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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.
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.
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!
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..
Sweet Suites / Staybridge Suites / IHG Hotels / London Hotels / Themed Suites / Hotel Video Games / Hotel Tech / Tech Hotels / → All Tags
For all you avid gamers out there, London's just unleashed a tricked-out hotel suite that we think will be to your liking. It's called the GAME Pad and it's located inside a Staybridge Suites in Stratford, overlooking Olympic Park.
The Pad is the result of a partnership between Staybridge Suites and GAME, a UK-based video games retailer, who's clearly going above and beyond their call of duty by turning every gamer's fantasy into a reality. Inside, the room contains not just a Nintendo Wii U, not just a Playstation 3, and not just an Xbox 360—but all three, each with their own separate 40" plasma TVs (plus another two screens just for watching regular TV). Add to that a full kitchen with microwavable snacks, bean bag chairs, lava lamps, and, of course, a bed, and you've basically eliminated any reason to ever have to go outside again.
Hotel Tech / Tech Hotels / Chicago Hotels / Hotel Technology / Apple Hotels / Hard Rock Hotels / Free WiFi / → All Tags
Dubbed “Silicon City” for its booming tech scene (think Motorola, Groupon, Orbitz), Chicago is also blowing out its share of high-tech hotel interiors. These three Chicago hotels are going above and beyond to deliver the latest in-room tech toys.
In true rocker fashion, Hard Rock Hotel Chicago does show a little too much "morning after" with spots of chipped paint and ever-so-slightly worn interior, but the bright spots are pretty substantial—and we’re not just referring to the real-life rockers who show up here every time a music fest comes to town (recently Cee Lo Green and Pete Wentz ambled through). For starters, the floating Ghost Wall concierge screen in the lobby lets you check flight times, take photos, and browse Hard Rock’s selection of 20 available Fender guitars. But what we really love is the solo dining option at the hotel’s brand-new, totally playful Chuck’s Manufacturing restaurant (pictured above). It’s a techie's dream workstation complete with an outlet (and charger loans, should you forget yours), work light, bold Ikea-like acrylics, and funky bookshelves—all basically begging you to sip wine, work, and be cool.
Skype Hotels / Tech Hotels / Hotel Tech / Beverly Hills Hotels / Four Seasons Hotels / Hotel Check-In / → All Tags
What's your least favorite part about staying in a hotel? If you're anything like us, check-in is a particularly tedious process—that awful time when we're worn out and cranky, and don't feel like answering to anyone or making small talk: we just want to get straight to our room and close the door.
Luckily, some hotels are willing to speed guests right along and close the gap between first arrival and bed-flopping. Here's a new program being launched by the Four Seasons Beverly Wilshire that ought to satisfy the digital nomad contingent who've got little time to spare, but plenty of devices at the ready: guests that are en route to the hotel, can now Skype the Front Desk and check in with them face to face.
(Sure, you still have to actually interact with a person, but hey, you're just sitting in a car, so what else have you got to do?
Tech Hotels / Hotel Events / Marriott Hotels / Hotel Partnerships / Hotel News / Wired / Hotel Tech / Digital Nomads / Boston Hotels / Hotel Lobbies / → All Tags
Marriott must be feeling old. In an effort to reach those "younger travelers connected to their digital worlds," the hotel chain has launched a new partnership with Wired magazine.
As part of the initiative, the two brands will be curating various events at Marriott hotels around the country—titled the Wired + Marriott "Culturazzi" Series—including comedy nights, meet-ups, and other "provocative and stimulating" experiences basically designed to get people tweeting and Facebooking about Marriott.
The kick-off event, "Marriott Meetup: Five Startups To Watch," will take place in the lobby of the Boston Marriott Long Wharf tomorrow evening, allowing guests to drink wine, indulge in all the tech-speak they want, and simultaneously admire the results of the hotel's recent $30 million renovation, which it unveiled at the beginning of the year.
Between exorbitant, unpredictable WiFi fees and the occasional circulating hotel internet virus, you'd think we have enough to worry about when it comes to signing onto the web from our hotel room. But you'd be wrong.
A friend of ours recently spent an evening at a Quaity Inn in California, and when he opened his laptop to join the network, found something that (understandably) made him a little nervous. There, listed above the Quality Inn's two available networks, was another one, which, in all caps, read: "FBI SURVEILLANCE VAN 28".
We like to test out all (and we do mean all) the features of our room when we check in. Buttons, panels, gadgets: we have a hard time keeping our hands off that stuff. But whether those features are actually useful? That's a separate question.
Like when you've got a master remote (pictured) that supposedly controls different parts of the room—lights, curtains, maid service. Sounds good in theory, except each time you press the buttons, something different happens. No, we didn't want the curtains to close! Wait—why are all the lights turning off?
We get that hotels want to be all technologically up-to-date, but this might be a case of 'don't fix what isn't broken.'