The 84-year-old grande dame just unveiled the next-generation rooms of its modern tower, part of a $58 million, 15-month renovation. (The original building will reopen in April 2013.) T+L got an advance look at the 21st-century makeover, complete with cutting-edge technology hatched in the hotel’s own R&D lab and a sleek new design that maximizes space and functionality. $$$$
• Guests can make free international calls on the wireless phones with VoIP (voice over Internet protocol).
• Ten multi-language touch-screen panels placed around the room control the lights, curtains, thermostat, television, and Internet radio (all 3,000 stations).
Some 1,400 people from 30 countries are packed in this year to the PhoCusWright conference at the Westin Kierland in Scottsdale, Arizona. It’s three days that are themselves packed full of information on the travel technology industry. Day 1 is the Travel Innovation Summit, while Day 2 brings in CEOs and other industry big shots.
One of the highlights is always the interview with Dara Khosrowshahi, President and CEO of Expedia. His company’s back to double-digit growth this year, and they’ve been busy. They revamped their hotel search experience, and are about to do the same with flights and package tours. A feature we love about Expedia is its user hotel reviews; in order to write a review, someone has to have booked that hotel through Expedia and actually stayed there.
We love Day 1 of the annual PhoCusWright conference—the Travel Innovation Summit. A full 30 companies present; some are startups, some are existing companies introducing new products; four judges then give feedback (which ranges from encouraging to blistering). The day offers a snapshot of where we are in the evolution of travel technology.
When it comes to reliable, easy-to-use tech amenities, hotels have lagged confoundingly behind what most travelers have at home or on their smart phones or tablets. Even at many so-called state-of-the-art properties guests wrestle with inscrutable room controls, ornery A/V setups, and awkward communications systems. Thankfully, some hotels are now stepping up their tech game—for real.
What’s Here Now
These days, any property worth its room rate offers free Wi-Fi. But too often it’s exceedingly sloooow. Solution: many hotels (including the Radisson in San Diego and the Mandarin Oriental, Tokyo) are rolling out 100 Mbps Internet service, which is fast enough to download an album in three seconds.
Growing up I was always fascinated by science fiction movies and television, particularly because they showed off the possibility of technology to come. Though many ideas seemed like pipe dreams, there was always that What if? factor that I latched on to.
So you can imagine my excitement when I read about Google’s development of autonomous cars. (Robot cars!) To further that excitement, I just learned that California’s governor, Jerry Brown, has signed a bill that will allow these autonomous cars to drive along the state’s roads, right alongside vehicles driven by humans. (!!)
Full of southern charm, cutting edge art, and a fast-rising culinary scene, there are treasures abound to be discovered in Charleston, South Carolina’s second largest city. Whether you’re looking to peruse the myriad antique shops, tour the seemingly endless historic sites, or stroll through its many plantations and gardens, there’s something for everyone. But if you’re having a hard time figuring out where to begin, we’re here to help you. We’ve enlisted a team of experts to dish out some fab travel advice so you can start planning your next trip to Chuck Town. The tweet-up, presented by Charleston Area Convention & Visitors Bureau, will take place Thursday, October 4, from 2–3 p.m. ET.
1. Log in to Twitter any time from 2–3 p.m. ET and be sure to follow the chat hosts: @TravlandLeisure and @Charleston CVB 2. Use the hashtag #TLSponChat to follow. 3. To keep up with the chat in real time, head over to http://tweetchat.com/room/TLSponChat 4. We'll pulse out some questions for our expert panel to answer, but feel free to post your own answers to our questions! Or ask your own questions! Take advantage of this special access to this fab panel and get some expert travel advice.
We hope to "see" you there!
Joshua Pramis is the social media editor and resident tech aficionado at Travel + Leisure. Follow him on Twitter: @joshuapramis
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Music sets the mood to any atmosphere; this rings true whether you’re lounging around in your living room, commuting to work in the morning, or de-stressing while on vacation. It’s certainly true for me. And, while many hotels have been equipped with iPod/iPhone docks—which will all require replacements or the addition of an adaptor with the new line of iGadgets—not all of them do...not to mention, not everyone uses iOS devices. So sometimes the best solution is to bring your own. Here are four of my newest faves.
BRAVEN 600 The smallest of the BRAVEN SIX series, this sucker still packs a powerful punch. The battery lasts up to 12 hours; it comes with a drawstring pouch, perfect for carrying around; and can even be used to charge your smartphone up to 70%—at the cost of its own battery life, of course. It connects to your music device via Bluetooth, and is perfect for anything from listening to music at home or even to entertaining a small outdoor gathering. And best of all: it easily slips into any carry-on bag.
Watch out NOOK Simple Touch with GlowLight, you’re no longer the only e-reader with a light-up display in town. Last week, Amazon announced the upcoming release of the next stage in the Kindle series: Kindle Paperwhite.
Need some travel inspiration? (Personally, my desire to explore and experience new places and cultures is an intrinsic part of me, and I’m sure the same can be said of all of my colleagues, but a little motivation never hurt anyone.) That aside, this video that NASA recently released, taken from International Space Station, shows the world from high above, at nighttime, and is absolutely mesmerizing and beautiful. From the radiating light of bustling cities, to flashes of lightning, to the brilliant aurora borealis, it’s a reminder of just how beautiful this planet truly is. And it’s more than enough to make even the biggest homebody want to get out and explore it.
Joshua Pramis is the social media editor at Travel + Leisure and resident tech aficionado. Follow him on Twitter: @joshuapramis.
I love to travel. Obviously. I wouldn’t work here if I didn’t. And I love when I hear about advances in technology that can help make traveling easier. So you can imagine how excited I was when I saw our friends over at sister mag Executive Travel reported three new improvements that are underway that’ll help speed things up while you get to your destination, so you have more time to enjoy that beachside mojito.
The first will help you speed through the baggage check a little faster. How? By printing out your baggage tag at home, while you’re checking into your flight online. The technology was created by Unisys Corporation, and is currently being tested at Billund Airport in Denmark. When passengers show up at the airport, they simply drop their bags off at a special counter and head on over to security.