Accommodations across the country get smarter
By Robin Cherry
The average traveler these days is ultra tech-savvy, creating a demand for equally “smart” accommodations. Some hotels are answering the call more quickly than others, offering everything the tech set needs to stay connected, comfortable and entertained. A select few are outpacing the rest, featuring the newest must-have hotel amenity: a charging station for your car—so you can recharge your Volt’s battery at the same time that you wind down and recharge your own.
You’ll know you’ve come to the right place when you drive up to Aria in Las Vegas’ City Center and are ushered to a preferred parking space reserved for guests arriving in alternative-fueled vehicles. Crystals Shoppes, a high-end mall that’s also part of the City Center, features one of the first publicly available electric car charging stations on The Strip, and it’s open 24 hours a day, at no extra cost. The Aria also provides RFID (radio frequency identification) keys that unlock your hotel room door when flashed over a sensor. Once inside, the system recognizes your first time in the room and “greets” you by lighting the room and parting the curtains to showcase the cityscape or mountain view. It even turns on the TV to display the hotel’s exclusive Control4 One Touch so you can set your preferred lighting, temperature and music, as well as gain easy access to guest services. Once you’re ready to turn in, there’s a “good night” button next to the bed that turns off the lights and TV, closes the drapes and activates the room’s Do Not Disturb sign. In the morning, the “wake-up” button reverses the action, gradually turning up the lights, music and temperature, then opening the drapes—a wake-up experience that’s both high-tech and highly soothing.
At Hotel Palomar in Dallas, BLINK: The Electric Vehicle Owners’ Package is available to any EV-driving guest and includes: use of the charging station at no additional cost and overnight valet parking for your electric vehicle, as well as a 25% off best available room rate, a $30 dining credit and a $25 spa credit. Hotel amenities include an iHome docking station, a 32-inch flat-screen plasma TV with a CD/DVD player and a Nintendo console so you can work out in the privacy of your room (if you prefer that to the hotel’s fitness center). Special spa rooms come with luxurious jetted soaking tubs to banish stress and tension.
Volt owners heading to Broadway will want to check into Element in New York City, which has an on-site charging station smack in the center of Times Square. (It costs $40 to park in the lot and $15-$17 to charge your car.) Rooms feature ambient lighting made possible with energy-efficient light bulbs; bathrooms include specially designed, cutting-edge low-flow rain showers that minimize water waste. All rooms have state-of-the-art kitchens and guests are supplied with a Nintendo DS console loaded with cooking software. After selecting recipes based on cooking requirements such as calorie count, cooking time or skill level, gourmand travelers can view ingredients, watch how-to videos and even set an on-screen timer. Users can choose from more than 245 recipes from a variety of regions around the world. This is the latest in a series of initiatives being launched by Element Hotels to cater to eco-, health- and tech-conscious travelers looking to maintain a well-balanced lifestyle, even on the road.
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Robin Cherry is a travel, food and pop culture writer whose work has appeared in The Atlantic, Afar, Islands and many other publications. She blogs at garlicescapes.com and is writing a book on the history of garlic that will be published in 2014. Follow her on Twitter @garlicescapes.