Last June, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide and Marriott International each announced plans to add public Telepresence suites to a number of business hotels in major cities around the world. Now, within weeks of each other, the two chains have reported their first openings.

At the end of January, TelePresence suites opened at the New York Marriott Eastside and Bethesda North Hotel and Conference Center. Marriott has said that suites will come online at the Renaissance Washington D.C. and Marriott Dallas/Fort Worth Airport in March, and at the JW Marriott San Francisco Union Square in April. Suites are also scheduled to launch in 2010 at Marriotts in Denver, Atlanta, Miami, London, Frankfurt, Hong Kong, Shanghai, and Sao Paulo.

Starwood opened TelePresence suites on February 23 at the W Chicago City Center and Sheraton on the Park Sydney, and the company expects suites to be ready by June at the Sheraton New York Hotel & Towers and Sheraton Centre Toronto, and by the end of the year at the Westin Los Angeles Airport.

Both chains use Cisco’s TelePresence technology, which provides immersive, high-definition teleconferencing. Until now, the systems have been used primarily by very large companies that can afford to purchase the expensive technology. "More businesses are recognizing the value of being able to rent Cisco TelePresence facilities by the hour, either to extend their existing deployment to further locations or to experience Cisco TelePresence for the first time," said Mark Weidick, vice president, general manager for Cisco's TelePresence Exchange Business Unit, in a press release. “The value of public suites facilities increases exponentially as more rooms from more providers come on stream.”

Marriott is working with ATT as its telecommunications provider while Starwood is aligned with Tata Communications. Tata has 11 other public TelePresence suites in its network, including Cisco’s public site in Santa Clara, Calif., and a suite at the Taj Hotel, Boston.