CHICAGO—As part of a yearlong comprehensive guestroom redesign, The Peninsula Chicago introduced the Hong Kong-based brand’s advanced in-room technology to the U.S. last month. The project aims to showcase The Peninsula’s evolution of luxury design and enhances each guest’s stay with ease and personalization, according to the company.
The Peninsula Hotels, which has 10 hotels in Asia, Europe and the U.S., strives to offer innovative guestroom technology as its Research and Technology Department (R&T) celebrated its 30th anniversary last year. The R&T team designs, builds and customizes equipment to serve the group’s guests as opposed to installing the standard available technology. The Hongkong and Shanghai Hotels, Limited, a hotel chain operator, operates The Peninsula Hotels.
Based in Aberdeen on Hong Kong Island’s south side, Christopher Chan, group general manager of R&T, and his team of engineers are tasked with providing user-friendly, intuitive technology for Peninsula guests. The Peninsula Hotels’ in-room technological systems are proprietary. The R&T team oversaw the installation of the new system in The Peninsula Chicago’s 331 guestrooms and suites to ensure a seamless experience for guests. Linking each guestroom in the hotel is high-tech cable stretching more than one million ft., which equates to 191 miles of the fastest connection available, according to the hotel.
“A hotel is like a dance and the control system like a corps de ballet—smooth, elegant comfortable and no jerky on/off movements—offering a smooth transition from one operation to the next to avoid stress,” said Chan. “The greatest compliment for me and my team is when guests go to other hotels and realize what they miss.”
The company aims to deliver a new bespoke in-room experience, in which guests can choose how they access the hotel’s services as technology and guests’ expectations continue to develop. R&T is tasked to not just keep up with, but stay ahead of requirements, according to The Peninsula Hotels.
Similar to The Peninsula Beijing, The Peninsula Chicago features the R&T team’s latest offerings and a personalized in-room experience. The Peninsula Chicago now features fully customized interactive digital bedside, desk and wall tablets, which are preset in 11 languages, and full control of all in-room functions, including the compendium of restaurant menus; hotel services; the “PenCities” virtual city guide; personalized streaming terrestrial TV; internet TV and radio; and curtain, valet call, weather, thermostat, language and privacy options. The brand first introduced the technology at The Peninsula Hong Kong in 2013 and Paris in 2014.
The work desks are complete with high-speed internet access, international internet radio, a weather panel and an iPod docking station, while The Peninsula’s signature en-suite marble bathrooms offer LED touchscreen panels for terrestrial and internet TV and radio, as well as weather details and privacy options. Mood lighting with a customized ambient spa setting is also available.
Audio-visual features in the guestroom include flat-screen, Blu-ray LED TVs, which offer an entertainment experience via tablet with 90 terrestrial, cable and satellite TV channels, 460 internet radio stations and complimentary HD movies. The rooms also have an iPhone/iPad docking station, memory card reader and Sound Bar virtual-surround speaker system. Similar to a home office, wireless connection to personal electronic devices and the all-in-one fax, printer, photocopier and scanner are also provided, as well as multiple device chargers.
Complimentary high-speed wired and wireless internet access means that international direct dialing calls via VOIP are free from the guestroom phone—an added benefit for foreign travelers. Additionally, free wireless access and local calls are available when traveling in the hotels’ Rolls-Royce and Mini Cooper fleet.
The Peninsula Hotels’ R&T team carried out extensive research on the effect of light on brain waves and how in-room lighting and facilities can help guests unwind. In order to help the conscious state to a relaxed level, fading the lights out helps reduce brain waves from the usual 15 Hz to a more relaxed 10 Hz, as opposed to abruptly switching the lights off in the conventional manner, according to the company.
Additionally, the R&T team found that sudden ringing of an alarm clock would jolt sleepers awake, causing involuntarily muscle tensing and momentary stress. In order to avoid this, the alarms at The Peninsula Chicago start gently and then ramp up the volume.
Since bringing The Peninsula’s signature in-room technology to Chicago, travelers have noted the enhanced developments as well as the hotel’s three new service initiatives. These include 24-hour check-in for web bookings; a Mobile Concierge service, which provides instant guest service support by text message, directly to cell phones; and Keys To The City, which encompasses 15 programs offering special access to Chicago’s destinations and experiences.
“The guest feedback we have received has been overwhelmingly positive, and we are especially proud of the innovative new technology showcased throughout,” said Maria Razumich-Zec, general manager and regional VP of The Peninsula Chicago. “These developments, combined with our Keys To The City experiences, offer visitors a truly multi-faceted way to immerse themselves in the best of Chicago.”
The Keys to the City program attempts to bring VIP experiences directly to guests of The Peninsula Chicago. These include a behind-the-scenes restaurant tour of three-Michelin star Grace Restaurant, in which guests can take a look at the wine cellar, meet the chef and enjoy a lite bite made in front of them.