You step into your hotel room and the lights turn on automatically, the radio plays your favorite song, and your phone starts to chime with a helpful text message greeting. Sound like science fiction? At these amazingly high-tech hotels, you can live in the lap of luxury – laptop optional.
Las Vegas, Nevada
The Aria is one of the most high-tech hotels in the world. Each room is fitted with a fiber optic connection for 100Mbps Internet access. The RFID card senses when you are near your hotel room and can unlock the door. (Helpfully, the card cannot be demagnetized by your cell phone.) Each room has a media hub for charging your iPod Touch or iPhone, and playing tunes. When you enter the room, the lights turn on and the curtains part automatically. There’s a “good night” button by the bed that turns off the lights, closes the shades, and enables the do-not-disturb sign.
Catalina Island, California
This hotel is within about a dozen steps of the beach, located on Catalina Island near Los Angeles (which requires a short but inexpensive ferry ride). One of the first hotels to offer a free Apple iPad to use during your visit, the hotel has loaded each slim tablet with newspapers, magazines, and apps. Each room provides an iHome radio streaming device that supports the Apple iPod Touch or iPhone for music playback and wake-up alarms.
Palo Alto, California
As you might expect from a hotel located in Silicon Valley, this Four Seasons provides 100Mbps wired access in each room over a steady fiber-optic line. At that speed, you can download a high-def movie in minutes, not hours. There are kiosks in the lobby for printing your boarding pass, and a way to print from your hotel room and get the print-outs delivered to your room. Another unique feature: the hotel uses a 5.6-inch LCD view finder in each room so you can see who is at the door.
This Hilton hotel in Houston has a brand new video surveillance camera network from 3VR that actually assists you during a stay as well as monitoring security. The system helps the hotel determine why you are waiting for long for valet service, for example. Or, you can search for a lost item using a specific color or shape, or even locate a business partner based on a facial recognition scan.
One of the most advanced hotels in the US, theWit uses an IP network throughout the entire hotel that taps into elevators, room sensors, and even the boiler in the basement to help the hotel manage all the technology features. One example: The room senses where you are and can direct heating and cooling for the best temperature level. Each room has an NEC VoIP phone with an LCD display that shows flight information, valet requests, and any wake-up calls. In the hallways and public areas, there’s a faint sound of a babbling brook during the day and crickets at night. Unlike most hotels, the HDTV in the room has a full Web browser.
An LED sign on each room is the first sign of the high-tech features at the downtown hotel. You can press a button to illuminate a do-not-disturb sign, or a “make up room” indicator. Each room has a desktop PC with Microsoft Office available for getting work done, and you can print down to the front lobby. There’s also an iPod Touch docking station in each room. The lounge in the hotel offers a touchscreen computer for looking up maps, sporting events, and local restaurants.
The Sheraton Centre in Toronto is equipped with Cisco Telepresence suites, which allow you to connect over a video and audio feed to other telepresence suites in Sheraton hotels in the US and at many international locales, including India and South Africa.The telepresence system, powered by Tata Communications, uses high-definition televisions, matching room decor, and high-fidelity audio – delivered over a reliable network that is not susceptible to Internet congestion – to make it seem like meeting attendees thousands of miles across the globe are sitting in the same room.
Location: Naples, Florida
Beyond the typical iPod docking stations, flat-screen televisions in the room, Wi-Fi access, and a business center that offers free printing, the Ritz-Carlton in Naples has a high-tech lounge called Vue with 40-inch HDTVs for playing games on one of the Xbox 360, Nintendo Wii, or PlayStation 3 systems with the latest games available. There are also a handful of Mac workstations for browsing the Web and playing games.