At Hotel 1000 in downtown Seattle, guests who want to sleep late don’t have to hang a “Do Not Disturb” sign on their doorknobs. Each of the hotel’s rooms contains an infrared sensor that detects body heat and displays the results to the housekeeping staff on a door panel (unless the guest doesn’t want it to). If the sensor shows someone is in the room, the cleaners skip it and move on.
That’s just one of the innovative features at the hotel, which also has a “virtual golf club” that lets guests practice their swing in the simulated environment of any of 50 courses from around the world. An infrared tracking system measures the height and speed of their ball as guests hit toward a screen showing the virtual course. They can even book a golf pro at the hotel to help improve their results.
“Before you go to Pebble Beach, you should come and practice with us – the greens fees aren’t nearly as high,” quips Tawny Paperd, the hotel’s director of sales and marketing.
Welcome to the world of high-tech hotels, where small boutiques and big chains alike are vying for the business of tech-savvy travelers by providing them with an ever-evolving set of geeky goodies.
Beyond Hotel 1000, here are some other notable examples:
- Starwood preferred guests can download a hotel app on their iPhone, iPad, or Android device that will open the door to their rooms, eliminating worries about lost keys.
- Boston’s Hyatt Regency provides business travelers with an iPad app that lets them select equipment and chairs they want to use in a conference room and visualize the results.
- At the Upper House Hong Kong, staff check guests in on an iPad, which is also used for concierge services. Guests get an iPod Touch in their rooms.
- At the Aloft Cupertino in California, guests get Apple TV internet-streaming boxes in their rooms, and in the lobby, they can use tablets to make restaurant reservations, get flight information and print boarding passes.
- The Mira Hong Kong “clones” a guest’s room phone to a smartphone it provides , so they never miss messages while in the city and won’t be assessed roaming charges. Like other high-tech hotels, the Mira also allows guests to connect to a concierge through its smartphone with the press of a digital button.