In meeting and guest rooms, the major hotel chains now provide technology that companies once considered frills. Read on for the latest news and upgrades.
Adam's Mark Hotels & Resorts (800) 766-MEET www.adamsmark.com
Of Adam's Mark's 22 hotels, the Adam's Mark Dallas has the company's most advanced meeting technology, with network connectivity, fiber optics, DSL, and ISDN in all 230,000 square feet of its meeting space, as well as data ports for Internet access in all 1,842 guest rooms. At a recent meeting, high-speed connections linked every meeting room in the hotel to each other and to various external servers.
Delta Hotels and Resorts (800) 387-1265 www.deltahotels.com
By year's end, most guest rooms in Delta Hotels and Resorts' 31 hotels will have high-speed Internet access.
At the Delta Vancouver Suites, each of 226 suites has high-speed Internet access for $9.95 a day, two telephone lines, two speakerphones, and a data port. "Plug-and-play" capabilities in rooms and the lobby offer access to the Internet with almost any laptop computer. The 5,000 square feet of meeting space feature high-speed Internet access with remote capabilities, numerous telephone lines, and extensive audiovisual equipment. Simultaneous interpretation in seven languages can be accessed through a facility connected to the hotel.
Fairmont Hotels & Resorts (800) 866-5577 www.fairmont.com
Some meeting rooms in this chain feature Ethernet lines with 10-megabit capacity (200 times faster than a normal modem) carried on a T3 backbone; this will become standard in all locations. Each Fairmont hotel has two to three tech staff people. Plug-and-play technology for wireless Internet connections is being installed in guest rooms for laptops.
The 392 guest rooms at The Fairmont Vancouver Airport all have Internet access, and the 14 meeting rooms (7,000 square feet of space) offer teleconferencing, videoconferencing, and Internet access. Fairmont can customize technology. At a meeting at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess in Scottsdale, Ariz., T1 lines were installed to connect a group to its headquarters in Houston, Texas.
Hilton Hotels Corp. (800) 321-3232 www.hilton.com
Hilton has T1 lines in all meeting rooms and plans to increase its bandwidth to BS3. Hilton's full-service hotels offer on-demand video and high-speed Internet access in selected guest rooms. Plans include Internet access in all rooms as well as videoconferencing in all hotels.
Hyatt Hotels & Resorts (800) 543-1818 www.hyatt.com
Hyatt's meeting capacities range from hotels just starting to install T1 lines to fiber optics and videoconferencing in its larger properties. Hyatt plans to install high speed Internet access in all its rooms within the next year. The 793-room Hyatt Regency San Francisco Airport has high-speed connectivity to meeting rooms, a full multiload fiber backbone, and broadband Internet access. This hotel, with 52,000 square feet of meeting space, has 20 highly certified technical engineers on staff to build networks for clients.
Inter-Continental Hotels and Resorts (800) 327-0200 www.interconti.com
All North American Inter-Continentals will have T1 lines by the end of 2000, and a quarter of all rooms will have PCs.
The chain's CyberAssist program provides 24-hour technology support service worldwide to help guests connect their computers to the hotel's power and telephone systems and provide support for word processing and spreadsheet packages, Web browsers, e-mail applications, and scanners and other hardware.
Kimpton Group (415) 397-5572 www.kimptongroup.com
Many of the Kimpton Group's 28 hotels feature in-room fax machines, dual-line phones, and high-speed Internet access. At Kimpton's Serrano Hotel, in San Francisco, which offers 3,000 square feet of meeting space, guest rooms have Darwin networks that can be accessed for $9.95 a day. At the 189-room Hotel Monaco in Denver, with 4,000 square feet of meeting space, rooms feature IPORT, which offers 50 times faster Internet connections than modems.
Loews Hotels (212) 521-2000 www.loewshotels.com
One Loews' most wired hotels, the Loews Miami Beach, has ISDN, T1, and videoconferencing access throughout its 8,500 square feet of meeting space. The 800 guest rooms have data ports, and select rooms will soon have Web TV.
The hotel recently hosted a wired meeting for Sherman, Conn.-based Phocuswright, an Internet travel consulting group. The meeting, attended by approximately 800 people, used simultaneous translations, audience response keypads, and a special name tag ID scanner that displayed a person's name, face, and words on screen when he or she spoke.
