Cool Tech

Comfort and connectivity are what today's guests want from their hotels. The technology has to be in place to allow them to work efficiently and quickly, but the ambience and look of the facilities are just as important for many guests.

The Westin Chicago River North recognized both trends when it recently renovated its Executive Club Level. The guestrooms on the four floors of the club, as well as a newly created lounge, combine a soothing, relaxing décor with the latest in computer and entertainment technology.

Every one of the club's 100 refurbished guestrooms features free high-speed Internet access, a speakerphone, ample desk space, and something not found in many hotel guestrooms: an iMac desktop computer.

“A computer is an added amenity, but we wanted a system that would differentiate us from other hotels in the market,“ says Peter Simoncelli, general manager. “Aesthetically, the iMac is perfect for the look of the rooms. Also, it's a completely integrated unit that operates very consistently and with virtually no problems, particularly with viruses.“

He says guests primarily use the iMacs to surf the web and to do simple word-processing. They can use the business center on a lower level for printing or other functions. The hotel's staff provides around-the-clock support, but Simoncelli says they mostly help guests connect their laptops to the Internet, not the iMacs.

The rooms feature a muted décor with an oatmeal-colored chair and chaise longue, dark chocolate-brown wooden headboard and soft wall coverings. For entertainment, each room has a 37-inch flat-panel TV and some have iPod docking stations. Simoncelli says they'll soon install in all club rooms a new-generation docking unit compatible with all models of iPods.

A key feature of the renovation project was conversion of a former presidential suite into the club room. Like the guestrooms, the club room features a sleek and subdued décor. The space is divided into a number of sections that are well-suited for small meetings.

“The goal in redoing the Executive Club was to make our guests' stays as easy and comfortable as possible,“ says Simoncelli, “and the club lounge in particular makes that happen. It has a very residential feel, but it's also a good place to conduct business.“

The lounge has free Wi-Fi, several 42-inch flat-screen TVs and a selection of magazines and local tourist literature. Other freebies include continental breakfast in the morning, evening hors d'oeuvres and an honor bar. Simoncelli says the continental breakfast is sufficient for most guests, “many of whom just want to grab a yogurt and a banana and go.“

Guests of the club level have access to the hotel's WestinWORKOUT Powered by Reebok Gym, as well as a private concierge and complimentary shoeshine service. Simoncelli says the club rooms get a $70 premium over the hotel's run-of-house room rates.

The 424-room Westin was built as a Hotel Nikko. It's located directly on the Chicago River in the city's blossoming River North restaurant, shopping and entertainment district.

Like most downtown Chicago hotels, the Westin is a transient property from Monday through Thursday and a tourist hotel on the weekends. It also does strong local banquet and catering business, hosting about 50 weddings a year. One attractive feature: the grand ballroom overlooks the water.

Even though Chicago recently slipped into third place (behind Las Vegas and Orlando) in the number of large conventions and trade shows hosted annually, Simoncelli believes the city's hospitality industry will continue to thrive. “I was born and raised here, so I have a bias,“ he says, “but few cities have the visitor options that Chicago does. It's a true destination.“

Later this year, the remaining guestrooms in the property will get an upgrade. The project will start in December and be finished by next March 1.

ENERGY MANAGEMENT Room occupancy sensor Preventive maintenance software Remote in-room wireless control All-in-one unit Central control, online monitoring “Green“ sensitivity PMS Interface Hskpg status notification Mechanical preventive maintenance Rapid response Room preventive maintenance Work Orders Infrared controller Other
Adaco Services — Circle 94
Amerisafe Industries — Circle 98
Bartech Systems Int'l — Circle 103
Data Plus — Circle 117
Energex — Circle 125
Energy Eye — Circle 126
Goodman Co./Amana — Circle 137
Green Suites International — Circle 138
INNCOM International — Circle 150
Intouch Digital Systems — Circle 154
KABA Lodging Systems — Circle 156
Keylink Solutions — Circle 235
Lodging Technology — Circle 159
Metromedia Software — Circle 162
Minibar Systems — Circle 165
Mintek Mobile Data Sol. — Circle 166
M-Tech — Circle 169
Northwind Maestro — Circle 173
Onity — Circle 177
Pineapple Hospitality — Circle 221
PSG Controls — Circle 184
Sharper Image — Circle 194
Teledex — Circle 204
USA Technologies — Circle 214

TRAINING AND IMPLEMENTATION Interactive capability Help desk/support Customized to customer Non-product-specific consulting On-site trainers Property-level technology selection Computer-based training capability Touchscreen workstations Videotape Strategic organizational consulting Web-based Distribution consulting service Other
Adaco Services — Circle 94
Agilysys — Circle 95
Amadeus Hospitality — Circle 97
Blue Square Studios — Circle 106
Booking Center — Circle 107
Brother International Corp. — Circle 225
Capton — Circle 109
Clairvoyix — Circle 112
Comcast — Circle 113
Data Plus — Circle 117
Datavision Technologies — Circle 118
Galaxy Hotel Systems — Circle 132
Gatesix — Circle 133
GuestDirect — Circle 139
Guestroom Solutions — Circle 140
Hotel Information Systems — Circle 145
iBAHN — Circle 146
IDT Group — Circle 148
InfoGenesis — Circle 149
INNCOM International — Circle 150
IQWare — Circle 155
KABA Lodging Systems — Circle 156
Micros Systems — Circle 164
Multi-Systems Inc. — Circle 170
NEC Unified Solutions — Circle 171
Newmarket International — Circle 172
Northwind-Maestro — Circle 173
Onity — Circle 177
Panasonic Hospitality — Circle 222
PAR Springer-Miller — Circle 178
RedSky IT — Circle 185
RoomLinX — Circle 188
SoftBrands — Circle 198
StayOnline — Circle 200
US LEC — Circle 215

CENTRAL RESERVATION SYSTEMS GDS connectivity Guest history (individual) Timeshare-condo management Automatic rate/room availability Activities scheduling (tee times, tennis) Destination marketing for CVBs Web-based travel portal Multi-GDS display Corporate/travel agent account tracking Private-label voice services Group/housing reservations Guest history (corporate) Channel management capabilities Corporate room contribution Revenue management or interfaces to RM Web/browser-enabled IDS connectivity Dynamic packaging capabilities Sales & catering interface Web booking engine Other
AltiusPAR — Circle 96
Amadeus Hospitality Business — Circle 97
AutoClerk — Circle 102
Booking Center — Circle 107
Cendyn — Circle 111
CondotelWare — Circle 115
Extenway Solutions — Circle 128
Four Winds Interactive — Circle 130
Gatesix — Circle 133
GenaRes Worldwide — Circle 135
Hotel Information Systems — Circle 145
ICSS — Circle 237
IQWare — Circle 155
Lodging Interactive — Circle 158
Micros Systems — Circle 164
Northwind-Maestro — Circle 173
PAR Springer-Miller Systems — Circle 178
Passkey — Circle 236
Pegasus Solutions — Circle 179
RedSky IT — Circle 185
Secure-Res — Circle 192
SynXis — Circle 202
Topaz Hotel Services — Circle 211
TravelCLICK — Circle 212

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