Monday, September 30, 2013

Chicago's Business Hotels

Chicago is a huge, bustling city, which means people often come here on business and need a place to stay. These hotels are specifically catered to business travelers with great amenities and an atmosphere that makes them feel at home. 

The Peninsula, an Asian themed hotel, occupies an entire city block of the Magnificent Mile and has a restaurant  which serves Cantonese cuisine in a 1930's supper club ambiance. They have free fitness classes so guests can stay active while traveling. the Peninsula also has a conference room, which makes it a popular hotel for corporate meetings. Complimentary Wi-Fi and a coffee shop help to make it a great hotel for business travelers.


The Park Hyatt has gorgeous views of Lake Michigan and the historic Water Tower Place. This hotel also has a great restaurant  NoMi. The rooms have glass desks and sunken tubs, and combine a functional place to do business with beautiful decor. It has been named one of the world's best hotels by Hotel and Leisure magazine. 


The Waldorf Astoria has an indoor pool, full service spa and a health club. For business travelers, they have a business center, meeting rooms, and technology support staff. It has a gorgeous art deco style to it. Located in the Gold Coast area, the Waldorf Astoria is close to both night life and Chicago's business district. 


Business travel is a growing area right now and hotels are capitalizing on that by catering to business travelers, especially in a large city like Chicago, which makes a lot of money from tourism. Hotels will continue to cater to business travelers because it is an ever increasing market. 

For more information please visit http://www.cntraveler.com/travel-tips/business-travel/polls/2013/photos-best-business-travel-hotels-united-states_slideshow_item29_30

Friday, September 27, 2013

Helpful Hackers

When the average person pictures a hacker they usually think of a shadowy figure behind a computer, stealing people's personal information. A new breed of hacker is emerging however, who works with city officials to track information like where to get a free flu shot or real time subway delays. These hackers code apps, which are designed to make the city operate more efficiently and addresses the community’s needs.


Code for America brings hackers together with data that needs to be looked at. It's described as being "a yearlong commitment, almost like Peace Corps for geeks" by Christopher Whitaker, the head of Chicago's Code for America team. They sort through large amounts of public data in order to shape it into something useful.


One way Chicago is using this is with its new bike sharing system, Divvy, by creating maps that show stations with unused bikes. This data could then be used to see which routes are most popular or find broken bikes, and just generally improve service. Chicago also has an app, which allows people to type in their address during flu season, and find a clinic nearest to them to get a flu shot.

New York launched a free program called Embark last year, which maps subway locations in real time and can plan a route for you. This makes travelling by public transit much more convenient, as many people in Chicago know. Chicago has CTA tracker and transit chatter - both of these apps track trains and buses in real time, and transit chatter even allows you to chat with your fellow commuters.

This kind of information really has endless possibilities, from tracking public transit, to finding a flu shot, to a free bike program. This data can be used to better understand how our cities work and hopefully make our cities more efficient. For more information please visit http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324263404578613850076916028.html

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Social Media Week

Social Media Week, which has events around the world, kicked off Monday and looks to explore the impact of social media on society, culture, and business. One of twenty-six cities participating in this is Chicago. 


Social media is always advancing and changing with time; the event “Future Trends in Technology and Social Media” highlights some of the newest trends in technology that will change how businesses work. Another event “Help Shape the Future of Work” is familiar to us as we previously mentioned a company called Liquid Space partnering with Marriott hotels to bring temporary work spaces to business travelers in hotels that can be rented on an as needed basis. 


Social Media Week celebrates the latest in social media technology and the hotel industry is increasingly embracing social media. As mentioned previously, from an online hotel lost and found to Twitter and Instagram themed hotels, social media is becoming an integral part in how hotels conduct business.

For more information please visit http://socialmediaweek.org/chicago/

Monday, September 23, 2013

Boutique Hotels: Little Gems in Big Cities

Boutique hotels are a new trend popping up in big cities. They are smaller hotels, which means the focus is more on each individual guest. They're more intimate and homey, like a home away from home. This draws guests who just want a more individual experience.