Marriott International Hotels, Resorts, and Suites (800) 626-3614 www.marriott.com
Marriott International plans to install STSN (Suite Technology Systems Network) high-speed Internet access systems in guest rooms, meeting rooms, and business centers of 500 properties by the end of the year. The system provides secure Internet access up to 50 times faster than conventional data ports. More than 100 Marriott properties have the plug-and-play system, which works with any laptop or computer.
In addition to 24-hour Internet access for $9.95 a day, guests can access a customized Web site that provides information on hotel amenities, business services, local restaurants, special online conference services, transportation, and shopping. Marriotts also have tech support teams.
ISDN videoconferencing provides audio and video interactivity at more than 300 Marriott and Renaissance Hotels, Resorts, and Suites and Marriott Conference Centers worldwide. Web streaming capabilities allow Web-based broadcasting and program archiving.
Omni Hotels (800) OMNI-EXP www.omnihotels.com
Each Omni guest room has two dual-line speaker phones and a modem jack. By October, rooms will have high-speed Internet access.
Omni's meeting rooms have dial-up extensions off its phone system, with patch panels in place so that eight to 10 extensions can be added to a meeting room; meeting rooms also have Category 5 cabling for data and high-speed technology. Two of Omni's hotels, Omni Interlocken Resort in Broomfield, Colo., and Omni Austin Hotel Downtown in Austin, Texas, have high-speed Internet access in their meeting rooms. Each hotel has a technology person on staff.
The 390-room Omni Interlocken in Broomfield, Colo., has high-speed Internet access in all its guest rooms, meeting rooms, and common areas. A Category 5 fiber-optic backbone infrastructure that can be accessed throughout the hotel offers wireless Internet access and videoconferencing capabilities.
Radisson Hotels & Resorts (800) 444-3344 www.radisson.com
Radisson hotels offer comprehensive broadband interactive communications in guest rooms, meeting rooms, and common areas of 30 hotels in North America. For $10 a day, guests with laptops outfitted with a standard Ethernet card can simultaneously access the Internet and talk on the phone.
Nearly 50 Radisson hotels and resorts in the United States and Canada offer videoconferencing, including point-to-point, multipoint, multicast, and streaming video.
Ritz-Carlton Hotels (800) 241-3333 www.ritzcarlton.com.
The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Co. claims to be the first luxury hotel company to have Internet access in all the guest rooms of 15 of its hotels. This high-speed access allows guests with a standard Ethernet or USB cable to simultaneously access the Internet and talk on the phone for $9.95 a day.
A link to the hotels' business centers also allows guests to print documents, order copies, or send/receive a fax directly from their PCs. Another feature: Notes, agendas, or chat sessions can be made available for each meeting's individualized link from the hotel's home page.
Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts New York, (212) 768-3190; Los Angeles, (310) 665-2000 www.shangri-la.com
All of Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts' 37 hotels and resorts in 10 Asian countries are adding high-speed Internet connections to guest rooms. The 703-room Makati Shangri-La, Manila, has installed two in-room Internet products: MagiNet Laptop Connect (MLC) and Passport, giving guests high-speed, full-bandwidth connections to the Internet without the need for a local Internet Service Provider.
At the 850-room Shangri-La Bangkok, which has a ballroom that can accommodate 1,000 theater-style and 23 other meeting rooms totaling 55,812 square feet of space, can handle meetings that require special technology. At a recent teleconference meeting there, guests watched a conference in Hawaii, listened to the keynote speaker in Sri Lanka, and were able to ask live questions of both the speaker and the meeting panel.
Sonesta Hotels & Resorts (800) 477-4556 www.sonesta.com
Sonesta's standard in U.S. properties is ISDN or T1 lines in meeting rooms; the chain will soon install T1 lines in all domestic meeting rooms. Each hotel has a tech consultant for groups.
One of Sonesta's most technologically advanced properties, the Royal Sonesta Hotel in Cambridge, Mass., has multiple phone lines in all suites and modem ports in all guest rooms, with high-speed Internet access to all 22,000 square feet of meeting space and 400 guest rooms. T1 lines as well as multiple Category 5 cabling connect all meeting rooms. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology recently hosted a meeting here with 125 simultaneous connections to the Internet.
Starwood Hotels & Resorts (800) 325-3535 www.starwood.com
Standard guest-room technology at Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide's hotels includes two phone lines, and 20 percent of rooms have a printer/fax/ copier.
Starwood outfits its meeting rooms with T1 lines to the hotel and 100 megabit lines to meeting rooms; T1 lines can be provided to meeting rooms as needed. Each hotel has a consultant on staff.
