Six star control for a six star hotel
The face of hospitality is changing as new technology makes integration easier. It used to be that hotels and other hospitality facilities around the world limited technology and integration to their entertainment and conference areas and I was rare to find these facilities in any but the very best suites.
But times have changed. Now it is possible to centrally monitor, manage and control almost every aspect of building. Whether it is a guest room, ballroom, spa or common area, all aspects – from architectural and interior lighting to thermostats, security, digital signage and distributed audio and video – can be managed from a single location.
Voted the world’s leading boutique hotel since 2001, the Saxon Boutique Hotel, Villas and Spar in Sandhurst, Johannesburg, was already renowned for its state-of-the art conference facilities and when it recently underwent extension and refurbishment, it sought the same level of integration and control throughout all common areas and private suites – including full integration of all in-room entertainment, lighting and air-conditioning systems.
The refurbished hotel contains the Nelson Mandela Platinum Suite, three Presidential Suites, and 20 “Egoli” suites and two offering seven “Egoli” Suites, four Presidential Suites and a spa treatment room each.
The Saxon contacted CKR Consulting engineers in April 2009 with the brief for full integration supplied by one service provider. The project had initially gone to tender, but was incomplete in terms of equipment required. CKR evaluated the tender and specified that all equipment – automation, CCTV, fire detection, IT, and AV – should be controlled by one system and The Saxon wanted a one-remote-per room solution and a unique ‘look and feel’.
Suppliers were invited to submit demonstration products and Electrosonic SA was asked to demonstrate Crestron’s capabilities. Crestron, as a member of the global industry association Hotel Technology Next Generation (HTNG), understands – and meets – the challenges the hospitality industry faces. Their control solutions seamlessly integrate with property management systems to monitor and control all room technology, while enabling staff to provide the highest level of personalised service to guest.
In selecting Crestron, the deciding factors for CKR were the company’s clear understanding of hospitality industry requirements, the design and flexibility of the Crestron system, and the versatility of their keypads.
A full mock-up
The next step was for Electrosonic to set up a fully functional mock-up room. It was a comprehensive fit-out including not only the relevant control and AV systems, but also everything contained in a hotel room from carpeting to furniture and fittings. The purpose of the mock-up was to enable the Managing Director of the Saxon, George Cohen, and his project team to put the system through its paces.
A further requirement of CKR and The Saxon was for the supplier to take full responsibility for the performance of the system. This meant that Electrosonic had to be involved in the planning, design and management of the system from start to finish, attending weekly project meetings with other suppliers to rack progress and ensure that the hotel was up and running in time for the launch of the 2010 FIFIA World Cup.
CKR selected Panavision as the installer and integrator of the project. “Panavision did great work and gave total commitment to the project”, commented CKR’s Logan Naidoo. Panavision worked closely with the suppliers to ensure that all the products were integrated with the Crestron system. The other suppliers were Wild & Marr who supplied the audio equipment, Bang and Olufsen who supplied the hotel TV equipment, Dimension Data who supplied the VDA video-on-demand systems, and Alpine Communications who supplied the IT network infrastructure.
“The integration of all the products was easy because Crestron had all the required modules for the products that needed to be integrated,” said Claude Jardim of Panavision. “The biggest challenge was the tight deadlines. Teamwork was very important, and the correct information had to come from the right people to supply the appropriate equipment,” said Claude.
“As the integrator, Panavision had to be in contact with the various suppliers and we had to make sure that all the equipment worked correctly and to the client’s specifications.” Pre-wiring commenced in November 2009 and approximately 15kms of Cresnet, control and Ethernet cable was installed.
Panavision had four teams working fulltime on the project. Each team consisted of an AV manager, technical staff and programmers. The deadline for completion of the suites was the end of April 2010, followed by the communal areas at the end of May, and the Villas before kick-off at the beginning of June.” The work schedule meant that typically nine suites – including all furniture, interior and AV equipment – had to be finalised in a two week period.
May 2010 was the most intense month and a lot of overtime was involved, allowing the project to be completed on time and within the approved budget, “said Claude. “No task was too big or too small and they were on call 24/7. All the teams gave 110% to the project resulting in all deadlines being met despite additional requests made by the client” said Claude Jardim.
