Tag: hotel technology

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Why We're All 'Meh' About Marriott Hotels' New Wireless Chargers

October 10, 2014 at 9:39 AM | by | Comment (1)

Last week, Marriott International was fined $600,000 by the FCC for jamming up guests mobile WiFi hotspots at the Gayord Hotel in Nashville (a Marriott entity), thus forcing guests to join the hotel's network and pay the ridiculous WiFi fees. This week, Marriott wants to win back some love by announcing that a whopping 29 Marriott hotels will sport wireless charging stations for guests to charge their devices on.

We heard the news the other day and we were just like, well, this:

The gesture is appreciated, especially since it came about from a survey of real travelers on Marriott's TravelBrilliantly.com platform, meaning that Marriott is really listening to what guests want. And we've all been there when we roll up into a hotel and our phone dies. Or we forget our charger completely.

We can also respect the type of charging stations being used--a KS Portable from Kube Systems which uses the Qi wireless charging technology. Simply place your device, whether it be an iPhone or a Galaxy so long as it's equipped for wireless charging, on one of these black cubes and voila! You're charging. Up to six devices are allowed too.

But let's be real, it's hard for us to get excited about charging our devices in a hotel that is charging us for WiFi.

UPDATE: A publicist for Marriott Hotels wanted to clarify that WiFi is free in the lobbies at Marriott Hotels.

[Photo: Marriott Hotels; GIF: Giphy.com]

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Can Premier Inn Reinvent Itself As The Hub Of Tech-Friendly Hotels?

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  Site Where: 110 St Martin's Lane, London, United Kingdom, WC2N 4BA
October 7, 2014 at 8:26 AM | by | Comments (0)

A tech-friendly hotel that accepts reservations by app? Snooze. A tech-friendly hotel that only accepts reservations by app? Now that’s something we’re not sure anyone’s dared try before. Except there’s probably a reason for that.

Next month, budget UK chain Premier Inn launches a new brand, hub, with a flagship hotel opening in St Martin’s Lane, central London. It’s another millennial-friendly idea – aiming “to catch the imagination of guests who already rely on technology for many other aspects of their everyday lives”. Technology is going to play a central part – or, rather, the new hub by Premier Inn app will.

You’ll check in via the app, of course; then during your stay, you can control the TV channel, the room temperature or the lighting by using the app. You can use it to order food to pick up downstairs, and stream entertainment on the 40in TV. And for when you venture outside, the app contains a “detailed local area guide, hosting a careful edit of the hottest places” (more millennial speak, there), and even “is enhanced by an Augmented Reality experience in the room”. Not sure what that means. Not sure we want to.

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Botlr, The Hotel Robot, May Be Coming to a Hotel Near You

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  Site Where: 10165 North De Anza Boulevard [map], Cupertino, California , United States, 95014
September 23, 2014 at 1:43 PM | by | Comments (0)

Named for its purpose and state of mind, Botlr, the robotic servant is currently at the tail end of a test run at the Cupertino Aloft in California. We told you all about Botlr last month but in case you need a refresher, here's how he/it works:

After receiving a request that needs to be delivered, such as a snack or small amenity, a hotel employee programs the robot by hitting a few buttons. Botlr then uses the hotel Wifi to interact within the hotel and perform tasks, such as calling and directing the elevator to a specific floor. It is programmed with a mapping system that allows it to navigate through the property, the exact same technology used by Google's self-driving cars. Cameras help it avoid obstacles and real people.

When it arrives, it uses a signal to call the room telephone and alert the guest. Sensors allow Botlr to recognize when the door is opened and lift the lid on its storage container. And instead of being silently pressured into giving a tip, guests can enter a review for Botlr on its flat panel display screen. If it's a positive review, the Botlr will do a little dance. Well, that solves our problem of not having enough cash on us.

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The Mother of All Virtual Tours is Now Making Its Way Around the Country

September 18, 2014 at 1:05 PM | by | Comments (2)

About a month ago, our bro Jaunted wondered aloud whether virtual reality could make waves in the travel industry, allowing people to be mentally transported to destinations around the globe without physically leaving their home cities. We've thought about this very same concept in the form of hotels and online virtual tours as a way to experience properties before booking.

