If you're prone to downloading the entire seasons of Breaking Bad onto your iPad before a trip, this will be welcome news: Aloft, Starwood's intrepidly tech-savvy brand, is testing the in-room entertainment system of tomorrow, with Apple TV as its anchor.
In every Aloft room, you'll find a Jack Pack, which plugs into your laptop or mobile devices and projects the content onto your in-room HDTV. Now with AppleTV, guests can use their TV in a huge variety of ways: As a stereo system for music, a medium for editing photos, or perhaps most useful, a big screen for streaming Netflix or iTunes movies.
Of course, there are some security concerns, but Aloft has been addressing them swiftly. Data is wiped clean between guests using the same software that resets public computers in airports and libraries around the world. And while Bluetooth connectivity at first meant that the iPhone in room 501 could connect to the TV in room 502, access codes have been introduced to ensure that each device's content stays only with its owner. And as security gets tighter, cloud access will be introduced.
Says Brian McGuinness, Senior Vice President of Starwood's Specialty Select Brands, "A system that allows you to put your own content on the TV—be it AppleTV or otherwise—will eventually be the industry standard." And though the pilot is currently limited to Aloft's new Cupertino property (not-so-coincidentally located next door to Apple's HQ), the hope is to roll out new system in a big way, starting with the Aloft brand and then extending Starwood-wide. Expect to see it at Aloft's newest properties first, starting as soon as May.
Nikki Ekstein is an Editorial Assistant at Travel + Leisure and part of the Trip Doctor news team. Find her at on Twitter at @nikkiekstein.