When guests arrive at their suite they find the lighting, air-conditioning, TV and music pre-set to function appropriately for the time of day, temperature and mood, with automatic background music playing and the TV serving as a welcome screen.
The room pre-sets are controlled via Crestron RoomView which communicates with all Crestron processors for central monitoring and control. A Major part of the project was the lighting. Electrosonic pre-designed, pre-manufactured and pre-tested all lighting distribution boards, which made for an easier installation. All rooms and common area DBs typically consist of central DIN-rail control processor, light dimming and relay switching products all linked up to the Saxon’s IP network. Electrosonic designed the system around Crestron’s DIN rail mount product range because of its outstanding ease of installation, use and maintenance, as well as its cost-effectiveness.
The Egoli Suites
Tastefully African in style, the luxuriously furnished Egoli Suites have their own lounge and dining area and are equipped with the latest technology in air-conditioning, automation and state-of-the-art entertainment centre which includes a high-definition LCD television, Blu-Ray DVD Player, sound system, full digital satellite bouquet, digital movie library, and iPod docking station.
On both sides of the king size bed is a Crestron TPMC3X handheld touch panel to control the sound, TV, temperature in the room. Each suite has its own Crestron DINAP2 processor to ensure full control over all equipment.
The Villas offer an informal, more personalised atmosphere, and are set in indigenous gardens adjacent to the main hotel and provide complete privacy.
Each Villa has a communal area that consists of a dining room – which may be easily converted into a boardroom – kitchen with butler service, a communal lounge with bar and a heated plunge pool. Each Villa also has a lift which links it to the basement parking. The Villa Suites are all equipped in the same way as the Egoli Suites but also include a laptop in each suite, and the Presidential Suites additionally provide a multi-function printer-fax-scanner-copier.
The communal area in each Villa has a Crestron TPS6X wireless touch panel for control of lighting, video and background music. The central control processor in each Villa is a Crestron 2-series DINAP2. The Villa Manager can set the lighting scenes, video and background music via the TPS6X touch panel.
The Platinum and Presidential Suites
The Presidential suites are large and spacious and each suite having its own entrance hall, guest bathroom, lounge, dining area, a fully equipped butler’s kitchen and private balcony.
These suites have an HD LCD TV in the lounge with full surround sound, Crestron iPod docking station and a TPMC3X handheld remote touch panel. The bedroom is equipped similarly to the Egoli Suites. The two-bedroom Nelson Mandela Platinum Suite on the first floor of the hotel is accessed via a private entrance, has similar equipment to hat found in the Presidential suites, but it also offers a Jacuzzi and steam room. This signature suite is designed and furnished to exceed the expectations of dignitaries and celebrities.
The Saxon’s managers and butlers have all received training in how to use the Crestron system, and in turn show guests how the system works.
Crestron control covers all the common areas, including two boardrooms, a dining library, Oprah lounge, Cigar lounge, a 30 seater auditorium/cinema, conference bar, main reception/lobby, restaurant and the Chef’s table in the heart of the hotel’s kitchen.
Control of the common areas is via keypads that are situated in easily accessible areas. At the heart of the system are two Crestron 2-series DINAP2 processors, located in the main server room. These link all he numerous keypads, thermostats, gateways and access points and ensure rock solid performance of the system. Various RF gateways were installed to ensure proper coverage for the Crestron TPS6X touch panels for easy control over lighting, temperature, background music and video by the duty managers.
The Business Centre and General Manager’s Office are also controlled by Crestron The Saxon is a true IP environment, with all the business communications tools required. Fully equipped workstations, multifunction telephones, faxes and wireless internet access facilitate uninterrupted global business communications for guests. Telephony is also state-of-the-art, and includes wireless phones with extended reception capability, enhanced cellular area reception and optional automatic en-suite landline-to-mobile forwarding option.
“Guests who had stayed in the hotel suites previously are now booking into the Villa suites, where they have total privacy, like being at home, and with technology that works and meets all expectations. “Concludes Cohen.