suites.
Katie Tyson, business lead for Workspace on Demand by Marriott, estimates that 300-400 Marriott hotels will have the Workspace On Demand program by the fall of this year. And it could go beyond the U.S. "We see tremendous opportunity for international as well," she said.
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.
The next time you find yourself at a Hard Rock Hotel or Casino or Cafe, take a moment to look around and enjoy the TVs and digital signs. Seriously.
That's because Hard Rock has partnered with moving image exhibitor Microcinema International to create mesmerizing digital moving image art that is synchronized with the popular hits playing in the hotels (or cafes) from classic rock jams to today's latest
Bieberpop hit or the latest in EDM. It's kind of similar to the Bellagio Fountains in Las Vegas that are synchronzied with classical music, except instead of shooting water canons, you see trippy digital art keeping the beat on the TVs and other digital signs.
“As a forerunner in the curation and distribution of moving image arts, Microcinema is the perfect partner for Hard Rock International,” said John Kirkpatrick, head of music and artist relations at Hard Rock International. “Microcinema’s ability to understand our customer base and aesthetic approach produced impressive results and we look forward to continually evolving the relationship between music and visual arts together.”
Here are a few snapshots taken from a Hard Rock Cafe. Just imagine your favorite Rihanna track as you flip through the gallery, or better yet, the new Daft Punk album. #sogood.
All photos courtesy of Hard Rock Hotels
There's no question we were enamored with all of the shiny objects the W Bangkok had to offer us from the moment we stepped foot into gem-toned guest room. The one thing that managed to take us away from the glitz and glam trance was on the bedside table. No, it wasn't the notepad and pen, it was their high-tech wireless tablet that's like a little handheld butler.
The tablet, tempting us with the message, "Do what you want, I'm yours" couldn't get into our hands fast enough. After a few minutes we were trying out all the different settings from the do-not-disturb sign to the climate control and even the preset lighting option; all right from the comfort of our dragon-emblazoned bed.
Photo Gallery / Hotel Design / Hospitality Design Expo / Hotel Furniture / Hotel Technology / Hotel News / → All Tags
This week we attended the Hospitality Design Expo Conference in Las Vegas at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center and never before have we seen so much hotel furniture in one spot--from chairs and beds to desks and lamps and beyond. It was thrilling for hotel nerds like us.
We'll have more from what we learned at the show next week (keyword: MILLENIALS) but for now, we thought we'd simply show you what we saw. Take a, um, seat and enjoy!
Hotel Openings / Florida Hotels / Beach Hotels / Hotel Technology / Hotel News / Apple TV / → All Tags
All right, so here we go: Apple TV is digging its heels in the hotel industry.
When The Pearl, a 55-room luxury resort, opens in July on Rosemary Beach Florida, it will offer Apple TV in all its rooms. Is it ironic that an establishment on a beautiful stretch of beach is upgrading your television-watching ability? Totally!
We've hashed out our torn opinions about the value of in-room technology and its effects on the art of travel, especially when it drives up the room rate, but we do know that there are many travelers who will be quite pleased by this news (some of us included!). For those who've just come out of hibernation, Apple TV will allow you to stream shows and movies from iTunes and Netflix right to your hotel room.
Hotel WiFi / Hotel Technology / Dallas Hotels / ZaZa Hotels / Hotel Amenities / Free WiFi / → All Tags
Often times, when we plead our case for free hotel WiFi, we hear that setting up a network or upgrading an existing network is an expensive investment for hotels and in order to recoup the costs, they need to charge guests to use the WiFi.
Now, every hotel is different but there are plenty of hotels out there that have been updating their networks to provide faster speeds and more bandwidth to guests and they still aren't charging for WiFi.
For example, The Hotel ZaZa in Dallas which recently added a new fiber data network throughout the hotel. Hotel president, Benji Homsey, explained the reason for the network upgrade saying:
We designed this network with special attention to the increased presence of Apple iPad, iPhone and Google/Android users in conjunction with the typical laptop usage. We want every Hotel ZaZa guest to have the best, from coverage and access points to best of breed fiber data network to the newly installed bedside power docks in every room.
