The ritual for a lot of international road warriors after a long transoceanic flight is to check into their hotels, turn on a hot shower and let the steam fill the air to ease the sinuses. “After a 12-hour flight you’re dried out,” says frequent traveler John B. Rowsell, the CEO of Chicago-based Glenwood Capital Investments. But there’s no need for that when he stays at the Peninsula Hotel in
Faxes arrive on his private combined fax machine, printer, copier and scanner, and a display showing the outside air temperature and wind speed enables him check the weather without looking out the window. A portable phone lets him enjoy a workout in the hotel’s gym or a meal in one of its restaurants while making and receiving calls as if he never left his room. A “mood” setting lets him adjust window shades and lighting, and an in-room Lavazza espresso machine provides coffee or tea. Rowsell can hook up an iPod, plug in a video recorder, access free highspeed Wi-Fi, watch DVDs, play CDs or tune the satellite radio to listen to his home station—some 805 of them from the U.S. and others from as far away as Romania or Bulgaria. He can crank up the audio loud enough to rattle the glasses in the mini-bar.
And then there’s the state-of-the-art heated toilet, equipped with a motion detector that lifts the lid, automatically flushes and has all sorts of bidet features that are better left unmentioned. “In terms of customization, the temperature, the lights, it’s fantastic,” Rowsell says. “It’s a step above anything I see anywhere else. I can’t say I’ve seen anything better.”
In an increasingly competitive environment for business travelers who are cutting back on travel due to the recession, that’s exactly what
A survey of other hotel brands proves him correct, with nothing comparable or so comprehensive. Four Seasons hotels, for example, also have flat screen TVs in the bathroom and drapes that open with the touch of a button— but not Peninsula’s other features. Westin Hotels is planning to introduce Nintendo Wii consoles in some of its fitness centers. Sheraton is installing public computers for guests in its lobbies. And the Gansevoort South Hotel in
Mandarin Oriental, which currently boasts of only high-speed Internet, plans to include an automated “welcome” system that opens curtains and displays guests’ names on the TV screen when they enter rooms at its newest hotel opening in