Hotels Gone High-Tech
Leah Walker December 16, 2014

Do you remember when hotels first ditched the old-school metal keys in favor of plastic electronic cards? With the exception of some independently owned motels and a handful classic European luxury hotels, actual keys attached to a key chain are a thing of the past. Boxy tabletop televisions with bunny ears have given way to sleek, LED televisions with HD channels. Glacially slow Internet has gone the way of the dinosaurs, with even the most basic hotel room offering high-speed Wi-Fi.

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Given the number of hotels I’ve stayed in and toured over the last few years, I’ve gotten to see the next big things in terms of technology. Though I have to admit, sometimes it’s a bit overwhelming. There was the night in a Paris hotel that I couldn’t figure out how to turn off the Bang & Olufsen television. I finally just put the thing on mute, threw the comforter over it and went to sleep. Figuring out all the switches can be a battle as well. From motorized curtains to computerized toilets to finding the exact button that turns on the bedside lamp, sometimes technology can be a bit frustrating. Nonetheless, I’m eager to experience the latest technology found in hotels.

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At the Kempinski Grand Hôtel des Bains in Vienna, everything I could possibly need was found in the form of an in-room iPad. Not only did the iPad control the television, lights, temperature, and curtains, but with a few swipes of my fingertips, room and laundry service were also available. I’ve also seen iPads recently in Paris’ Hotel de Sers.

Even workout facilities are going high-tech with cardio equipment. Touch screens and Internet access make updating your Facebook status or looking for your next hotel simple, even while working up a sweat. And I can’t even begin to describe the motion-activated, programmable toilet at Four Seasons Resort Lanai at Manele Bay. The toilet senses your presence, lifts its lid, lights up, and then proceeds to flush itself and lower the lid. The cleaning preference also can be programed for two different people.

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To enhance their guests’ travel experiences, several Paris hotels have created smart phone apps. The Hyatt Paris Madeleine, Le Royal Monceau, and Hotel Napoleon apps not only provide information on the hotel and its services, but also offer recommendations on nearby restaurants, nightlife, shopping, sightseeing, an offline map, and other valuable information for the city’s visitors.

The app created by InterContinental Paris-Le Grand contains audio tours for both inside and outside of the property. It also gives a historical timeline of the hotel, along with a photo gallery and its connection with the cinema. At Four Seasons Punta Mita, there’s an app with an audio tour featuring the resort’s artwork from several renowned Puerto Vallarta art galleries.

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Perhaps the most technically advanced hotel I’ve seen is the Peninsula Hotel in Paris. Having opened this fall after a seven –year renovation, the Peninsula has all the modern bells and whistles expected from a soon-to-be palace hotel, as well as some I’ve never imagined. Just a few of these high-tech amenities include a bedside contraption that I’m certain controls the universe {in eleven languages}; LED touch screen wall panels {again, in 11 languages}; free VOIP long distance calls; noise-cancelling headphones; 4-in-1 fax/scanner/printer/photocopier; hands-free wireless phone; bathroom mood lighting; and a wall-embedded NAIL DRYER {what?!?}.

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Hotel technology continues to evolve, making the guest experience better. However, no fancy gadget will ever replace good, old-fashioned customer service. In my opinion, that will always be the cornerstone of a great hotel stay.

Note: There are affiliate links in this post, meaning I make a small commission if you make a purchase through my links. It costs you nothing more, but helps keep me stocked in French wine {and a roof over my head}.

Leah Walker

Leah has a marketing management company specializing in strategy, content creation and implementation for luxury brands and destinations. She's also a luxury travel and food writer who has as many stories as she does shoes. Leah documents her experiences whether that's in the lap of luxury or riding through a swamp in an airboat. She sometimes freelances and has contributor/editor roles with The Daily Meal, USA Today 10 Best, Bonjour Paris, France Today, Luxe Beat Magazine, Four Seasons Magazine, Forbes Travel Guide, and is a travel and wine ambassador for Atout France USA. Leah's lived in Paris for four years, and was awarded additional time with a Passeport Talent visa renewal. Though, her talent for speaking French is abysmal.

4 Comments

  1. Haha – the toilet and the nail dryer are hillarious! Personally, I’m still over the moon if my accommodation has free wifi. And if it has a tv? Luxury!

    1. Free Wi-Fi excites me to no end, so you’re not alone. That toilet was crazy and totally a first for me. The nail dryer? Well, I’d paint my nails just to use it.

  2. Interesting I like the in house Ipad idea. I that it’s pretty cool that we can control almost everything in the hotel room with a touch scree these days.

    1. The level of technology in hotels today is astounding. Sometimes it’s too much and I can’t figure out all the buttons.

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