The first thing I thought when I heard a fancy hotel was replacing its bedside phones with iPhones was…why? Since the entire world is now armed with at least a cell phone—even if it’s the old-timey flip phone kind—is it really necessary to provide hotel guests with a loaner? After all, when was the last time anyone actually picked up the bedside phone at a hotel unless it was to call the front desk?
But then I read past the headline. Opus hotel, located in Vancouver, is not only putting the iPhone at guests’ bedside, but guests are free to take the iPhone with them everywhere they go for the duration of their stay.
What a great opportunity…for a phone to get lost.
That was what I though. But the gesture is actually done out of consideration for the hotel’s American guests, who often find themselves stranded in Canada with Siri unable to dial home. Having a Canadian-enabled iPhone allows visitors to make calls without incurring costly international fees.
Maybe I should back up a little. Opus Hotel is the same hotel that announced in March of this year that it’s offering an iPad 2 in each room. Guests are treated with a virtual concierge, loaded onto the iPad, to help them through their stay.
Technology is a way of life these days, not just a perk, and that holds true even while traveling,” general manager Nicholas Gandossi said on the hotel’s blog. “To be clear, contrary to any speculation or rumors you may hear, we are not renaming our property Apple Hotel.”
The Opus Hotel isn’t the only hotel offering Apple electronics to guests.
New York’s Mondrian SoHo offers iPads in each room and the Hotel Bel-Air in California provides an in-room iPad to help guests order room service. However, my research found no other hotel that issues iPhones in each room. This might be something unique to an area like Canada that hosts large numbers of international tourists.
For those staying at Opus Hotel, the iPhone comes equipped with easy access buttons for calling up various hotel services. At checkout, guests’ iPhones are wiped clean, ensuring any data collected during the guests’ stay remains confidential.
Interestingly, just a couple of years ago, USA Today posed the question, “Is the hotel phone obsolete?” Just like pay phones, the need for a bedside phone in your hotel room has been negated by the modern-day cell phone. Not only do we not want to pay for each local call, we shouldn’t have to. In fact, if they charged to dial the front desk, we’d probably find the number and call it from our smartphones for free.
In the USA Today article, a hotel consultant theorized that guests would likely be happy with an in-room intercom that would dial up the front desk for various needs. All the in-room phone has to address is the ability to call for room service or contact the front desk for maintenance issues or questions. Couldn’t we just send a text for that?
Would I use an in-room iPhone?
Not in America, but if I were traveling to another country, you bet I would. I’d prefer to have the comfort of my own phone—after all, do we really want to spend a half hour of our vacation syncing up all of our e-mail accounts and entering phone numbers for people we need to call? Still…in a pinch, the Hotel Opus’s offering is a great idea. Too bad Hotel Opus’s rooms rent for more than $250 a night.
Somehow, I don’t think the Comfort Inn will have the same amenities.