High-Tech Hotel Page 3

Many hotels throw you a handful of cable channels and a limited selection of movies. Here, there were plenty of film choices, and decent ones, too. Flicks are organized into Action, Children, Comedy, Drama, and Adult categories, with about eight to ten selections in each genre at a cost of $10.95 per film. In Drama, my choices included Angel Eyes, Before Night Falls, Cast Away, and Men of Honor. But since I wasn't in the mood for a movie, I decided to check out the other options. Hmmm. A Broadway show while in bed? Sunday in the Park with George and Victor/Victoria were available. But since I really felt like a little music, I opted for one of the recorded concerts at $6.95 each. Steely Dan, Santana, and Britney Spears were offered (the system's entertainment choices are updated once a month).

The hotel can offer so many choices, managing director Elon Kenchington told me, because everything is stored digitally on the massive off-site server. So any number of viewers can watch any film at any time, unlike many hotel systems where you can only watch one of the movies in their limited selection at a specific time.

Intrigue also gives you TiVo and ReplayTV-like control over your viewing material so you can pause, back up, fast forward, or stop a film. For instance, while I was watching Steely Dan, I paused for a few minutes to take a phone call and then stopped it for 30 minutes to take a shower. (You have 6 hours from when you start your movie or concert to finish watching it.)

The system also serves as a shopping portal. Kenchington says the hotel plans to upgrade it so you'll be able to purchase any items in the room that you like. You order directly from the manufacturers, but the charges go on your hotel bill and the items are shipped to your home. Other shopping experiences will be added as well, from online catalogs to access to area stores.

While high technology is certainly a calling card of the Bryant Park, the hotel has a very human sense of humor, too. For instance, as I packed to leave, I noticed the great-looking pen sitting on the nightstand and thought, "Why not take it as a keepsake?" Then I read the side of it and laughed out loud: "Formerly the property of the Bryant Park."

So the next time you're tempted to settle for a few cable-TV channels and voicemail as the most modern amenities a hotel has to offer, think again. More and more hotels are going high-tech, so there's never been a better time to spend a night away from home.