Just a couple years ago, a T1 line running in a hotel ballroom was a newsworthy event. Soon it will be nearly as anticipated as the little shampoos and soaps in the guest room bath and it is already practically a prerequisite of any property that purports to host serious business meetings. This revolution has not been lost on the hotel chains, which are speedily installing connectivity solutions in guest rooms and meeting rooms, especially for the properties in major markets, where the demand is highest and return on investment will be quickest. Here's a roundup of the high-tech plans of hotel companies, plus details on some especially wired properties.
Adam's Mark Hotels & Resorts * www.adamsmark.com
* The 22 hotels in the Adam's Mark portfolio offer guest room data ports.
* Wired Showcase: The Adam's Mark Dallas offers network connectivity, fiber optics, DSL, and ISDN in all 230,000 square feet of its meeting space, as well as data ports and two-line phones in all 1,842 guest rooms.
Delta Hotels & Resorts * www.deltahotels.com
* Delta is evaluating installing high-speed Internet access in guest rooms at its 31 hotels in Canada and one in Orlando. All new properties will have high-speed access.
* Wired Showcase: Each of the 226 suites at the Delta Vancouver Suites has high-speed Internet access for $9.95 a day, dual-line speakerphones, a data port, and a flexible workstation. The lobby has an Internet station, and the meeting spaces feature high-speed Internet access. The new 16,000-square-foot Morris J. Wosk Center for Dialogue, which offers a simultaneous interpretation setup for seven languages, is directly connected to the hotel.
Fairmont Hotels & Resorts * www.fairmont.com
* Some meeting rooms feature Ethernet connections on a T3 backbone (200 times faster than a dial-up modem); this will become standard in all locations. High-speed Internet connections are being installed in guest rooms.
* Wired Showcase: The 392 guest rooms at The Fairmont Vancouver Airport offer two dual-line phones (including one cordless phone), data ports, laptop safes, and complimentary high-speed Internet access. High-speed access, teleconferencing, and videoconferencing are available.
Hilton Hotels Corp. * www.hilton.com
* Hilton offers T1 lines in all meeting rooms. In the 220 hotels that it owns, Hilton is installing interactive television and high-speed Internet access via television through a partnership with LodgeNet, a broadband interactive services provider. Hilton also is installing high-speed Internet access in rooms for guests who prefer to use their laptops rather than the TV. This service, provided by CAIS, will cost $9.95 a day. Hilton's technology team is available to consult with groups that have complex technology needs.
* Wired Showcase: The 1,401 rooms at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York feature dual-line speakerphones, data ports, fax machines, and high-speed Internet access provided by CAIS for $9.95 a day. The hotel's new business center offers high-speed Internet access at PC and Mac workstations. The Waldorf is part of Hil-ton's TeleSuite Network, a system that allows guests at hotels across the country (Atlanta, Beverly Hills, Chi-cago, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C.) to join in videoconferences where participants appear life-size and across the "same" table from each other.
Hyatt Hotels & Resorts * www.hyatt.com
* Hyatt will have T1 lines on Category 5 service in all meeting hotels by the end of the first quarter of 2001. And the chain is in the process of getting daily-fee, high-speed Internet access in all guest rooms.
* Wired Showcase: In its 50,000 square feet of meeting space, the 793-room Hyatt Regency San Francisco Airport has ISDN lines for videoconferencing, broadband Internet access, the ability to handle 300 computer setups for an individual meeting, the ability to network all the hotel's meeting space, the ability to connect off-site computers to any of the meeting rooms, and a group of certified network specialists on staff. Guest rooms have dual-line phones; 75 "business plan" rooms are equipped with printer/copier/fax machines.
Inter-Continental Hotels * www.interconti.com
* All Inter-Continental hotels in North America were expected to have T1 lines by the end of 2000, while one quarter of the guest rooms will be equipped with PCs. Inter-Con's CyberAssist program offers business guests 24-hour tech support--everything from setting up a guest's computer to answering questions about Internet applications, software, and hardware. Each hotel's business center has Internet access, modems, and adapters.
