While free WiFi is commonplace around the world, Australian hotels have long regarded internet access as the technology version of the mini bar, charging excessive prices just to log on for an hour or two.
But the way we travel is changing, with a 2013 survey suggesting 40% of travellers leave home with three or more mobile devices. Smartphones and the ability to hotspot off your phone means we’re less reliant on hotel WiFi. And nonetheless, the technology in the latest hotels is about more than checking email. Think 4D teleporters, luggage storing robots, infrared doorbells, and keyless iPhone room entry.
Looking for the best in technology, we asked Hotelclub.com to nominate 10 Australian tech hotels leading the way.
Don’t let the 1920s façade fool you. Located on Lake Burley Griffin, Peppers Gallery is a contemporary hotel at heart. Move past the modern-art installations, stylish rugs and designer armchairs in the foyer, through the neon sculpture lit corridors and you’ll find rooms well catered to the every day technophile. Bang & Olufsen televisions with cable and DVD players, lightning fast WI-FI, MP3 connections and a fully stocked automated mini bar.
Hong Kong family owned Ovolo’s motto is “… to provide guests with the BEST in effortless living”… and that’s just what you’ll get at their newest Melbourne location. A state-of-the-art flat screen TV with Apple TV and tones of channels, plus free high-speed Wi-Fi for unlimited devices, free local phone calls, and even your very own iPad. Free in-room snacks, breakfast and flexible checkout is the icing on the cake.
Nominated for Best Tech Hotel (Hotel Management Awards 2013, 2014), guests at The Darling get complete technological control in any of their 174 suites. Here, one high-tech but easy to use remote gives guests control over lighting, temperature, a Samsung LED 3D TV, a Bose Cinemate music system and Video-on-Demand. Upon exiting the room guests can hit a button by the door, which closes the blinds, turns off lights and adjusts the air-con. And if you forget, no stress, after 30 minutes the smart system will sense that you are gone and do it for you.
A glam refurbishment last year has seen the Park Royal introduce the latest in hotel technology, making it a treat for techy travellers. There’s an online system that tracks each guest’s preferences, such as ideal checkout time. Room keys keep track of guests’ movements so that they can be alerted with important hotel messages or even if they leave their door ajar. Soon the technology will also allow guests to check-in using their smartphone, which can then be used as the room key.
The Ibis hotel is brand spanking new and an absolute treat for the tech-traveller. The rooms are unashamedly modern in design with high-tech chic lighting and, of course, lightening-speed WI-FI, which is needed to run the super smart and slim Samsung Smart Hub 690 Series TV. From this baby one can access anything from the room service menus, to on demand entertainment and Internet-enabled TV. Fitness techies are also covered with start-of-the-art, Bluetooth enabled Technogym equipment in the hotel’s gymnasium.
This Mercure hotel is the first in the chain to implement an ‘interactive lobby’ concept. Here, in a funky and modern but relaxed environment, where staff roam freely with iPads, ready to assist. Guests can help themselves to free Nespresso coffee whilst browsing on one of the complimentary iPads or Mac computers. Free high-speed WI-FI throughout seals the deal for this techy haven.
The super cool Establishment Hotel is tucked down a laneway in the heart of Sydney’s CBD. Rooms here feature touch screen controls, Bose entertainment systems and an iPad beside each bed. But that’s just the beginning, guests can also stream games, music and movies through their room’s Apple TV, plus they’ll also receive digital editions of international newspapers direct to their bedside iPad. Free WI-FI also features throughout.
The Sofitel hotel has been a high tech game player for some years now. Set in the exclusive Paris end of Melbourne it offers guests stunning views with technical genius to match. Guests can control all room functions such as ambient lighting, the LED TV and surround sound from the state-of-the-art MyBed control panel.
Bathrooms are also fitted with technologies like automated lighting, which flick on when you enter the bathroom (no more fumbling in the dark) and fog free mirrors. The level 50 Imperial & Opera Suites also offer Aquavision TVs in the bathroom to go with the circular spa.
This quirky designer hotel has all the technology trimmings one would expect from such a contemporary hotel, like high-speed Wi-Fi and even digital artwork. But there’s one very entertaining stand out. The elevators here have sensors that calculate the number of guest in them and then play 'appropriate' music. If you were riding solo you might hear 'Are You Lonely Tonight?' by Elvis or perhaps Eric Carmen’s 'All By Myself'. If another person were to enter the lift with you might find yourself humming along to 'Just the Two of Us' by Bill Withers or if it’s a full house Prince’s '1999' will get the party started. It’s not surprising QT won Best Tech Hotel at the Hotel Management Awards 2013.
Arty, contemporary, techno heaven awaits at the Mona Pavilions, part of the weird and wonderful MONA (Museum of Old and New Art). Just 15 minutes from Hobart and set amongst stunning landscape, each pavilion is a work of high-tech-art itself with a mix of elegant glass cubes, diamond shaped buildings and steel frames suspended above water.
Inside guests have access online imagery streamed from the exclusive MONA collection. Other techno toys include docking stations for your iPod or iPhone, in-room WI-FI, a music server, 5.1 digital surround sound, a Blu-ray disc player and Dynalite controlled lighting. All are controlled via wireless touch panels, of course. There’s also an Aquavision LCD TV with waterproof controls to enjoy whilst relaxing in your very own spa. Oh and if you’re the security conscious type, you’ll be pleased to hear that each pavilion has its own personal security camera.
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