Thinking About Amenities today

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and readed 2 very interesting articles:"Hotel amenities reflect cutting-edge technology" from Kitty Bean Yancey, USA TODAY.
Television sets in hotel bathrooms aren't unusual fixtures.

But now you can watch a TV that's embedded in the bathroom mirror.

Rooms and suites at The Charles Hotel inCambridge, Mass., have just been equipped with the cutting-edge "TV inthe mirror" technology. Point the remote at the mirror, and you cancatch up on the news or a favorite show while shaving or brushing yourteeth.

The TVs, from a company called Séura, work witha specially-designed mirror. When the TV is turned on, the pictureappears in the mirror; it vanishes when turned off. All 337 rooms andsuites at The Charles, a stone's throw from Harvard Square, areequipped with the TVs; rates start at $299.

TVs in the mirror also are offered at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, in the hotel's two-story Skylofts and new 700-room West Wing.

Skylofts are luxury suites loaded with high-techgizmos. They can be booked for $600 at off-peak times, but generallycost much more.

Rates for West Wing rooms start at about $100 during slow periods.

And TV mirrors aren't the only amazing, sci-fi-style. development on the hotel landscape.

For instance, have you ever lost a hotel key or fumbled trying to fit a key card the right way into the slot on the door?

Wouldn't it be easier to open the door to yourroom with a mere touch of your finger and never have to think twiceabout carrying a key when you walk down the hall to the ice machine?

You can do that now at hotels including the Murano Urban Resort in the trendy Marais area of Paris.

The fingerprinting is done when you check in.Hotel housekeepers also have fingerprint access, but only during theirshifts, says a hotel spokesman.

So far the only glitch has been with abusinessman or two who've had a little too much to drink and have hadproblems pressing their fingertips in the correct spot, says Muranoassistant manager Lorris Camarzana.

Other ideas that may be fixtures in hotel roomsof the future, showcased at trade gatherings, are even morejaw-dropping. They include:

• Bathrooms that look like mini-spas and bathingareas with futuristic flourishes. Imagine a bathroom with an automaticbody-drying system.

• A hotel room that can be transformed intodifferent configurations and environments at the touch of a button,depending on the needs and mood of the guest.

• A bed that could track your blood pressure.

• A "bacteria bomb" that would let you personally sanitize your hotel room on arrival.

Think about it — no longer being afraid of touching the bedspread.

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he hotel industry startedmore than a century ago when stagecoach outposts gave overlandtravelers a refuge from the elements--and little else. Nowadays,however, five-star properties offer well-heeled guests spa treatments,personal butlers and even room service for pets.

Such popular services and experiences could be helping keepoccupancy rates high. Luxury hotels have yet to suffer from thesluggish economy, with occupancy falling just 1% between January andMay 2008 as compared to the same time period in 2007, according toSmith Travel Research, which collects data on the lodging industry.

While that's an insignificant dip for a market that made $29 billionin revenue last year, luxury hotels are still fighting for customers;creative, high-end amenities and services help them stand out.Stephanie Ricca, editor of the trade magazine Luxury Hotelier, says that top-tier properties are in "reinvention mode."

"Having a similar-looking property in different cities around theworld isn't going to work anymore," Ricca says. "They have to keepthings fresh."

Top-Flight Service
High-end properties, says American Hotel & Lodging Associationpresident Joe McInerney, aspire to give guests a "home away from home."Of the luxury hotels recently surveyed by the AH&LA, 81% had flatscreen TVs and about 60% had docking stations and DVD players.

Since such features are standard at most properties, hotelsdistinguish themselves by focusing on outstanding service. At KeswickHall, a colonial-style. mansion at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountainsin Virginia, new mothers can call on the baby butler.This attendant warms bottles, places a rocking chair and personalizedcrib in the room and rocks the baby to sleep while mom soaks in thetub.

The baby butler may be a unique service, but enhanced concierge andbutler programs have become an industry bellwether. Steven Ferry,chairman of the International Institute of Modern Butlers, has noticeda dramatic increase in the number of hotels adding butlers to theirstaff in the past four years. They are trained to handle even theslightest of needs, from drawing a bath at the perfect temperature, toserving morning tea, to laying out a guest's clothes in the morning. Aproperly trained butler, says Ferry, will anticipate a guest's needsand address them seamlessly.

Details Small and Large
While there are at least 150 hotel butler programs around the world,according to Ferry's organization, properties are incorporating anumber of services to satisfy their guests.

Some concentrate on minor but telling details.At the Ritz Madrid in Spain, monogrammed robes are placed in a guest'sroom before arrival. At Jade Mountain, a Caribbean resort, a poem isplaced on each pillow at turn down.

Other hotels target a specific type of guest, like the pet-owner or environmentalist.The Lowell New York offers room service for pets, with choices likefilet mignon tartar and organic buffalo marrow bone. At the FourSeasons Resort Nevis in the West Indies, guests can contribute to localconservation efforts by paying to adopt an endangered sea turtle, whichhas been tagged with a satellite transmitter for research purposes.Adoptive guests then monitor their turtles' migratory patterns via anInternet-based program.

How much is too much when it comes to hotel luxury? Weigh in. Add your thoughts in the Reader Comments section below.

Many luxury hotels have also shifted from a staid atmosphere to one that indulges their guests' interests, whether that's gourmet food or adventurous excursions.

The Enchantment Resort, a spa in Sedona, Ariz., has outfitted roomterraces with built-in grills and offers an assortment of meats whichare delivered by room service. At the Banyan Tree Phuket in Thailand,guests can fly by private plane to a secluded island, where they'llwatch the sun rise over breakfast. This may sound unoriginal, but themost sophisticated hotels integrate a guest's every whim to make theexperience truly memorable.

Such extravagances will only become more common among luxury hotelssince fierce competition begets stand-out services and amenities.

"Once a hotel comes up with a specialty item," says McInerney,"you're only holding a competitive edge until another hotel does thesame thing."


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