* Wired Showcase: The 380-room Mark Hopkins Inter-Continental San Francisco offers three options for in-room Internet access: a standard data port; daily-fee, high-speed connection via Ethernet; or access via an interface on the TV screen. All rooms have dual-line phones and voice mail you can personalize. Business rooms have printer/copier/ fax machines.
Kimpton Group * www.kimptongroup.com
* By the end of 2000, Kimpton's 23 hotels was expected to have two-line phones with data ports in guest rooms; by June 2001, four- and five-star properties will have in-room, high-speed Internet access.
* Wired Showcase: The 189 rooms at Kimpton's Hotel Monaco in Denver offer high-speed Internet access by IPORT for $9.95 a day, along with dual-line phones and fax machines.
Loews Hotels * www.loewshotels.com
* Loews' 15 North American hotels offer in-room fax machines and are adding high-speed Internet access by CAIS in guest and meeting rooms.
* Wired Showcase: The 800-room Loews Miami Beach Hotel has ISDN and T1 lines, plus videoconferencing capabilities in all its 85,000 square feet of meeting space. All guest rooms have data ports, and select rooms will soon have Web TV installed.
Marriott Hotels & Resorts Renaissance Hotels & Resorts * www.marriott.com
* Marriott International planned to install high-speed Internet access by STSN ($9.95 a day) in all guest rooms, meeting rooms, and business centers of 500 properties by the end of 2000. In addition to the Internet, guests can access a Web site that provides information on the hotel, local restaurants, special online conference services, transportation, and shopping. Marriott's meeting hotels also have tech-support teams. Videoconferencing is available at some 300 Marriott and Renaissance hotels and Marriott Conference Centers.
* Wired Showcase: The 1,500 rooms at the Marriott Wardman Park in Washington, D.C., offer three ways to access the Internet: standard data port; daily-fee, high-speed Internet access by STSN; and Web TV. Rooms also offer dual-line phones and voice mail you can personalize. The hotel has 173,000 square feet of meeting space.
Omni Hotels * www.omnihotels.com
* Guest rooms have dual-line speakerphones. By early 2001, guest and meeting rooms in Omni's 30 owned and managed hotels in North America will have daily-fee, high-speed Internet access by VirtuaLINC and CAIS.
* Wired Showcase: The 390-room Omni Interlocken in Broomfield, Colo., has high-speed Internet access in all guest rooms, meeting rooms, and common areas. A fiber-optic infrastructure that can be accessed throughout the hotel offers wireless Internet access and videoconferencing capabilities. The property has 34,000 square feet of meeting space.
Radisson Hotels & Resorts * www.radisson.com
* Radisson offers broadband Internet access by VirtuaLINC for $9.95 a day in guest rooms, meeting rooms, and common areas at 30 of its hotels. Several videoconferencing options are available at 50 Radisson properties.
* Wired Showcase: The 210 rooms at the Radisson San Francisco Airport each have dual-line phones and a PC with high-speed Internet access.
Ritz-Carlton Hotels * www.ritzcarlton.com
* Ritz-Carlton offers STSN high-speed Internet access for $9.95 a day in 25 of its hotels. STSN also provides a hotel home page with local information on restaurants, transportation, and attractions. The service networks guest rooms to the business center, so documents can be sent there for printing. In-house meetings can post links on the hotel home page. STSN connections are also in meeting rooms.
* Wired Showcase: The 300-room Ritz-Carlton, Washington, D.C., has 20,000 square feet of meeting space with multiple fiber-optic cables enabling immediate live broadcasts. Computer networking is possible within and between all meeting rooms. Guest rooms offer daily-fee, high-speed Internet access.
Shangri-La Hotels & Resorts * www.shangri-la.com
* Shangri-La's 37 hotels in 10 Asian countries are adding high-speed Internet connections to guest rooms by mid-2001. ViewInternet is providing the service, allowing access via laptop and the television screen.
* Wired Showcase: The 850-room Shangri-La Bangkok's ballroom and 23 meeting rooms total 55,812 square feet of wired meeting space.