The Villa di Citta, in Lincoln Park, Chicago is a cozy six bedroom hotel with an outdoor whirlpool, sundeck, and a gorgeous brick courtyard with a barbecue. It has a large communal kitchen so you can get to know your fellow guests while cooking delicious food. All of the suites also have huge flat screen TVs and beautiful hard wood floors.

Chicago Bed and Breakfast, IL

The Drake Hotel in Toronto, Canada is set in the art and design district, making it trendy and hip. It has colorful decor and rooms are warm and modern with large flat screen TVs and iPod docks. It is definitely aimed towards a younger crowd as it features an exciting night club.


The Hotel Apostrophe Rive Gauche is very unique as its exterior is painted to look like a tree, which makes it stand out from the many hotels in Paris. The inside is equally as artsy with 16 rooms - each featuring a different theme. The Musique room, for example, has a music note mural on the wall. The rooms are very modern and feature flat screen TVs, free Wi-Fi, and iPod docks.


Hotels like these are proving that you don't have to be a big name in the hotel industry to provide great service in a fun and unique way. Who knows, one of these hotel brands could be the next Hilton.

Friday, September 20, 2013

iOS 7: Apple’s Biggest Change

Apple announced the release of two new iPhones last week, but that may not be Apple’s most exciting news this month. Apple’s new operating system iOS 7 is one of the biggest changes we've seen to iPhones in a while. 


Previous iOS updates always look slightly different than its predecessors, but iOS 7 makes it seem like a whole new phone. Apps on the new interface appear more flat and modern as opposed to the previous design where the icons for certain apps looked like real life objects. There are also various swipe gestures that make it simple and convenient to locate the most commonly used apps and settings.


This seems like the next big step for Apple as new features in iOS 7 eliminate the need to use non Apple apps like Pandora or Instagram since the new update offers streaming iTunes Radio and camera filters. With every new iPhone comes a new software update, but iOS 7 is the most drastically different one we have seen yet.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Instahotel: The First Instagram Themed Hotel

We have previously mentioned a Twitter themed hotel, but what about an Instagram themed hotel? The 1888 Hotel in Sydney, Australia has made that a reality. Social media is increasingly seen as a form of influence and 1888 Hotel is taking advantage of that by allowing 50 guests with a minimum of 10,000 Instagram followers to spend a night at the hotel for free. For those who do not have as many followers, the hotel also holds a monthly contest providing the guest who posts the best and most creative photo on Instagram a free night. All guests have to do to participate in either of the contests is Instagram pictures at the hotel using the hotel’s Instagram handle #1888Hotel.


The hotel’s name is even in reference to the year Kodak introduced the first camera with film. It is also decorated in a way to promote guests to take and Instagram pictures. There is a large digital photo frame that hangs in the lobby to showcase the best Instagram photos and a mirror so guests can take popular “selfies.” There are also over 100 Instagram pictures taken by guests that are used as d├ęcor throughout the hotel.



This seems like a smart idea to us as the guests who have over 10,000 followers on Instagram are top social media influencers and would quickly spread word of the hotel.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Today’s Trendy Hotels

What's trendy and popular is always changing; fashion trends, tech trends and even trends within hospitality. Check out three hotels that all cater to the celebrity lifestyle, which means glamorous suites with great amenities!

Trump Soho in New York City is one of our favorites. This property has a hip, young vibe, combined with the great service you would expect from a Trump hotel. Paparazzi often camp out outside of its doors hoping to snap a photo of anyone from the Kardashians to Jessica Alba, all of whom frequent this hotel. It also has a luxurious spa and an outdoor pool, which is open seasonally. The Japanese restaurant Koi, inside the Trump, features some of the best chefs in the country, and is also a celebrity hot spot.


The Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel in Los Angeles is one of the most famous hotels in a town filled with famous buildings and celebrities. It combines the glamour of Old Hollywood, with the modern scene of today's Hollywood, featuring multiple bars clustered around a huge pool. They also have a delicious casual restaurant open 24 hours. Everyone from Angelina Jolie to Robert Pattinson have been seen here, and it remains a spot for those who want to be seen.


