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High tech and high class. How luxury hotels are embracing technology


Turn up the music, turn down the lights, and start a movie – with the swipe of a finger. Here’s how high-tech room controls are making your next luxury hotel room classier than ever.

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Technology is an important part of the home, and what better way for hoteliers to make guests feel at home than to provide them with state-of-the-art technological amenities? We are talking about a deeper level of connectivity than a simple iPod dock, or a reliable Internet connection in your hotel room. The trend in luxury hotels across the globe is a simple touchscreenwith an easy-to-use graphic user interface that can control all your room’s amenities, such as lighting, air conditioning, TV, movies,and music. These systems also have the capability to handle communication with the front desk, housekeeping, concierge, and checkout. The modern hotel also offers staff facility-wide monitoring and management capabilities.

In fact, most of the major control companies are already entrenched in the hotel market, from Control4 to Crestron and Apple. Needless to say, hoteliers are jumping on the control bandwagon, which is the“wow” amenity of the moment that puts luxury hotels a cut above.

Inspiration from across the street

At the legendary Plaza in New York City, Manhattan’s iconic NYC Apple Store sits just across the street. When the Apple iPad came out, the hotel’s general manager, Shane Krige, walked across the street and purchased a few to put in the hotel lobby for guests to play with. Once the Plaza team saw everything the device was capable of, they put an iPad in every room.

Guests are greeted with a personalized welcome screen and a video from Krige explaining ICE, the Interactive Customer Experience.Once acquainted,you can control the room temperature or set lights at various levels from 100 percent to completely off. You can send messages to the front desk, request toothpaste from housekeeping, or ask the concierge for a restaurant reservation. Guests can arrange transportation or learn about the hotel, which just underwent a $450 million renovation. You can even check airlines and print boarding passes. A mobile ICE app in the works will be downloadable from the Plaza’s website, allowing you to do all these things before you even arrive.

The room that knows you’re there

Across the sea in Sydney Harbour, Australia, the Star Hotel & Casino offers complete guest control in its 174 luxury suites.Guests get on-screen control of the television, IBAHN Video-on-Demand system, lighting and temperature, a Philips Dynalite lighting control system, a wireless thermostat, Samsung LED 3D TV, Bose Cinemate music system, and more. A Control4 system acts as the backbone, allowing simple control with a straightforward interface.

The suites all feature a button labeled “Leaving Room” by the entry door that automatically places the suite in an energy-saving mode: With a single touch, it closes blinds, turns off lights and dials back air conditioners for energy savings. Should you forget to press this on your way out, after 30 minutes the system will sense there is no one and trigger the button automatically. Upon return your room will greet you by opening curtains, turning on the lights and displaying a welcome message. “Door Ajar” and “Privacy” notification pops up on the TV so you know you are safe and won’t be bothered by the hotel staff.

The greener side of high-tech

At the Montage Deer Valley mountain resort in Park City, Utah, 154 deluxe guest rooms and 66 suites are equipped with a similar Control4 Hospitality Solution that lets guests control lighting,temperature, the fireplace, entertainment, privacy settings and energy-saving features. Hotel guests can enjoy theses effortless tech amenities while the hotel industry – known for its oversize environmental footprint — can reduce negative impact.

Crestron is also doing interesting things in the hotel industry, and has installed control systems in some of the world’s top hotel chains, including Marriott, Hilton, Hyatt, InterContinental Hotels Group, Four Seasons, and Starwood Properties.

“Hotels are using more technology to enable a higher level of service,” says Crestron’s director of hospitality, Michael Stegmann. “The modern hotel standard presents new challenges to manage and integrate it all.”

Crestron’s Hospitality solution is up to the challenge, monitoring and managing centralized AV sources and lighting controls for all areas of a hotel from a PC, Mac, iPhone, iPad, Android device and a local Crestron touch screen. As with Control4 systems, Crestron’s offers a number of ways to cut back on electricity consumption, from dimming systems to occupancy sensors and daylight harvesting. In-room amenities, including security, AV, and HVAC are standard. The environmentally minded Gateway Canyon Resort in Gateway, Colorado, for example, uses a Crestron system to control hotel-wide functions, including the Kiva Lodge, a 38-room hotel with fitness center, spa, café and pool area. The Crestron CP2E system controls AV and background music distribution throughout the lodge. Wall-mount touch screens and keypadsadorn the luxury space for walk-up, one-touch control.

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Posted by chantal Mon, 05 Mar 2012 17:10:00 GMT

Inside Trump Towers Automated Condos

Each condo inside Trump Towers in Sunny Isles Beach, Fla. features a 6-inch Crestron touchpanel for one-touch access to a variety of high-style services.

By Lisa Montgomery, October 26, 2011

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You’d expect nothing less from Donald Trump. His world-renown Trump Towers are the epitome of luxury, featuring high-end construction, design and materials.

One the newest Trump Towers, in Sunny Isles Beach, Fla., takes luxury living by providing its residents one-touch access to a variety of high-style services.

Installed into each of the Tower’s 271 units is a 6-inch Crestron touchpanel from which an owner can press one button to request that a lounge chair be placed by the pool, his car be retrieved from valet parking or that someone from maintenance check out a leaky faucet in the kitchen.

As explained by Al Reinhard, owner of Miami-based Advanced Home Theater, the company hired to design and install the Crestron gear for the Towers, the touchpanel functions as a portal to the building’s eServices platform, which is designed exclusively for residents of multi-dwelling units like the Towers. Navigating the control panel couldn’t be easier. Six buttons are presented on the home page: valet, beach, maintenance, weather forecast, concierge and bulletin. Press valet, and other options could be presented.

