|By Bob Shallit, The Sacramento Bee,
Calif.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News
February 27, 2009 --Sacramento's Citizen Hotel will soon have a new pitch for prospective guests: Stay with us, leave your laptop at home.
In what they say is a first for the U.S. lodging industry, Citizen execs are installing Apple Mac Mini computers in all 200 rooms and connecting them to large, flat-screen TVs so guests can lie in bed surfing the Net, tackling work files, checking Facebook or watching movies from Netflix.
"This will really move the needle in terms of the customer experience," says Michael Stano, VP of technology at Joie de Vivre Hospitality, the Bay Area company that operates the Citizen and nearly 40 other boutique hotels.
Stano says JDV has been looking at ways to improve in-room entertainment for several years after concluding that hotel tech offerings are "vastly inferior" to what most guests already have at home.
That research led to a French company, DirectStreams, which has installed Apple-based hotel systems in Europe and the Mideast.
The company's first U.S. project will be installed starting next week at the Citizen -- and eventually at other JDV properties.
Stano says he's unaware of any other major American hotel chain that's marrying computers and TVs in this fashion.
Citizen guests will have free access to a basic DirectStreams package -- including TV, DVD/CD players and limited Internet -- with what Stano describes as an "Apple-esque" remote control.
Customers seeking full high-speed Internet with a wireless keyboard will be charged $9.95 a day.
Reach Bob Shallit at (916) 321-1049. Back columns: www.sacbee.com/shallit
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