Take a look at the latest technological enhancements to be found in the guest rooms and meeting space of the luxury chains:
Four Seasons & Regent Hotels and Resorts Thirty-eight throughout Europe, the Middle East, North America, and Asia. Nine are Regent Hotels, located mainly in Asia
Perspective: "Our guests and common sense drive a lot of the amenities that we put in rooms," says Tim McLaughlin, director of AV and MIS, Four Seasons Resort Club, Dallas.
In-room Technology: Minimum two telephone lines per room, four per suite; data port; voice mail; speaker phones (except for Asia/Pacific properties); computer and fax upon request
Meeting Room Technology: Customized touch-panel room controls for lecterns (at some properties), large-screen AV display panels In the Future: Possible Internet access; investigating personal communication systems, wireless phone technology
The Luxury Collection Forty-eight in 20 countries worldwide, including four opening this year: Beijing, China; Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; and Santiago, Chile
Perspective: The Luxury Collection, launched in January 1995, is made up of ITT Sheraton's top properties in worldwide business cities and resorts.
In-room Technology: "Smart-Rooms" have dual-line speaker phone with integral data port and combination fax/ copier/printer.Cost is ten percent over basic rate.
Kempinski Hotels Twenty-five in Europe, Asia, and the Americas, plus nine Dusit Hotels & Resorts, primarily in Asia
Perspective: In 1907, Berlin's original Adlon Hotel set new world standards with running water, 110-volt electric lightbulbs, and gas heating. Opening in June, the new Hotel Adlon will have hotel rooms acting as "virtual offices," according to Paul Gottwald, vice president of sales and marketing, the Americas. Other high-tech properties are in Dresden, Germany; Istanbul, Turkey; Moscow; and Beijing.
In-room Technology: ISDN phone lines, voice mail, personal portable phones, PC docking capabilities, silent fax machines
Meeting Room Technology: Video projection, simultaneous translation, LCD panels, multimedia capabilities, all equipment with remote control and EDP lines
Nikko Hotels International Forty, mainly in the Asia/Pacific region, and London, Paris, North America
Perspective: Nikko's telecommunications connectivity is due to the relative youth of its properties (average age is two years in North America), says Eugene
Eva, director of MIS technology planning, Nikko Hotels, USA. One of its most advanced is the Hotel Nikko at Beverly Hills.
In-room Technology: Beverly Hills--Interactive remote telephone console controls the television, VCR, stereo, heat, lights, air-conditioning, as well as speed-dial access for local transportation, attractions, and in-house services. Fax machines, voice mail, speaker phones, Guestserve multiple language information system
Meeting Room Technology: Within six months, ISDN lines for teleconferencing from all meeting rooms; plans for Internet access within two years
The Peninsula Group Eight properties in Hong Kong, China, the Philippines, Thailand (opening in 1998), and the U.S. (Beverly Hills, New York, and Carmel, CA) Perspective: Company policy is to offer "unobtrusive, but user-friendly high-tech features," says spokesperson Kate Kelly. Peninsula's research and development division has patented systems such as complete bedside controls and telephones that automatically lower television volume when the phone rings.
In-room Technology: The Peninsula Hong Kong and The Kowloon Hotel Hong Kong are the chain's most technologically advanced, with Bangkok to follow. Kowloon--each guest gets a dedicated e-mail address and private fax number through the in-room telecenter. Telecenters offer word-processing, spreadsheets, transmission and receipt of faxes, voice mail, and airline and tourist information. Hong Kong--rooms have silent fax units. Each desk is wired for computer/modem usage for word processing and international communications.
Meeting Room Technology: Satellite communications capabilities began in April in Hong Kong, Beijing, and Manila, the Philippines.
Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company Thirty-three in North America, Australia, Asia/Pacific, and Spain. In May, newest opened in Osaka, Japan.
Perspective: "We look at our customers' total requirements and then [see] where technology fits into that picture," says Jim Schultenover, vice president, sales and marketing.
In-room Technology: Two-line telephones, data ports, fax machines available
In the Future: Internet access through television; possible fax/printer combination for laptops; more intimate videoconferencing in stand-alone rooms, for up to five people
Shangri-La Hotels & Resorts Thirty-four in 11 Asia/Pacific countries, plus one in Vancouver, British Columbia
Perspective: "Approximately 80 percent of our guests are here on business, so we want to make sure that everything they desire is provided for them," says Bernard Haechler, general manager, Kowloon Shangri-La, Hong Kong.
In-room Technology: Two-line speakerphones, data ports, PCs and other office equipment available, fax machines in suites and Horizon Club floors
Meeting Room Technology: Teleconferencing with broadcast-quality television reception in nine properties. Most properties--Language translation booths, Internet and e-mail accessibility, and teleconferencing*
Say What? Common terms and their meanings: * EDP lines--enable computer network connections.
* ISDN--Integrated Services Digital Network--Lets you turn POTS (plain old telephone service) into three digital phone channels, one of which carries packet-switched information (short, encoded signals--for example, Caller ID information). Requires additional hardware for your phone and computer. Advantage: Faster transmission of practically anything without having to install new wiring
* LCD--Liquid-crystal display--The same screen display technology used in laptop computers, eliminating the bulky cathode ray tube
* TeleSuite--Virtual personal contact teleconferencing room in which participants appear life-size across a table from one another
* T1 line--Equivalent to 24 dedicated telephone lines over a standard two-pair telephone line or 12 ISDN lines. Needs a special 24-line connection box at each end. Not economically practical for most applications unless it is in use all day
How Wired Are We? A sampling of technology offerings at some of this country's finest hotels: Hotel Bel-Air (Los Angeles) In-room technology: Two-line speaker phones, data ports, voice mail, fax machines with dedicated lines; Meeting room technology: State-of-the-art AV equipment and teleconferencing capabilities
Mansion On Turtle Creek (Dallas)In-room technology: Multiple telephone lines, data ports, fax machines with private lines, printers and other hardware available
Palmer House Hilton (Chicago)In-room technology: Speaker phones with two lines, data ports, voice mail, faxes in Tower rooms, Infotravel interactive informational and shopping service; Meeting room technology: ISDN lines are being added to major ballrooms. TeleSuite teleconferencing
Waldorf Astoria & Towers (New York City)In-room technology: Dual-line speaker phones, modems, fax machines in Tower rooms, 24-hour Business Center; Meeting room technology: TeleSuite teleconferencing
Windsor Court Hotel(New Orleans) In-room technology: Two-line telephones with three units per room; voice mail; data ports; fax machines in penthouse suites, with the rest of the rooms to have them within a year; Meeting room technology: T1 line phone switch, rooms can be wired for advanced data transmission