High Tech Hotels Make Vacationing Smart

hthmInstead of making hotel rooms feel like luxurious versions of home, innkeepers today are trying to make rooms more like your office. “Historically, hotels have [offered] business centers,” explains Gary Hamilton, professor of law and operations at the School of Hotel & Restaurant Management at Brooklyn College Community Partnership. “But now everybody has laptops, so the nature of business has fundamentally changed again.” Hamilton explains that to survive, hotels now have to provide accommodations that offer the very technology that would otherwise cut into the hotel’s business by keeping potential travelers in their offices.

The new Cyber Suite in the Los Angeles Westin Century Plaza represents the high end of hotel high-tech. The Cyber Suite features plasma-screen TVs with high-speed Internet access, real-time videoconferencing, a multimedia computer with wireless mouse, a CD stereo system to blow any hi-fi nut’s mind, a videodisc player, cell phone service on and off ‘ hotel property, and a voice-activated “butler in a box” to work lights, doors, and more– all for a hefty $2,000 a night.

That’s a little rich for most travelers’ pocketbooks. But moderately priced hotels are accommodating business guests with increased in-room technology offerings as well. Radisson’s Business Class program offers free phone access, no fax surcharges, a computer workstation, and computer hookup. At Hilton Garden Inns, a middle-marker hotel group with 25 hotels and 100 planned by the year 2000, rooms feature desk space for portable computers, electrical outlets and phone jacks at desk height instead of at baseboard level, and two telephones with dataports. “Midpriced hotels currently offer the greatest development opportunity for Hilton,” says James Abrahamson, senior vice president of franchising. “Our research shows there’s increased demand by travelers for [in-room technology].”

High-speed Internet access is also gaining in hotel rooms. The Fourth Communications Network of San Jose, California, is currently installing high-speed Internet access through hotel room PCs and TVs in more than a dozen chains, including Holiday Inns, Embassy Suites, and Hiltons.

Finally, look for hotel rooms featuring standalone, fully dedicated, high-speed Internet access systems–similar to ATMs–which are debuting nationwide from Atcom/ Info in partnership with Microsoft. Oakland, California’s Claremont Hotel and,Washington, D.C.’s Renaissance hotels are up to ISDN speed with this system, and “many major hotel companies are talking to Atcom about testing installations,” reports Michael Mahoney, director of hospitality consulting services at Coopers & Lybrand LLP in Los Angeles.

Trying to juggle work and family is especially hard when your home is your workplace. In Hew to Raise e Family and a Career Under One Reef (Bookhaven Press; $15.95), author Lisa Roberts combines real-life experience with practical advice on what it takes to launch and nurture a business and family at the same time, in the same place. Roberts explores the impact of working at home on children, marriage, the household, and the individual. To help you cope, she provides exercises and suggested readings, and lists outlets where you can seek support in your quest for the perfect balance of a combined work and family life.


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One Response to “High Tech Hotels Make Vacationing Smart”
  1. Julie Evans says:

    Wow, I would love to try the Cyber Suite in Los Angeles. My kids and husband are all computer geeks and without internet access, they will definitely get bored. Thanks for the tip. Now I know where to take my family this coming holidays.

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