How many gadgets do you travel with? A laptop? An iPod? A digital camera? Chances are all three, plus a camcorder if you’re on a site visit, and video games if you’re with kids. Marriott Hotels & Resorts has created an ultra-adaptable room with a single plug-in entertainment panel to centralize in-room work and entertainment options, and is rolling it out in its Marriott, JW Marriott and Renaissance brands.
Through the panel, guests can connect personal electronic systems to the 32” LCD high-definition television (HDTV) set in their room. Plug in your MP3 player and listen to personal music through the advanced sound system; use the high-definition monitor to review pictures taken from your digital camera, watch movies from your portable DVD player, play video games, or catch up on work from the office. A split screen function also enables users to watch television while working on their laptop. For those who only want to watch television, sets will have between 45 and 64 programmed channels.
Ultra-adaptable rooms already are available in select locations; by the end of the year they will be present in nearly 25 percent of Marriott’s upscale rooms; by the end of 2009, all North American guestrooms are scheduled to be plugged in. But they’re not alone. Six Hyatt Place locations are in process of getting 42” HDTVs and plug-in panels for portable devices, and Hilton has begun testing its own versions.
Hilton Hotels Corp. also is teaming with ABC to provide guests with on-demand viewings of favorite television shows such as “Lost,” “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Ugly Betty.” For a $20 premium, guests will have access to complimentary Internet, five XM Satellite Radio channels, 40 DirectTV channels and the ABC Sight+Sound on-demand programming, which can replay episodes for up to 28 days after their initial broadcast date and give free season recaps.
Enhancing in-room technology is only one area in which the lodging industry is investing big bucks in 2007, but upgrading to HDTVs isn’t just a fashion statement. In February 2009, the analog broadcast system for U.S. television will be turned off; HDTV is one of three available digital picture-quality standards available, and the one most popular with high-end consumers.
Additional sources: USA Today, Los Angeles Times