The Caribe Royale Orlando Resort is in the final stages of a comprehensive $127M renovation that includes fully remodeling all 1,215 of its one-bedroom suites, an all-new 50,000-square-foot grand ballroom (bringing the total meeting space to 220,000 square feet), and an inviting new lobby. But Amaury Piedra, Managing Director, and Chet Patel, Director of Innovation and Technology, ensured that the Caribe Royale got more than just a beautiful facelift.
“When we first began the renovation conversation about three years ago, we recognized that we would need to improve our IT infrastructure throughout the hotel. We needed stronger, faster Wi-Fi in the guest suites, in all the public areas, and especially within our corporate meeting space,” Piedra said.
To accomplish this, Patel implemented more than 1,300 Cat 6 connections in all the guestrooms and added more than 600 access points within the resort.
“We basically paved our guest rooms in Cat 6,” Patel joked. “But this was truly because we wanted to ensure we could offer Wi-Fi 6 – just released a few months ago – which provides better and more efficient connectivity.”
Patel also focused on implementing special cellular hardware specifically in the convention center to improve guest connectivity.
“Connectivity is becoming a utility like hot water,” he noted. “We want to make sure we have stable connectivity and the bandwidth required by everyone, both convention center and leisure guests.”
Since the completion of their IT infrastructure overhaul, guest internet connectivity complaints have dropped drastically, which both Patel and Piedra take as win.
A PIECE OF ADVICE
For hoteliers looking to improve upon their own IT network infrastructure, Piedra recommends that hoteliers leave it to the professionals to determine what needs to change.
“We brought on consulting resources that assisted us with doing the proper heat mapping to determine what our needs were in each area of the hotel.” Piedra recalled. “Remember, not every area has the same needs. This helped us isolate which areas had the most demand to ensure they received the proper amount of bandwidth. It may cost a little bit up front, but in the end it will save you money and ensure the project is successful.”
And while the world of hotel technology is ever-evolving, Piedra recommends that hoteliers answer one simple question before implementing anything new: Does it make sense for my guests and my property?
“It’s easy to get spread too thin by trying to implement every new technological innovation that comes along,” Piedra said. “Instead, focus on what is really going to drive customer satisfaction and profitability.”
Additionally, Patel recommends that IT professionals focus on creating redundancy within the five pillars of IT (Telecom / Dial Tone, Internet Connectivity, Cabling, Compute Stack and Network Stack).
“For example, we have two different service providers coming from two geo diverse locations for our internet so that we don’t have to worry about fiber cuts,” he explains. “Additionally, they serve out of two different co-location facilities with two different data centers. And the equipment we have on-site is connected by SD-WAN technology, so there is redundancy all the way from the equipment to the service provider level.”
One reason why this redundancy is so important is that it ensures the resort has a “concrete highway for tomorrow’s technology needs,” Patel notes. Tomorrow could bring holographic FaceTime, robots, location awareness, E-911 for housekeeping, blockchain and more. “You have to build a conduit for tomorrow’s data, today.”