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Howard Stutz

Resorts' gadgets to suit guests

16 September 2008

LAS VEGAS, Nevada -- There was a time when a high-tech hotel room consisted of dial-up Internet access and free movies.

At the $9.2 billion CityCenter, the bar is being set a bit higher.

MGM Mirage said three of the hotels at CityCenter will have an in-room technology system where guests can customize their room environment for their own personal tastes. The room recognizes the hotel guest when the person enters or leaves and automatically adjusts the settings.

Think "The Jetsons" without Rosie the Robot.

Scot Campbell, MGM Mirage's chief information officer, said the technology is unique to CityCenter. No other hotel in the country is permitted to use the technology until it debuts at CityCenter when the development opens at the end of 2009.

"People are using more automation in their homes, and the idea was to bring that same type of automation into hotel rooms," Campbell said. "We tried to conceptualize the next evolution of the hotel room."

The system will be featured at Aria, the 61-story, 4,000-room hotel-casino centerpiece of CityCenter. The 400 hotel rooms at the Mandarin Oriental and the 400 hotel rooms at the Harmon Hotel will also use the technology. Both high-rises have condominium components that will not include the system. The all-residence Veer Towers and the Vdara condo-hotel are also not included.

The system, developed by the Control4 Corp. of Salt Lake City, allows guests to save their settings for lights, television, music, room temperature and draperies from an easy-to-use remote. The room also recognizes the guest when he or she enters or leaves.

The technology includes keyless door systems and a 42-inch high-definition flat-screen television that allows guests to attach laptop computers and plug-in devices for MP3 players. The television also serves as a communications center that automatically displays messages, such as voice mails and other information.

Despite all the features, Campbell said the system is easy to use.

"That was one of the keys for our upper management," Campbell said. "It's as easy for me as it is for my 78-year-old father who doesn't use technology and bought a cell phone for the first time. Everything is right in front of you on the TV screen with very simple guide."

The television also serves as the clock radio, with the alarm feature no longer needed. Guests can wake gradually through controlled temperature, lighting, curtain openings and preferred music.

"I put the system in my house at my own expense and that's now how I wake up," Campbell said. "I was sort of the beta test for the system."

Each hotel room will be networked with 1 gigabit of bandwidth for wireless Internet capabilities. Campbell said the wireless connection will be eight times faster than the average hotel guest room in the United States, allowing guests to download music or free Internet content.

In addition to the hotels, CityCenter includes 2,600 high-rise condominiums and Crystals, a 500,000-square-foot retail, dining and entertainment district and a $40 million public art program.