A silent revolution has been taking place in the hotel industry over the last few years. Seasoned travellers are finally starting to tire of the repetitive in-room control panel setup and leading hotel groups are now trying to out-do each other with more expedient, integrated and interconnected gadgetry available than ever before. Executive PA Magazine picks our favourite high tech hotels in Asia by Billy Clarke.
Sofitel So Bangkok
Apple have been leading technology stocks for quite some time now and an article about hotel technology would not be complete without some reference to them. Hotels have taken Apple to heart just as well as the stock market has, but none so much as Sofitel So Bangkok which, when it opens in early 2012, will be Asia’s first hotel to offer complete Apple-based digital solutions. In other words all of the hotel’s 238 rooms will come with an Apple Mac mini computer (suites with an iPad as well), together with high-definition LCD television, wireless keyboard, trackpad, free high-speed Internet access, and a full range of office software. As well as functioning as a multimedia centre, guests can also plug their USB drives into the system, and the hotel directory, in-room service menu and panoramic webcam views will be available as well.
Aloft Bangkok – Sukhumvit 11
Scheduled to open in October this year, Aloft is the latest brand from Starwood Hotels & Resorts and it will be the brand’s first entry inSoutheast Asia. Aloft hotels are forward-thinking destination hotels, and this trendy upcomingBangkokproperty is sure to make the heart ofThailandbeat a little bit faster. Located in the center of Bangkok’s entertainment district the hotel comes with easy access to the main business district, and the loft-inspired rooms feature modern conveniences like iPod docks, free WiFi, mood-lighting controls, and plug n’ play connectivity stations for charging electronics.
Ritz Carlton Hong Kong
The world’s highest hotel would not be complete without some first-rate technology and, not surprisingly, the new Ritz Carlton Hong Kong does not disappoint in this area. Slick, sleek and stylish from the get-go, this cutting-edge hotel is rife with novelties. It is a place where elevators zoom guests up at ear-popping speeds of 9-metres per second (compared to your average 2) and where public toilets flush with a satisfying beep – all this at skyscraping heights of 490-meters. Some other original touches around the property include the glass-enclosed infinity pool complete with a ceiling made up of 144 LED screens, a Technogym-equipped fitness centre with machines wired to the internet, plus B&O BeoSound 8 speakers in all the suites. iPads are also available to Club Lounge and meeting room guests, and all of the 312 guestrooms come with Blu-ray DVD players, iPod docks, Nespresso machines plus flat-screen LCD televisions (42-inch in the bedrooms and 17-inch in the bathrooms).
The Peninsula Toyko
With its own R&D team and a designated electronics service department, The Peninsula Hotels Group knows more than their fair share about hotel technology. In fact the group even claims to have pioneered in-room satellite TV and a nifty indolent in-built bathtub ‘telephone’ (a keypad accessible from the bathtub with a microphone embedded in the bathroom ceiling that silences music when calls are taken) at their long-standing Hong Kong property. ThePeninsulainTokyotakes things to another level however, with the forward-looking property having embraced new technologies quicker than nerds at a tech conference. What this equates to is 314 liberally-appointed rooms which boast features such as wireless phones with Skype that can be used hotel-wide; three-in-one fax/copy/print machines that can print photos for free; an in-room nail-dryer; a wireless bedside electronic panel; dimmable Lutron lights that considerately fade into darkness at night; plus 3000-station internet radio and plasma screen televisions. The toiletry technology includes electronic Toto toilets, a digital clock set into the mirror, and a one-touch spa button which dims the lights, switches on soothing music and activates the do-not-disturb indicator. The hotel also uses iPads at the concierge desk and they even have an ‘iPeninsula’ app on which room, spa and restaurant reservations can be made.
Like Japan, Korea is home to some of the most technology-savvy people on the planet and, when W Hotels decided to venture into the market back in 2004 (the brand’s first Asian foray – and the second international W destination) they took this to heart and created a hotel that is still advanced today. Top features include new-fashioned rooms with 50-inch plasma screens onto which guest’s own self-created art and images can be projected; hotel-wide Bose CD players; a suite with a flowing waterfall and a dining room with illuminated colour-changing flooring; plus an interactive media centre complete with videos games, pre-programmed music and movies in all rooms. However, despite the finely outfitted and fiercely stylish rooms, the chicly-designed public areas are where the hotel shines most. There are LED lights embedded in the lobby floor, digital graphics projected onto walls around the bar, and interactive artwork including a shape-shifting wooden sculpture that detects and reflects external movement and one that creates visual depictions of the subjects in front of them.
The Mandarin Oriental, Macau
At just over a year old, this beauty of a property remains to be one of the more unique hotels in Macau largely because, as the only non-gaming, five-star hotel on the Macau Peninsula, the Mandarin Oriental Macau places its focus on areas other than gambling. Thus, guests here are presented with a top spa, exclusive meeting and conference facilities, plus some fine dining options and 213 super-equipped guestrooms as well. Guestroom technological comforts include over 100 on-demand HD movies, over 200 available internet radio channels, 10,000 available songs, internet on the television, an iPod dock, plus hydro massage-equipped showers, television-side bathtubs, and Nespresso coffee machines. The on-property gym is also the first to have a Technogym Wellness System in Macau, which provides guests with the Technogym Key System that can record and monitor their workout sessions each visit.Originally published in Executive PA Magazine, Asia