TORONTO - Check in to a posh hotel these days and, along with a comfy bed and soft towels, chances are your room will feature some high-tech amenities.
Like at the Plaza hotel on Central Park in New York City, where iPads in every room and suite let guests control the "entire hotel experience, from ordering room service to printing boarding passes," the hotel says.
Or the brand-new Trump International Hotel and Tower in downtown Toronto, which offers bedside touch panels to control lighting and window coverings.
At the Ellerman Villa and Spa in Cape Town, South Africa, visitors can use touch screens to request services from the on-site massage therapist, butler or caterer.
According to a report in the online journal Digital Trends, such systems are becoming standard in luxury hotels around the world, seen as the latest "wow" amenities that can set them apart from run-of-the-mill inns.
Examples cited by the journal include the Star Hotel and Casino in Sydney Harbour, Australia, where guests use touch screens to adjust room lighting, temperature and music. The Royal Radisson in Moscow updated its rooms to make them more attractive — and to include the latest in control systems with a multilingual user interface.
Control4 of Salt Lake City, Utah, one of the companies behind the trend, says "a smart hotel is a smart idea."
On its website Control4 says its technology lets hotel staff configure room details remotely from any Internet connection. Hotels can reduce their energy bills by controlling air conditioning, heating and lighting.
Another firm, AMX of Richardson, Texas, says its touch panels include electronic menus that show pictures of restaurant offerings and let guests choose when they want meals delivered. Spa and concierge services can also be ordered from hotel rooms via the devices.
AMX says its customers have included the Conrad Hotel Miami, Four Seasons Resort & Spa in Las Colinas, Texas, Hotel Skt. Petri in Copenhagen and the Plaza in New York.