The Hotel Belliago in Las Vegas is basically the epitome of Vegas luxury and draws celebrities like Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel. It features a five pool courtyard, formal room service, indoor botanical gardens, a buffet that has been called the best on the strip, and a superb fitness center and spa. Since this is Vegas, it also has its own nightclub.


Everyone wants to live like a celebrity and these hotels can help you do it, but you should act fast because who knows what the popular and trendy hotels of tomorrow will be!

Friday, September 13, 2013

“Phablet”: The funny sounding name that could be the next big thing

“Phablets,” a hybrid of a smart phone and tablet, may seem bulky and unnecessary, but in emerging markets they account for 30% of the smart phone market. These devices are typically between 5-7 inches in size, which makes it appealing for those who want to do more on their smart phones, but don’t like the small screens. Let’s take a look at a few of these popular devices… The Sony Xperia Z Ultra  has a 6.4 inch screen and resembles Sony's flagship smart phones and tablets. This "phablet" has an advantage over others in that it is waterproof!


The Sony Xperia Z Ultra  has a 6.4 inch screen and resembles Sony's flagship smart phones and tablets. This "phablet" has an advantage over others in that it is waterproof!


LG's Optimus G Pro is one of the best-selling devices behind Samsung's Galaxy Note II. With a 5.5 inch LCD screen and a 13-megapixel camera, one can expect to take great pictures.


Last, but not least the Asus Fonepad Note FHD 6 has a 6 inch screen and full HD resolution. To compete with Samsung's devices, it also comes with a stylus.



These devices combine the best of smart phones and tablets into one device. Would you rather have a smart phone or a "phablet"?

For more information please visit http://www.brighthand.com/default.asp?newsID=20345&p=2

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Hotel Suites Fit for a King or Queen

Everyone wants to feel like a V.I.P and these glamorous hotels that have everything from personal chefs to four foot chandeliers and breathtaking views allow people to do just that. These hotels come with a royally big price tag though, as the most expensive costs $40,000 a night.

The Ty Warner Penthouse at Four Seasons Hotel in New York was designed by architects I.M Pei and Peter Marino and is on the 52nd floor. It offers an incredible view of the New York skyline from four glass balconies. The suite features mother of pearl inlet walls, 22k gold fabrics, a four foot chandelier, a bronze adorned library complete with a grand piano, and a stunning indoor to outdoor Zen garden with a floor to ceiling waterfall. A personal trainer and a Rolls Royce chauffeur are always there to complete the experience, which for starting at $40,000 a night should be expected.



The Casa Five suite at the Sanctuary Camelback Mountain in Arizona features panoramic views of Camelback Mountain and Paradise Valley. Guests who book this suite get five bedrooms and a sprawling outdoor patio, which features a hot tub, plush seating, and a fire pit - perfect for curling up around at the end of a long day. A chauffeur will drive you to the local farmers market and help you select food, which personal chefs then cook up a gourmet meal complete with wine pairings. And from $3,500 a night this hotel is a steal compared to the Ty Warner Penthouse.

 

The Penthouse at The Fairmont San Francisco Hotel is a 6,000 square foot penthouse which spans the entire 8th floor and looks like something straight out of a fairy tale. The two story library has a secret passageway and a dome which looks like the night sky with constellations painted in gold leaf. At $15,000 a night, The Fairmont is pricey, but still not as expensive as the first hotel we mentioned. 



These hotels offer glamour and the chance to live like a king, which is why over the top hotels will always appeal to guests.

For more information on the top luxurious hotels please visit http://www.cnn.com/2013/06/05/travel/gold-list-hotel-suites/index.html?hpt=tr_bn6 

Ice Hotels: Modern Day Igloos

It’s fall in Chicago, but you wouldn't know it based on the weather of 92 degrees today. People are finding creative waves to deal with the heat and one of the most creative is hotels that are made out of snow and ice. These hotels offer relief from the heat and are simply fun – who wouldn't want to stay in a modern day igloo?