Sonesta Hotels & Resorts * www.sonesta.com
* Sonesta is installing T1 lines in meeting rooms at all its U.S. hotels. Each hotel has a tech consultant for meeting groups.
* Wired Showcase: The 400-room Royal Sonesta Hotel in Cambridge, Mass., has T1-speed wireless Internet access built in on the first two floors, where the hotel's 22,000 square feet of meeting space is situated. Guests with laptops can connect to the Internet in the lobby, by the pool, and, of course, in meeting rooms. Outside the event space, the wireless connection is gratis. Guest rooms offer high-speed Internet access for $10 a day.
Starwood Hotels & Resorts * www.starwood.com
* All Starwood guest rooms have dual-line phones; 20 percent of rooms are equipped with a printer/copier/fax machine. In meeting rooms, T1 lines can be provided.
* Wired Showcase: The 297 rooms at the St. Regis Los Angeles, newly created from the Westin Century Plaza, offer three dual-line phones (one of which is cordless); DVD player; CD player; daily-fee, high-speed Internet access; a laptop safe that provides battery charging; and a printer/copier/fax machine.
Westin Hotels & Resorts * www.westin.com
* Westin is installing Category 5 wiring and daily-fee, high-speed Internet access at its hotels around the world. Guest Office rooms have a printer/copier/ fax machine and dual-line speakerphones with data ports.
* Wired Showcase: The 369 rooms at the Westin Westminster, in Colorado's high-tech corridor, offer high-speed connectivity via Ethernet ports, along with two dual-line phones with data ports. The hotel also offers WaveLAN, a Lucent Technologies product that grants wireless Internet access throughout the property.
Wyndham Hotels & Resorts * www.wyndham.com
* Wyndham is installing daily-fee, high-speed Internet access in all guest rooms and wireless Internet access in public areas and meeting rooms. Also coming soon to guest rooms are cordless phones.
* Wired Showcase:: The 1,620-room Wyndham Anatole Hotel in Dallas has 300,000 square feet of meeting space equipped with a fiber-optic backbone. Meetings have Internet access over T1 lines, and the hotel will soon provide wireless Internet access in all public areas. The hotel also has videoconferencing and webconferencing capabilities available for meetings.
Barbara Dunlavey's attendees want high-speed access, but that's not enough. "My members are looking for wireless support," says Dunlavey, CMP, vice president of conferences for the Information Technology Association of America, of Arlington, Va. Of the 500 or so IT managers who come to her annual meeting, Dunlavey estimates that at least a third of them would like to see wireless Internet access, and just about everyone wants high-speed lines. "My members have got to have access to their e-mail--not just a data port, but a fast line. I definitely look for the hotels with the high-tech bells and whistles, where I don't have to go and call the local phone company to get the fast lines I need."
From John Wolf's perspective, it's not enough to have Internet access in guest rooms and meeting space. He needs it on the golf course, too. Wolf, director, globalfor EMC Corp., Hopkinton, Mass., says his company's annual Golf Skills Challenge event had a wired element for the first time last year. The hospitality tent had a mini-cybercafe with four or five laptops, so company executives and their guests could stay connected.
"All our people constantly need access to their e-mail. And the higher the executives, the closer they need to get to their e-mail," Wolf says. "We certainly notice properties with state-of-the-art technology. If it's not there, we hear about it."
"In sleeping rooms, I'm noticing less concern with high-speed lines than with dual phone lines," says Karen Tucker, president of Meeting Services Connection, a Newton, Mass.-based independent planning company, with a client list heavy with high-tech concerns. "High speed is an enhancement, but not everyone is prepared for that." In the meeting rooms, however, high speed is required--and lots of it. "Often, hotels will say they have high-speed Internet access, but you've got to find out more," Tucker says. "Don't just ask if they have high-speed lines. Ask how many lines. One fiber-optics company client needed 17--for breakouts, the general session, and the office. [Event planners] don't need to be able to work in an IT department, but do need to know enough to ask the right questions."