The hotel room of tomorrow is already here. Innovations and technological wizardries that have been installed at several hotels and motels were on display here recently at the 63rd international Hotel-Motel-Restaurant Show. The exhibition is the oldest hotel show of its kind in the world. More than 50,000 tradespeople visited its 550 exhibitor booths during its four-day run at the New York Coliseum.
Though there was nothing radically new in the way of hotel room amenities, several recently introduced, ultra-modern features appear to be catching on and spreading. Here are some of the things you can expect to find in your hotel room in the future -- if they aren't there already:
A no-key profile. More and more hotels are switching from keys to plastic card or metal disc door-openers. The magnetically-coded cards are inserted in a slot or next to the room door. The codes are changed every time a guest checks out, thereby thwarting thieves.
Personal bars. No need to call room service or go to the hotel's cocktail lounge if you want a drink. Machines dispense alcoholic drinks right in the room. One unit, "Inn-room Bar-tender," is totally computerized and features five varieties of booze. All a guest has to do is place a glass under his selection, insert a special key (given to him when he checks in), and his spirits pour out. The charge for the drink is added electronically to the guest's bill. (Check the price before you buy -- you may prefer to walk to the bar.)
Individual steam baths. Hotel guests now can take steam or whirlpool baths in their own bathtubs. Thermasol, the world's largest manufacturer of steambath equipment, reports that units are already in more than 1,000 hotels and motels nationwide.
Disappearing beds. Beds that fold into the wall are becoming the in thing at many hotels and motels for two reasons. Guest rooms can easily be converted to meeting rooms or hospitality suites. Also, in many cases they do away with the necessity for added roll-away beds. Sico, one of the exhibitors at the recent exhibition here, said many of the larger hotel and motel chains already have installed the fold-away wall beds in a good percentage of their rooms.
In hotel restaurants, you can now plan in many cases on eating fresh-grown herbs year-round. The most exciting new product many visitors found at the hotel trade show is the "Herb Market." Manufactured by Applied Hydrophonics of Canada, it is a modular soilless growing system that allows restaurants to grow their own fresh herbs indoors throughout the year with a minimum of time and effort. The system is already in operation at New York's Waldorf Astoria Hotel.