This morning, Marriott unveiled the mother of all virtual tours, a piece of technology it calls "The Teleporter," a virtual reality machine that allows people to "tour" some of its hotels in the States. The Teleporter made its public debut at the Marriott in New York. It will remain there for five days, then take off for the rest of its eight-city tour to its properties in Boston, DC, Atlanta, Dallas, San Diego, San Jose, and San Francisco.

Judging from the early reports, Marriott didn't cut any corners when developing the technology. A journalist from Wired had great things to say about the experience, noting that "pumps embedded in the floor, misting nozzles in the walls, heater blowers in the ceiling, fans in the ceiling and floor, a scent dispenser, and a 1000-watt amplifier all deepen the feelings of immersion. When you land on the beach, the pumps in the floor create the feeling of a cushioned landing, and you feel 80-degree warmth, a sea breeze, and ocean mist."

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See Ya Smartphones: Apple Watch Will Let You Unlock Your Hotel Room Door

September 9, 2014 at 3:23 PM | by | Comments (3)

At the start of the year, we were raving about how Starwood Hotels was piloting a program for Starwood Preferred Guests members to use their smartphones to open hotel room doors. Recently, we heard that Marriott International, which already allows its guests to check-in and check-out via smartphone, was working on smartphone room entry as well.

But all that effort just got a little more complicated now that Apple has unveiled the Apple Watch, which will do the exact same thing.

During Apple's keynote today, it was revealed that the watch is partnering with Starwood's app to open room doors. Surely, the technology won't be limited to just Starwood, so we fully expect this to branch out to other hotel brands.

As with the smartphone room entry, two things need to happen in order for the doors to actually open. First, the doors themselves need to equipped with RFID technology the technology that Apple Watch will be using which is NFC/Bluetooth (which was actually in place in a hotel in Sweden in 2010.) Most new hotels are built with RFID technology so that you simply hold your key card up to the door and it unlocks. (Here's what it looks like.)

But a lot of older hotels, even ones from a few years ago, will need to updated. And that costs money.

Second, the hotels need to create their app which is also a big investment. And because not everyone will fork out $350 for the Apple Watch when it hits stores later this spring, hotels will still need to keep up with their smartphone apps. Oh and don't forget the masses of people who still love the old room keys. (For another reason why the technology won't be universal, read the second comment below.)

We're not saying watch and smartphone entry are impossible. We truly believe it's going to happen and will happen quickly but it won't be universal.

Will you open your hotel room door with the AppleWatch? Sound off in comments below!

[Photos: Gizmodo and HotelChatter]

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As We Forge Ahead into the Mobile World, We're Still Madly in Love With Hotel Keys

September 4, 2014 at 11:39 AM | by | Comments (4)

Let he among us who hasn't found an old key in their wallet and smiled cast the first stone.

Now that we're living in a world with electronic wristbands, mobile check-in, and smartphones that act as room keys, an honest question comes to mind: Are we getting closer to the death of the room key as we know it?

Sounds dramatic, but it's not that unrealistic to assume that we'll see our first "keyless" hotel within the next couple years. Environmentally and practically, it might not be the worst of ideas. But let us be the first to say that we would be terribly saddened to check into a hotel and not receive a key.

Sure, some are more elusive than others and tend to disappear easily. And yes, others are blatant advertisements for Domino's. But more often than not, hotel keys are unique mementos of the experiences we have at hotels, many artfully designed and immediately recognizable. A casual hotel goer may not notice one here and there, yet over time, as you see more and more of them, you begin to appreciate the ones that stand out from the crowd.

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You Can Now Check-In to The Ritz-Carlton From Your Phone

August 21, 2014 at 3:49 PM | by | Comments (0)

We've been keeping tabs on all the Marriott International hotel brands that have been rolling out the option of checking-in via their respective apps and now, Ritz-Carlton Hotels can be added to the list.

The luxury brand's newest app includes the options of doing both check-in and check-out, as well as folio reviews, exclusive local content, special offers, food and beverage orders (at select hotels), and most interesting, real-time service requests.

Ritz-Carlton is already pioneering this function at The Ritz-Carlton, Naples, in Florida where guests can make food and beverage requests while at the pool. The order is sent from the guest phone to the bar and is fulfilled right away. That means you don't have to lay in your lounge chair, meekly calling, "Miss? Miss? Sir? Sir?" while servers fly by you, unaware that you'd like another margarita.

The app will also introduce a shareable "Travel Poster" feature on October 1. In short, it will be Ritz-Carlton's own version of Instagram where guests can pretty up their photos with retro-style special filters, titles and stamps. The photo will then be shared across social media or else, saved to the phone's camera roll. Start gathering your witty Ritz-Carlton hashtags now.

