Technology is radically altering the hospitality industry. Here are five of the hotels best pioneering the use of sophisticated tech.
Choosing which hotel to stay in used to only be about working out where offered the comfiest bed or tastiest breakfast. Yet the relentless forward march of technology has changed all that – now, an internet connection, digital amenities and original quirks offered by a hotel are becoming increasingly important considerations for the tech-savvy traveller.
HD TVs, Wi-Fi connections and online booking systems are all but universal in hotels these days. Some, though, have become true pioneers in maximising technology’s potential within the hospitality industry, offering holidaymakers the ultimate experience in high-tech comfort with that added ‘wow’ factor. Here are the five hotels from across the world that are leading the way.
1. The Upper House, Hong Kong
Guests at the Upper House (main photo) are transported from the airport using an environmentally friendly, fully Wi-Fi compatible Lexus car. Check-in can then be carried out by any member of staff in the hotel, meaning no long queues upon your arrival. Each room comes complete with a free iPod Touch, which can be used to find information about hotel services and tourist attractions. Rooms are also equipped with motion sensors, which allow housekeepers to work out whether guests are in their rooms at any particular moment. No more rude interruptions!
2. Aria Resort and Casino, Las Vegas, USA
Apart from being almost unfathomably large (covering over four million square feet and housing over 4,000 rooms), the Aria hotel is fitted with some of the most exciting new technology around. It’s admirably committed to being environmentally sustainable, offering rooms which come complete with motion sensor technology capable of turning off air conditioners and lights when guests are away and which can also control curtains and windows. There are no keys or keycards required to unlock your door – instead, guests are given a card that automatically detects your presence upon your approach.
3. Clarion Hotel, Stockholm, Sweden
The Clarion recently successfully trialled a scheme which utilised Near Field Communication (NFC) technology to replace hotel room keys with mobile phones. The concept behind the move is simple but ingenious: guests are sent a digital room key directly to their phone, which allows them to skip check-in queues and enter their room simply by holding their phone close to the door lock. Rooms lock automatically upon departure, and check out is completed simply by holding the phone next to a panel at reception. As well as reducing stress and waiting times, the technology also increases security, as access credentials can be easily reset if a phone is lost.
4. Blow Up Hall, Poznan, Poland
The Blow Up Hall is a work of art – literally. It contains a pioneering video installation designed by renowned artist Rafeal Lozano-Hemmer, which collects 2,400 images of each client during their stay and converts them into a curious distorted image on a large high-resolution screen. There are plenty of other nifty technological features on offer, too. There’s no reception area here – instead guests are provided with individual iPhones which lead them to their room and can then be used to make calls and browse tourist information.
5. The Peninsula Hotel, Tokyo, Japan
Tokyo is one of the world’s central hubs for pioneering tech, making it no surprise the city is home to some of the leading innovators in hospitality. The Peninsula Hotel, though, stands out from the rest. The list of high-tech features on offer here is staggering: there are free Skype compatible phones, touch screen interactive menus, in-room radio offering over 3,000 stations, and a ‘Do Not Disturb’ light system controlled by buttons next to the bed. On offer too is a ‘spa’ function in the bathroom, which initiates mood lighting and starts up a calming music playlist.
What are the best uses of technology you’ve come across in hotels you’ve stayed at in the past? What ways do would you like to see tech used to revolutionise the hotels experience in the future? Tweet us at @O2 and let us know what you think.