Starwood's most technologically advanced properties include Walt Disney World's Dolphin and Swan, the Sheraton New York, and New York City's St. Regis.
Swissotel (800)63swiss www.swissotel.com
Swissotel's "Business Advantage Rooms" have in-room faxes and two-line phones with modem ports. Videoconferencing equipment is standard in the 23 Swissotels around the world; most have ISDN lines, and some have fiber-optic backbones. T1 lines to all function rooms can be arranged. All hotels have staff tech teams.
The 320-room Swissotel Berlin, opening in 2001, will set the standard for the chain's guest-room technology with LCD televisions that can display digital television and PC content, plus DVD and surround sound. The hotel will have nine meeting rooms and one ballroom that can accommodate groups of 30 to 350.
Walt Disney World Resort (407) 828-3074 www.disney.com
Each of the Disney Meeting resorts has data ports available in guest rooms; additional lines can be provided for high-speed Internet access.
Disney resorts' meeting rooms can provide T1 lines, ISDN, videoconferencing, and fiber-optic and broadcasting (satellite up- and downlink) capability. A single contact person works with each group, with backup as needed from on-site information services, telecommunications, and broadcasting experts.
Walt Disney World resorts regularly host high-tech events and organizations. Recently, the Corolado Spring Resort, which features more than 95,000 square feet of meeting space, created a client network connecting several on-site hotels. And when bad weather closed airports in New York City, Disney coordinated a two-way videoconference for stranded attendees to take part in meeting at the Walt Disney World Resort.
Westin Hotels & Resorts (800) 301-1111 www.westin.com Westin features office accommodations for business travelers, with in-room laser printer/fax/copier and dual-line speakerphone with data ports.
The new 369-room Westin Westminster, in Colorado's high-tech corridor, built to the tune of $200,000 per guest room, offers Ethernet ports with giga-speed cabling and a fiber-optic backbone allowing Internet access at 200 times the speed of a high-speed modem. The hotel also offers WaveLAN, a card granting wireless high-speed Internet access.
The hotel's 40,000 square feet of meeting space combines giga-speed drops, fiber drops, and telephone drops, which may be arranged to accommodate different data requirements and up to 10,000 simultaneously active computers.
Wyndham International Hotels & Resorts (800) 996-4016 www.wyndham.com
Wyndham will soon have T1 lines in all guest rooms and meeting rooms.
The 1,620-room Wyndham Anatole Hotel in Dallas has 300,000 square feet of meeting space equipped with a fiber-optic backbone for Category 5 cabling. No electronics are installed yet, but patch panels are labeled to coincide with the wall plates to the meeting rooms. The hotel will soon offer Internet access at least T1 speeds, as well as wireless access in all public areas. This infrastructure also allows for videoconferencing as well as Internet meetings.
How Wired Are They? Most conference centers are well-equipped to fill customers' high-tech requests, according to the results of a recent survey of 92 IACC (International Association of Conference Center) members. All responding centers said they offer Internet access in their meeting rooms, except for a couple of corporate-owned facilities, for an average price per day of $96. Most still offer access through regular telephone lines, but 29 percent having installed T1 lines. Seventy-five percent of the facilities said they provide videoconferences, the majority (59 percent) doing so through portable systems using ISDN lines; just over a quarter have built-in up/downlinks. For training meetings that require computers, 12 percent of respondents can provide the hardware.
In-room technology in conference centers is on par with other types of facilities: 89 percent of the centers responding to IACC's survey have data ports in the rooms (about half provide two or more lines), 23 percent provide in-room computers, and 16 percent provide in-room faxes.
IACC's membership consists primarily of college/university centers (24 percent), executive conference centers (22 percent), corporate conference centers (20 percent), and resort conference centers (14 percent). --Barbara Scofidio
It's the Tech Support That Counts What matters most to a company when choosing a tech savvy hotel? At PriceWaterhouseCoopers LLP, which holds hundreds of meetings each year, it's not just the latest technology, it's the tech support, says Tampa, Fla.-based Trevor Welsh, manager of Global Technology Solutions (GTS).
"Individuals usually don't have an understanding of things like networks and patches," says Welsh. "Yet in most instances, a phone technician is all they get."
Ritz-Carlton has solved this problem with "technology butlers" in each hotel on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Among the most common problems they solve: getting access to the Internet and personal e-mail, resolving software compatibility issues, and using in-room fax machines. The "butlers" also can provide voltage conversion/adapters for international guests; cellphone, pager and PalmPilot rentals; and even help organizing conference calls.