Go here to find our more about Ritz-Carlton app.

[Screenshot: Ritz-Carlton Hotels]

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5 In-Room Tech Touches at Park Hyatt New York, Opening Today

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  Site Where: 153 West 57th Street [map], New York, NY, United States, 10019
August 19, 2014 at 3:03 PM | by | Comment (1)

We took you all around the Park Hyatt New York a few weeks ago but in honor of the luxury hotel's official opening day, we're spotlighting 5 tech touches in the guest rooms that we thought you'd like. Rooms for tonight are holding steady at $725 for a Park Deluxe King.

CLEARLY MARKED BEDSIDE BUTTONS. Turning on and off the lights with the press of a button can actually be accomplished here. (Shout-out to the extra outlets!)

NEWEST NESPRESSO MODEL. Even the pods are different!

INTELITY iPAD MINIS. Each guest will have one of these on the nightstand to use during their stay. (The iPads were not installed yet during our visit so, just imagine.)

GADGET HOOK-UP. A power/gadget hook-up strip is installed at each desk.

TOTO TOILETS. Yes, this matters.

Check out all the photos of a Studio Suite below!

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The Verdicts Are In For Peninsula Paris, And They're Mixed

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  Site Where: 19 Avenue Kleber, Paris, France, 75116
August 19, 2014 at 10:02 AM | by | Comments (0)

It’s been open a full two weeks now, and although we haven’t quite found the $1000 to stay at Peninsula Paris (give us another week or 500), others have – and a newspaper has checked it out too. Here’s what they say about the $999,000,000 project.

The 26 TripAdvisor reviews are mixed, leaning towards the negative – though a good tranche are from people who’ve just eaten, rather than stayed at the hotel.

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At Last! A Hotel Robot That Actually Seems Pretty Useful

August 12, 2014 at 10:34 AM | by | Comments (0)

The practice of using robots in hotels is rare but not new.

We came across a space-themed capsule hotel in China entirely staffed by robots. Way back in 2006, a Sheraton Hotel in Japan unleashed some robots to greet guests. The Hotel @ MIT has a robot on display and of course, we cannot forget about the Yotel luggage robot in Times Square. Yet while these were all innovative additions, with the exception of the Yobot, these hotel robots really didn't fulfill a service need for guests. Until now.

The NY Times reports that the Aloft Hotel in Cupertino, across from Apple's headquarters, will start using a Botlr Robot by Silicon Valley start-up Savioke on August 20. (Follow the adventure on social media with the hashtag #MeetBotlr.)

The Botlr's mission is simple. It "will shuttle items from the hotel lobby desk to guest rooms." So let's say you've just got settled into room and have changed into your pajamas when you realize that you've forgotten a toothbrush. Instead of going back downstairs or calling housekeeping and waiting forever to have a toothbrush delivered, the Botlr will bring it up to you. Here's how Botlr does what it does:

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Google Glass Has Infiltrated An 800-Year-Old Hotel In Spain

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  Site Where: Calle Nevera 5, Sardón de Duero, Valladolid, Spain, 47340
August 11, 2014 at 9:55 AM | by | Comments (0)

Google Glass in hotels is spreading. It started in San Francisco. Hotel marketers took it to Istanbul. Then it popped up in London. And now it’s been tracked to Spain, where a hotel and winery in an ancient abbey dating back to the 12th century has let it in.

Just one Glass for the concierge is not enough for the Abadía Retuerta LeDomaine in wine region Duero (hence the winery). Oh no – it’s bought eight pairs, and is touting them about to guests. As well as normal Glass activity, they’ve also loaded them with a video about the hotel and an art tour (shown above). There’s also a stargazing app so you can tell exactly what you’re staring at above the lovely vines (the grape kind, not the video kind).

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Meet the Google Glass Concierges From the Montcalm Marble Arch

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  Site Where: 31 Great Cumberland Place, London, United Kingdom, W1H 7TA
August 8, 2014 at 9:21 AM | by | Comments (0)

Giving Google Glass users free stuff has been done before. Using Google Glass to market your hotel rooms: that too. Doling out Google Glass to your guests? That’s so San Francisco.

But the Montcalm London Marble Arch is the first hotel we’ve heard of to have its staff using Google Glass as part of the concierge service.

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