By Brendon Granger, Technology 4 Hotels
Hotel technology is developing fast and increasingly valued by guests. Mobile check-in, smart lighting, in-room iPads and augmented reality are all being used by forward-thinking hotels to elevate the guest experience.
A study by Gallup also found that guests would be willing to pay more for improved in-room entertainment, indicating a long-term return for those that invest in the latest technology.
But when it comes to delighting the tech-savvy traveller, these five incredible hotels are going above and beyond.
1. ARIA Resort & Casino, Las Vegas
Among its wealth of high-tech experiences, ARIA Resort & Casino offers what is arguably the most advanced in-room hotel tablet in the world.
Available in all 4,004 rooms, tablets can be used to request a range of services, from booking spa treatments and requesting housekeeping to booking tickets to live events. Multimedia messaging with graphics and video can also be sent and received - great for meeting planners wanting to send attendees greetings and itineraries.
When it comes to dining, guests can request meals from the in-room menu, make restaurant reservations, order take out, and schedule breakfast for the next morning.
And while remotely controlling in-room devices might not exactly be new, this particular tablet has some extra clever features, including customised wake-up calls. With a few quick taps, guests can set the curtains and lights to rouse them from their slumber, and program the TV to wake them up with their favourite show.
Future tablet-enabled services will include the ability to book lounge chairs and cabanas, eliminating the stress of an early morning scramble to grab a prime poolside spot.
2. Eccleston Square Hotel, London
Behind the historic facade of a 19th-century Grade II listed building, a supremely 21st century hotel experience awaits. Billing itself as “Europe’s most cutting-edge luxury hideaway”, the Eccleston Square Hotel combines a boutique experience with a feast of advanced in-room tech.
Along with a 46” 3D TV and 3D DVD library, all guestrooms feature an iPad2 that acts as an in-room concierge. Bathroom mirrors conceal a flat-screen TV, and smart-glass shower walls between the bathroom and bedroom provide high-tech discretion when it’s time for a soak.
Sleeping soundly is virtually guaranteed in the £12,000 Swedish Hästens bed — electronically adjustable and with a host of massage settings to soothe the weary traveller.
During their time in London, every guest also gets a smartphone with unlimited mobile internet and free local and international calls to selected countries — helping them to stay connected and explore the city.
3. The Renaissance New York Midtown Hotel
Marketed as New York’s “first digitally enhanced hotel”, this boutique property uses the latest screen technology to wow guests and showcase the local area.
When arriving from two different entrances, a digital wall running the length of a block-long corridor, projects “a visual tapestry of subtle, organic graphics" — brought to life by motion detectors that react when guests stroll past.
At the elevator bank near the 34th Street entrance, digital images of local artists and neighbourhood experiences are timed to change with the opening and closing of the elevators, offering a new experience with every visit.
But the most impressive tech feature is arguably the “Discovery Alcove”. By tapping their foot on hologram projections on the floor, visitors can search for local highlights in the surrounding neighbourhood. This includes the ability to search for attractions based on their distance from the hotel and the time of day they open.
Choices can then be refined by pointing a finger at a huge interactive screen, enabling visitors to explore the on-screen content in more detail.
4. W Singapore – Sentosa Cove, Singapore
The ultimate experience for the tech-savvy traveller awaits at this luxury hotel on Sentosa Island.
Along with keyless room entry, guest rooms are kitted out with a 40” LED HDTV, Bose surround sound system, and iPod docking station. Meanwhile, the ‘Extreme Wow Suite’ does justice to its name with three Bang & Olufsen LED TVs, an HDTV in the bathroom, and a private DJ booth.
The lobby also creates a grand first impression with a huge LED wall and interactive coffee tables. In the neon-drenched WOOBAR, a mirror doubling as a camera can be used to upload photos and check-in on social media.
Outdoors, the huge hotel pool has a 24-speaker underwater sound system that means guests can dunk and dive while listening to music. Poolside, complimentary private cabanas with an iPod and iPad keep the entertainment coming.
5. The Upper House - Hong Kong
The vision of acclaimed Asian architect, Andre Fu. The Upper House offers an oh-so-swish experience with technology at its heart. After checking in via an iPad, guests are escorted to a luxurious room complete with high-speed Wi-Fi, and a 42” LCD TV with on-demand video and surround sound.
All 117 guestrooms and suites also come with an iPod Touch loaded with music, movies, games, local area information, and the ability to request services including in-room dining.
While freshening up in the bathroom’s walk-in rain shower, guests can watch shows on a TV with touchscreen controls. And instead of relying on Do Not Disturb signs, housekeeping can press a button that uses infrared to check if a room is unoccupied.
If guests want to be whisked around Hong Kong in comfort, the hotel has a collection of energy-efficient Lexus RX450H hybrid cars on standby, each equipped with wireless high-speed internet access.
A High-tech Future
Much more than just a gimmick, these five examples demonstrate how hotels can use the latest technology to differentiate themselves from the competition in the most unique ways possible.
In the coming years, advanced in-room tech, virtual concierges and interactive digital screens will become increasingly prevalent. These developments each have the power to revolutionize the guest experience - inspiring, informing, entertaining and adding a new level of comfort to the hotel stay.