Hotel Kakslauttanen in Finland features glass igloos built of thermal glass to keep guests warm. Guests have the unique opportunity to watch the Northern Lights while still being nice and warm inside as the hotel is located 150 miles above the Arctic Circle. For more adventurous guests, this hotel also offers traditional igloos made of snow.



The Ice Hotel in Sweden is the oldest and largest hotel in the world made out of ice and snow. Even though the hotel is 23 degrees Fahrenheit inside, guests are provided with down sleeping bags and while the beds are made out of ice blocks, they are covered with warm blankets. Think 23 degrees is cold? The Sorrisniva Igloo Hotel in Norway has temperatures of negative four degrees. This hotel also provides warm blankets and sleeping bags to keep guests warm and offers a warm service building with a sauna to make sure guests are comfortable throughout their stay. Guests can enjoy leisurely activities, such as taking a guided snowmobile safari and taking in views of the Northern Lights. 



Think 23 degrees is cold? The Sorrisniva Igloo Hotel in Norway has temperatures of negative four degrees. This hotel also provides warm blankets and sleeping bags to keep guests warm and offers a warm service building with a sauna to make sure guests are comfortable throughout their stay. Guests can enjoy leisurely activities, such as taking a guided snowmobile safari and taking in views of the Northern Lights. So if the heat gets to be too much for you, ditch the traditional hotels and make your way to an ice hotel. The only question now is if ice hotels will retain their appeal once the temperature drops and Chicago's winter takes over. 



So if the heat gets to be too much for you, ditch the traditional hotels and make your way to an ice hotel. The only question now is if ice hotels will retain their appeal once the temperature drops and Chicago's winter takes over. 

For more information please visit http://travel.nationalgeographic.com/travel/winter-trips/ice-hotels/

Friday, September 6, 2013

Chicago’s Tech Startup Scene

When people think of new technology Silicone Valley comes to mind, but Chicago has a growing tech startup scene as well. This is no surprise as Chicago is the fourth largest technology region in the U.S. Who knows, the next big thing could come from Chicago!


Rate Your Seats is a new startup founded by Keith Hanson which allows users of the site to see what the view from their seats at sporting events would look like before they buy tickets. You can simply set your seat preferences and it will find you the best ticket available. Users submit photos and reviews so you can know exactly where you are sitting. As the company is becoming more popular, they recently have released an app to make sharing photos and reviews easier from cell phones.

 

Another new startup founded in Chicago is Review Trackers. This company makes it easy for businesses to monitor online reviews from various sites all in one central location. Review Trackers takes all the hassle out of looking at customer reviews on each individual website.

 Many successful tech companies have started in Chicago - it’s even where YouTube began! What new startups do you think will arise from one of the best cities?

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Samsung vs. Apple: Who Will Win The Smart Phone War?

We have previously mentioned the strong competition between leading tech companies Apple and Samsung, but what new technology are we looking forward to in this fast paced market? With Apple’s highly anticipated iPhone launch planned for September 10, there are many rumors as to what we can look forward to from this top company. However, along with Apple’s launch comes the announcement of Samsung’s Galaxy Note III and the Galaxy Gear smart watch.

It is rumored that two iPhones will be announced at Apple’s launch event – one as a successor to the iPhone 5 that could possibly also be available in a gold color and the other a cheaper version of the iPhone. The cheaper version is expected to be called the iPhone 5C and come in a variety of colors. The iPhone 5C is rumored to only have a limited release at first in emerging markets as Apple attempts to diversify its customer appeal.


Samsung not too long ago released its Galaxy S IV smart phone that was supposed to be the “iPhone killer” and while Samsung’s smart phone does have features that the iPhone doesn't – the popularity of the iPhone does not seem to be diminishing. That is why it is not surprising that Samsung’s new product launch is a week before Apple’s – with the release of a new smart phone and a smart watch. The introduction of a smart watch is important as Apple has not officially entered this market yet.

samsung gear watch

As these leading companies compete for consumer’s attention, which one do you think will produce the winning product?