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Ultra-tech hotels compete in guest gizmos

AS high-end hotels compete for business, high-tech increasingly is part of the strategy and they seem to be outdoing each other in a rush for the latest gizmos and ultra-trech luxuries. Michelle Zhang reports.

Frequent business traveler Yvonne Lim was amazed by the TV embedded in the bathroom mirror during her recent stay at Beijing's newest China World Summit Wing Hotel, which is located on the top floors of the capital city's latest landmark, the China World Trade Center Tower 3.

"I was curious about the TV remote control I found on the bathroom sink," she recalls. "So I just randomly pressed the power button, and the TV was immediately on, right in front of me in the center of the mirror."

The high-tech feature is the Los Angeles resident's "most impressive finding" during her two-night stay in Beijing. She says she'd consider going back to the hotel because of the magic bathroom TV.

Similar high-tech features can also be found in luxury hotels around Shanghai, especially newly opened properties. While the hospitality industry is getting increasingly competitive, hotel management is working hard to gain the advantage over competitors by offering something innovative and different.

Gone are the days of spotty broadband Internet access and telephones designed only to make phone calls. Today's high-tech hotel rooms are equipped with everything from mirror TV to in-room motion sensors.

All the 285 rooms and suites at the new Ritz-Carlton Shanghai Pudong hotel are equipped with infrared body sensors. Whenever guests are not in the room or suite, the air-conditioning and lighting mode will automatically revert to energy-saving mode.

All the rooms and suites at the hotel also feature state-of-the-art in-room technology, including a 42-inch LCD flat panel TV, a Blu-ray DVD player and the iPod docking station.

MICE guests attending functions or banquets at the hotel can also rent iPad and advanced teleconference equipment from the hotel's Business Center.

Built in 1929, the historic Fairmont Peace Hotel along the Bund is one of the most tech-friendly hotels in the city after its three-year meticulous restoration project.

"Our challenge was to introduce high-tech amenities and luxuries for the modern-day traveler while celebrating the spirit of the century-old hotel," says Kamal Naamani, general manager of Fairmont Peace Hotel.

Alongside the Art Deco-style vintage furnishings, guests are able to find hotel rooms with high-tech facilities such as the in-room temperature and lighting energy-monitoring and control system; the Guestlink system, which is a media port connection to TV for laptop, iPad, iPod and digital cameras, plasma TV, Blu-ray DVD player and cordless phones. A bath-side LCD screen and rainforest shower are also available in the marble clad bathrooms.

All Fairmont Gold rooms and suites are equipped with Bose wave stereo music system.

"Today's affluent business and leisure travelers demand total comfort and instant connectivity to their businesses, offices or entertainment sources from the privacy of their rooms in an easy to access and use format," Naamani says.

"We are simply providing what matters the most to our guests by removing all the frustrations and annoyances that are sometimes associated with over complicating the services," he says.

The InterContinental Shanghai Expo hotel in Pudong provides guests with the advanced IP phone, which allows guests to make conference calls, as well as check time-zone differences, airport information and the bill consumption in the hotel.

Each room is also equipped with Bose wave music system with iPod docking station, a 42-inch LCD TV and DVD/CD woofer and speaker. Its deep soak bathtub features a built-in 17-inch LCD TV on the wall.

Besides all the in-room facilities, the hotel concierge also prepares the latest iPad 2 to serve guests' needs.

"These high-technology features in the room certainly make the guests' stay more enjoyable and convenient," says Larry Lu, executive assistant manager at the InterContinental Shanghai Expo. "Most of our hotel guests are businessman, they work efficiently and they can easily find what they need in the room without having to go to business center or heading out for resources."

High-tech hotels allow guests to do everything from communicate with the concierge to find information from the iPad, dim the lights for a more relaxing mood without having to get out of bed, and enjoy the pleasure of watching TV while brushing one's teeth.

Whether you are into the latest tech craze or just want to play with something pricey during your hotel stay, these hotel rooms will take you to the new level.


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