Luxury has a technology component, and it’s all about creating seamless ease. That’s not just a contemporary ideal, either. Way back in the black-and-white days of Humphrey Bogart, his powerful executive character in the movie Sabrina was all about super-chic, cleverly integrated audiovisual components hidden behind a glamorous veneer.
Cut to 2019 and the perennially glamorous Beverly Hilton Hotel in Los Angeles, landmark of those black-and-white days and still defining luxury as host of the glamorous Golden Globes each year. Almost two months after that particular occasion this year, there’s a new red carpet stretched beneath the sweeping porte cochere, and parked upon it is a modern-day representation of that boss-level, seamless technology integration.
Taking the form of a shiny, precisely restored retro Airstream camper trailer, this was a luxury hotel demo room on wheels. And it quickly became a VIP hideaway as celebrities and top brass from all the best hospitality brands assembled for the Star Rating Awards Dinner at Verified: The Forbes Travel Guide Luxury Summit.
Who built this shining beacon of how luxurious comfort is enhanced with an aesthetically integrated high-performance audio system, automated shades and dramatically designed Lutron lighting systems? Who programmed the latter to provide that uber-hip wellness trend of natural lighting (sometimes called circadian lighting, but that’s not scientifically proven, so be careful)?
Well, it turns out it was the work of a company that is a VIP itself in the Forbes Travel Guide world. This was a Mode:Green project, and if you didn’t know, that company was granted the powerful designation of “Official Technology Integrator of Forbes Travel Guide” last year — a first for the vaunted arbiter of all things luxury travel.
In a statement from Forbes Travel Guide released at the time, Forbes Travel Guide CEO Gerard J. Inzerillo commended Mode:Green, and by extension the AV industry in general, with adding to the overall experience of luxury: “Mode:Green assists hotels in seamlessly handling the details that ensure guest comfort. From intelligent lighting, music, and climate control to helping housekeeping and maintenance field requests, the company focuses on improving the guest experience."
To be the best of the best in hotel technology integration, as designated by luxury hospitality’s equivalent of the Michelin Guide, well, that’s pretty good. But if you talk to Bill Lally, President of Mode:Green, you’re not going to get fancy chef temper tantrums and attitude. You’re going to get the affable modesty shared by many AV technology integrators. He’s just a guy who likes making high-tech things work together, and if he has to do some last-minute installation work on the road out to LA before the event, so be it.
Actually, Lally admits, the 250-square-foot Airstream demo hotel room experience “is by far the most complex integration I’ve done from a standpoint of various voltages and system types.” Somehow, he fit in a 97-element Lutron Ketra system, seven motorized draperies, onboard heating and air conditioning, interior audio with tiny James loudspeakers, and oh yeah, an exterior PA setup and onboard IP cameras and a 4G connection for streaming live events. “We tried to make it a self-contained event space,” Lally explains.
It also has solar panels and a big propane generator, with a car amplifier running the system. which made for some fun voltage integration challenges. That’s the nature of the business. And the end result is all about making the experience of technology seamless to anyone who visits the Airstream or a hotel property. “The minute the guest has to work, the luxury ends,” Lally says.
For the Forbes Travel Guide event, the Mode:Green team ran demos of the Lutron natural lighting system, speeding the system through a 24-hour lighting scenario in a 30-second loop. The narrative showed a typical day, from waking up, to high-productivity mode, to the wind-down and sunset mode until nightfall.
The crowds were impressed, and the demos were packed. Fortunately, the natural lighting system has another benefit — when the interior lighting precisely matches the outdoors, “it really opens up the space and makes it seem so much bigger.” So, with the flip of a switch (well, the press of a button on a touchscreen, more likely), the Airstream could feel palatial in scale.
That sounds pretty luxurious. And with the event-day collaboration of the hospitality scent-branding artists at 12.29, the trailer had a lovely aroma as well. So, all told, that little bit of retro glamour sure did make its modern-day luxury seekers comfortable. If that’s possible on wheels, imagine what’s possible in a room?