“For example, if a resident owns a BMW and a Ferrari, we could design the touchpanel to display those options after the person presses the valet button. If the BMW button is pressed, the valet knows exactly which car to retrieve. He can then send a message back to the owner’s touchpanel informing him that his car is ready and waiting,” Reinhard explains.

The five-star treatment continues with features that allow the building management to send messages to every touchpanel to notify residents of special events and building maintenance, like an elevator that’s under repair. Similarly, residents can issue a building-wide invitation to a beach side barbeque. Should a resident receive a package or have a cab waiting at the lobby, a message from reception can be sent directly to that owner’s Crestron touchpanel.

Today, the touchpanel is used to streamline communications throughout the building, but as with all Crestron systems, it can be expanded to include the control devices such as lights, thermostats and A/V gear in each resident’s condo, says Reinhard.

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Posted by chantal Fri, 11 Nov 2011 18:34:00 GMT

USA TODAY -Control4 CEO Will West - Citiy Center Aria Smart Hotel Rooms

By Jefferson Graham, USA TODAY LAS VEGAS — Will West wants to neaten up your coffee table.

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Specifically, he’s looking at the handful of remotes resting there. He has a master remote that can turn on the TV and Blu-ray player — and dim the lights, lock the door, close the blinds and adjust the heat. Sound far-fetched, like something out of The Jetsons? Guess what? The year 2062 has arrived.

West says his firm, Control4, had $70 million in revenue in 2009, selling home automation systems and products at some 1,600 dealers around the USA. In December, Las Vegas’ newest hotel, the 4,000-room Aria Resort & Casino Las Vegas, welcomed guests with a Control4 system. It turns on the TV automatically when you enter the room and greets you by name on the television.

“We grew by double digits last year, in the absolute worst of times,” says West, co-founder and CEO. “This suggests that automation of the digital home is happening. It’s real.”

West, 47, is no newcomer to the automation field. He’s been working at it since the early 1990s, when he left Procter & Gamble to open a small retail business in Salt Lake City with a friend, focused on installing fancy lighting and heating controls for well-heeled customers. That store, Audition, morphed into PHAST (Practical Home Automation Systems Technology) to bring automation to homes on a grander scale, but West and partner Eric Smith lost control of the company to their outside investors.

“I learned an important math lesson — that 51 (percent) is a lot different than 49, when it comes to company management,” he says.

He shifted his sights to the hospitality industry, with a pitch to Marriott about what automation could do for hotel rooms. Marriott wasn’t interested, but it did sign up West to bring broadband to hotel rooms. He helped form a company focused on that idea in the mid-’90s. By 2003, eager to return to his first love, he launched Control4 with Smith, his partner from PHAST.

West is no engineering genius. He has rudimentary programming experience. The son of an insurance executive, he grew up planning for a business career.

He graduated from the University of Utah with a degree in finance, got married, then studied at the Wharton School for his MBA.

At age 27, he joined P&G. But after two years, he decided to try the automation venture.

“I really wanted to try my hand at running things. At P&G, my day started at 5:30 … and I never got home before it was dark outside. I figured that if I was going to work this hard, I should do it for something where I at least have a little bit of a stake.”

Wowing hotel guests

At the Aria, once a guest opens a hotel room door, the lights and TV automatically turn on and drapes open. The technology lets visitors fine-tune a wake-up alarm for 6:30 a.m., with the TV to turn on at 6:35 tuned to CNN or another channel, drapes to open at 6:36 and lights on at 6:45.

Everything is set with a touch panel by the bed, resembling a digital photo frame. Guests can order room service, dim the lights, even check an airline schedule — all via a combination of infrared, wireless and Internet technologies managed by a Control4 set-top box.

In designing the Aria, resort President Bill McBeath says, the goal was to wow customers and top what previous Vegas hotels had done — a tall order, considering the nightly water show at the Bellagio and the faux Eiffel Tower at the Paris Las Vegas.

“When our guests see their name on the TV and hear the music start to play when they open the door, that’s a pretty important arrival statement,” he says.

Guests were initially wary about using the automation tools, until the Aria placed cards with simple instructions in the rooms. “Even some of our older, less-technology-savvy customers get it. It’s easier than running a computer at home.”

The new technology on display at the Aria is available now for consumers at home, in stores such as Best Buy’s Magnolia Home Theater centers and Chicago’s Abt. West’s challenge is marketing the possibilities.

“Education is an expensive and timely proposition,” says Bill Ablondi, an analyst at Parks Associates, who covers energy and the building industry. “It’s going to take some time.”

Control4’s system begins with the remote and a set-top box that talks to the remote. From there, you can add features. Magnolia sells and installs Control4 products at 53 stores and will expand the line to all 380 stores by year’s end, says Magnolia Chief Operating Officer Steve Delp.

“So far, it’s been more wealthy consumers than mainstream, but it’s getting more mainstream every day,” he says. Costs for the systems range from $899 to $1 million, Delp says.

New for 2010 are products from Sony, Pioneer, LG and Panasonic that have Control4 technology built into TVs, Blu-ray players and phones.

The automated home

West doesn’t just talk the automation talk. He uses the technology to put his youngest children to sleep…

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Posted by ryan Wed, 10 Mar 2010 19:21:00 GMT