Tech Hotels: Destination Future

Tablet Co-Founder Laurent Vernhes Picks His Top Tech-Savvy Hospitality Innovations

Illustrator Masha Rumyantseva’s futurist-inspired collages give a surrealist spin to nomadic hotel aficionado Laurent Vernhes’s guide to the gadgets and technology changing our travel experiences. Having lived in seven countries and visited over 90, Vernhes co-founded Tablet Hotels, a tech-orientated, chic online platform to help uncompromising travellers find the perfect lodgings. “I can’t be the only one who finds it increasingly difficult to figure out how to turn on the television in a hotel room,” says Vernhes. “But some hotels are embracing technology in meaningful ways.” Here the design hotel guru offers his top tech features and where to find them.

Energy and Environmental Design ratings
It’s a lot more than just re-using towels or switching off extra lights—a good Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification requires cutting-edge technology. Hotels are embracing it all over the world. What this means to guests varies from hotel to hotel, and the effect is subtle. URBN Shanghai, for example, uses reclaimed rainwater in its heating and cooling system, and the hotel was largely built from reclaimed or salvaged materials. None of this is as tangible as an in-room iPad, but it’s visible if you know where to look. And it’s a good feeling knowing that a hotel stay no longer has to be an inherently wasteful experience. 

Toilet technology
The golden age of Japanese gadgetry might have been eclipsed by the rise of Apple, but there’s no competition when it comes to the Toto washlet. They come with countless options––some even play music. They are everywhere in Japan. Once you try it, you’ll never go back. I have one at home. Check out the Hotel Okura or Claska in Tokyo for a memorable experience.

Hotel applications 
Altapura, a ski hotel in the French Alps, uses technology to establish a social atmosphere. Guests chat with each other on the in-room Mac Minis, and they can share photos of their various exploits with everyone in the hotel, either one-to-one or on the monitors in the public areas. And Berns Hotel in Stockholm has embraced the mobile internet in a big way. You can use their iPhone app to make restaurant reservations, place a room service order, check the nightlife calendar, or book a room for your next stay.

Mobile internet
By now wi-fi in rooms and public spaces is standard pretty much everywhere. The Park Hyatt Tokyo will let a guest connect from anywhere in the country at the same price with an E-Mobile portable wi-fi service. Yet another way that Japan, technologically speaking, is years ahead of the rest of us.

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