And the charge to access the internet? It's still totally free.
Late last month, HotelChatter ambled by the upcoming Peninsula Paris only to find that much of it was still under wraps. Yet last week, we got the chance to meet stateside with some GMs and execs from Peninsula Hotels and we've got a few new things to chatter about with you.
Let's get the big news out of the way now--the hotel is opening in 2014. So we won't get inside their rooms this year. Triste! BUT when the hotel does open, it's going to have some crazysexycool technology--especially these proprietary bedside tablets which will not only control everything in the room from lights to temperature but will also allow you to stream TV channels from around the world.
As we showed you yesterday in our 2013 Hotel WiFi Report, getting free WiFi during your hotel stay is now a reality. Nearly two-thirds of hotels offer free WiFi, whether it be free outright, free if you join the loyalty program or free if you simply make your reservation directly with the hotel.
But as more and more hotels do away with internet charges, we're starting to wonder: how are the hotel internet connections holding up?
We've long railed against hotels that charge for WiFi and then deliver piss poor signals where you have to stand near the door holding your laptop and balancing on one leg to get a signal (if this happens, immediately ask for a refund, and never book with that brand again.)
Yet if you book your hotel because it has free WiFi only to check-in and find that websites are slow to load and you are having trouble downloading or sending email attachments, then what good is that to you? And if the hotel doesn't offer a tiered WiFi plan where you can pay extra to have more bandwidth and a faster speed then really, that hotel touting its free WiFi is completely useless.
Yet until hotels start to standardize their internet offerings, finding good hotel WiFi speed, not just free hotel WiFi, will always be a bit of a crapshoot. We'll be doing our best to document the best and worst hotel speeds but for now (see below), here's what sort of internet activity one can expect to do on a hotel's WiFi network:
Hotel WiFi / Hotel News / International Hotel WiFi / Hotel Technology / Annual WiFi Report / → All Tags
Ever since HotelChatter's first annual Hotel WiFi Report in 2004, we've insisted that in-room WiFi was as essential as a working shower or air conditioning and that it needed to be offered free, fast, and reliably.
Hotels often gave us the run-around, blaming the costs of installing WiFi networks, the contracts they signed with the hotel owners or network security. But as more and more travelers book their hotel stays based on free WiFi, hotels have begun to drop their nickel and diming ways.
Today, at least two thirds of hotels have realized that offering free WiFi is in their best interests. Progress! Furthermore, many of these hotels have doubled down to put in reliable, fast WiFi networks for their older hotels, even if it means a big capital investment.
However, the battle cry for free WiFi should not die out just yet. One third of hotels out there are still charging for WiFi, including many luxury brands who charge premium internet fees on top of their pricey room rates. But if the nefarious one third don't start offering free WiFi at a basic level (checking email, surfing the web), potential guests will make a reservation elsewhere.
Even when the WiFi is free, there are still some caveats such as requiring guests to join the hotel's loyalty program, offering it free only in the lobby or having it free for just a limited time (anywhere from 15 minutes to two hours) before a charge is incurred. Furthermore, the WiFi fees can vary wildly from property to property within a hotel brand. These gimmicks are just another reason for guests to join together and demand better standardization for hotel WiFi.
Now, if you are a hotel currently offering excellent free WiFi, congratulations! You have made it to the next round of the games. In this round, which has already begun, guests will come to your hotel armed with multiple devices and expect to use those devices as remote controls for everything. Clearly, the end game in the battle for precious guest dollars is free, reliable and capable WiFi. So, let's see who the top contenders are in here in 2013. Shall we?
We called the hotel app the Must-Have Hotel Amenity for 2012 for its ability to bring all sorts of functionality straight to guests’ smart phones. Now, Marriott Hotels is branching out by taking the app idea and applying it to the world of recruitment, using it to paint a picture through real-life employee stories of what career path you might find at Marriott, and what it’s like to work there. And you might want to know, given that the group aims to double its number of rooms in Europe alone from 40,000 to 80,000 by 2015.