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At SLS Hotel South Beach, a fun app allows guests to mix drinks and order room service.

By Mark Chesnut

Technology is sweeping into the hotel like never before, with amenities like wireless check-in, in-room Web apps and other gadgets and gizmos designed to make hotels more efficient and guests more comfortable. Here are a few cool ways that your hotel stay is evolving:

Fun Apps & Entertainment: Hoteliers are getting more creative about developing apps that people actually want to use. At SLS Hotel South Beach, which opened in 2012, a new lifestyle application offers a variety of online content, including customized itineraries (dubbed “Perfect Day in South Beach”), and “Bring Me Bubbles,” which allows guests to rush order Champagne. With the “Shake a Drink” feature, guests tap a button to concoct their own cocktail. In-room iPads, meanwhile, connect guests with the hotel concierge, for help with making dinner reservations, ordering room service and finding local travel information.

Tech-fancying literary types heading to the Big Apple may want to consider checking into Trump Soho New York, which recently announced a partnership with Random House. Starting this month, the hotel is lending Kindles to guests, pre-loaded with books from the famed publishing company. In San Francisco, Hotel Abri offers its own Tech Menu, with a variety of toys and tools to borrow for free—including phone chargers, ear buds, mini speakers, laptop chargers and flash drives (you can also purchase them to take home). A new iPad wall is lined with five devices that offer local travel information, reservations and trip-planning tools.

Fewer Germs: Most travelers have heard horror stories about dirty hotel rooms. The fact that fewer people use hotel phones has eliminated much contact with what was once considered one of the most germ-ridden devices in the guest room. A company called LodgeNet, which provides entertainment services to hoteliers, aims to make it easier for guests to avoid another germ center: the TV remote control. The LodgeNet Mobile App, available free at the Android Marketplace and Apple App Store, turns most smart phones—as well as iPads—into a remote control, when staying at any of the 500,000 hotel rooms in the United States that use the LodgeNet service.

Futuristic Payment: Travel is moving closer to what we’ve seen in science fiction movies.  In Spain, the adults-only Ushuaia Ibiza Beach Hotel recently introduced PayTouch, a new cash-free system that allows customers to pay for all their purchases with just a touch of their fingers. To sign up, guests head to any one of the six PayTouch registration points throughout the resort to upload their fingerprints and credit card information. Then, they pass their fingers on a scanner when making purchases at the resort as well as local bars, restaurants and shops.

Mark Chesnut is a travel writer, editor and publisher of LatinFlyer.com, which focuses on travel to Latin America. He won’t go anywhere without his iPhone. 

Tagged: Florida, Hotels

Mark Chesnut
Mark Chesnut is a travel writer, editor and publisher of LatinFlyer.com, which focuses on travel to Latin America. He’s been a travel addict since he was a kid, and a travel writer since 1994.

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