As travelers try to get plugged in, more and more hotels are there to help. Whether it's a cell phone handed to a guest at check-in or a suite decked out with the latest technology, today's hotels are catering to the connected traveler.
- Cell Phones Make The Mark
It isn't uncommon for guests to rent a cellular phone when they arrive at a hotel. But check into The Mark hotel in Manhattan, and along with your room key, you're offered a cellular phone. Book a suite, and you can have all your incoming calls sent directly to your room--and if requested, bounced to your cell phone. While the service costs $1.75 a minute, regardless of whether the call is being made or received, the amenity is finding lots of fans among international business travelers who aren't able to use their cell phones in the United States.
- Sonesta's High-Tech Rooms
If you want a truly wired room, Boston's Royal Sonesta Hotel is a good place to go. Last month the property finished a $7 million renovation that included new wiring for dataport phones that let guests access the phone while online. The rooms also feature an Internet connection that's about nine times faster than a conventional modem connection over a standard phone line. Since you'll be spending more time in front of your computer, the Sonesta threw in new ergonomically designed pedestal tables and three additional lighting options in the high-tech rooms.
- Claremont's Smart Terminals
In the hills above Oakland, California, the Claremont Resort and Spa delivers high-speed Internet access to guests--with a twist. A favorite with the Silicon Valley crowd, the hotel supplies travelers who stay in its high-tech North Wing with a terminal connected to an in-hotel file server, so there's no need to drag a laptop with you on your trip. Guests receive a personal fax number and e-mail account when they register so they can receive private faxes and e-mail messages in their rooms. The superconnected rooms include a large desk, two phone connections, as well as a television, CD player and VCR.
- Turn-Of-The-Century Room
Perhaps the most wired of all hotel rooms is being tested at the Century Plaza Hotel and Tower in Los Angeles (above). A lot of the bells and whistles in this one-of-a-kind room are so futuristic, in fact, you probably won't find them at any other properties for years to come. For example, the prototype Cyber Suite comes with a proximity identification entry system, a gadget that "reads" your identity by scanning a card given to you by the hotel that you carry with you. If it recognizes you, a pleasant voice welcomes you into the suite with a personalized greeting. Staying connected is easy: The Cyber Suite offers the very
latest in desktop broadcasting technology, including a high-speed Internet connection and videoconferencing facilities. Also in the room is a personal computer loaded with software so you can get that last-minute proposal done.
Christopher Elliott is an Orlando, Fla., writer and independent producer who specializes in technology, travel and mobile computing. His work has appeared in numerous newspapers, magazines and online. You can find out more about him on his website or sign up for his free weekly newsletter.