When I use a swimming pool, I'm always very conscious of the safety equipment and lifeguards, and also of the other pool users and what they're doing. I have an especial eye for the quiet ones and any places out of common / easy view. Am I odd in this approach when I'm just out for a bit of exercise and a quick swim? No - I was trained as a lifeguard many years ago and the training has stuck.
Attitude to what's around varies person by person - some is nature and some nurture, and the nurture varies over time. I write this seated in a hotel room, where a year ago I would only have been semi-aware of many of the facilities - choosing to ignore hairdryers, trouser presses and hotel stationery and only noting the phone as a useful plug-in for my laptop, perhaps, and the spare pile of towels and something that - well - some people use a lot of towels, so I suppose they're right to provide them.
With the Well House Manor project so well under way, I'm now being more observant; a look at each and every aspect of the room and a thought of "do we / should we" - either emulate, note as interesting but not for us, or actively avoid.
One of the things that especially interested us about the Bentley Kempinski hotel in London was / is its use of a modern, electronic phone / lighting / heating / access control unit in each room. It seems very attractive from a guest viewpoint to be able to control everything from the one unit, and from a hotel operator's viewpoint to know when a light bulb is out without having to do a daily check when a room is let.
Alas, the system doesn't *quite* match up to our user expectations. The screen is dim and requires us to select an icon to brighten it up - difficult on the bright afternoon we arrived. The unit does provide a clock, but you can't see that in the night without switching the thing on. Icons leave you guessing as to exactly what they mean and whilst you CAN get to the thermostat menu, you're quite likely to go past the current time in Tokyo and the outside temperature and the hotel's listing of their restaurants on the way. And the stunning give-away? Beside the unit, which includes a telephone, is another telephone ...
We're looking to use leading edge technology. But we must not make in bleeding edge where something is so new and way-out that we come acropper with it. Even without my carrying on to review the installation and other issues, the Inncom system as used here is ruled out simply on guest experience grounds.
(written 2006-02-21, updated 2006-06-09)
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