Geek Retreats: Hotel Techno-Concierges


While high-end hotel butlers aren’t losing any sleep and Clefs d”Or concierges have nothing to fear, several European hotels are harnessing technology to better serve both business and leisure guests and free their staff for more complex personal services. In Rome, Paris and Manchester - to name a few - hotels are providing guests with high-tech gadgets and in-room technology that can multi-task to a fare thee well. These techno-concierges seem able to do just about everything for you except serve tea and draw a bath.

At Rome’s five-star Cavalieri Hilton, guests receive a “city navigator” combining MP3 player and digital camera functions. With two pre loaded audio tours, guests can navigate Rome’s streets and famous sites, snapping pictures along the way, which the hotel’s human concierge can then download onto a disk.

In Paris, the Hilton Arc de Triomphe rents a TAO city PDA in English or French for 10 euros. Featuring a touch screen map fitted with a GPS system, it guides guests through Parisian streets to hundreds of historic sites and artwork masterpieces in the city’s museums. Guests can also map restaurants, bars and shops, minimizing guesswork and maximizing enjoyment every step of the way.

At England’s new City Inn Manchester, guestrooms boast iMacs with high speed internet that also function as TV, radio, DVD and CD player. Customers can load files and save them to a memory stick. After shutting off the computer, Deep Freeze software deletes the new information and assures personal security. In addition to 38 television channels, 23 radio stations and a DVD/CD player, the system plays music via an MP3 player and gives guests access to iTunes, iChat, iPhoto and iMovie. If that isn’t enough stimulation, a built-in iSight video camera allows video conferencing for business travelers - all at no extra charge.

Source: Spring O’Brien

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Ellen Barone has been creating words and images for travel and tourism since 1998. She co-founded and publishes the group travel blog YourLifeIsATrip.com and is currently at work on her first book "I Could Live Here".