Photo courtesy Hyatt Regency Bellevue

Photo courtesy Hyatt Regency Bellevue

Hyatt Regency Bellevue recently announced a $5.2 million renovation. The three-part project includes lavish interior updates to guestrooms in the hotel’s original Cascade Tower, a renovated high tech lobby and redesign of pre-function and ballroom meeting spaces. The former two phases are now complete, and the redesign of meeting spaces is projected to finish by the end of 2014.

At the heart of this renovation is the Hyatt’s gorgeous new lobby, which has added new Asian-inspired furniture and upholstery, and most notably, two Microsoft Windows 8-powered interactive touch tables. Imagine a Microsoft Surface device the size of a coffee table – the 55-inch touch screen table units feature advanced processing power and Perceptive Pixel technology. Guests can use the tables to check in, view flight times, browse the web and even play games like digital air hockey or chess.

The tech upgrades in the lobby come with Hyatt Regency Bellevue’s partnership with Microsoft. The tech giant has a strong global reach within the global hospitality and travel industry working within every sector from hotels to airlines and cruise companies. Greg Jones, managing director for hospitality and travel at Microsoft, was excited to work with the Hyatt on the local level. “It was an opportunity to have a look at how they can drive a unique and differentiated experience to their guests through the use of technology. Hotel lobbies themselves can be almost transient area where but what we wanted to provide was something different and unique, to be able to provide guests a way to interact and be more informed about what’s going on in the property and around the area as well,” he said.

John D’Angelo, director of rooms at Hyatt Regency Bellevue, touted the significance of the tech additions for the hotel’s business customers.

“Bellevue is a technology city. People come here for technology and they all have and love technology. They need to do presentations and prepare, and that’s the kind of productive environment we wanted to create. At the same time, we have families who stay with us on weekends, plenty of people coming here to shop, and they want a place where they can have fun and relax. And these technology upgrades will provide that environment, too,” he said.

Jones explained that current and developing technologies are enabling properties and hospitality businesses to roll out innovative solutions across their brands more rapidly than they have been able to in the past. Guests also are becoming more technologically savvy. Jones added that partnerships with Mandarin Oriental Hotel has tablets serving as guest concierges in every room and Hilton is beginning to allow guests to use their mobile devices as room keys.

D’Angelo said that mobile room key will likely happen sometime in 2015. He projected in the near future guests will be able to use their mobile device for everything at the hotel – to check in and out, key in to their rooms, order room service, and more. But D’Angelo is naturally cautious about adding technology in an industry that relies so much on human interaction. “The more technology we get in our hotel and in this industry can be a double-edged sword. You have to be really careful not to isolate people. You want people to talk to each other. But that’s what’s so great with this technology – the tables bring people together and allow them to start a dialogue. When you see two total strangers from two different parts of the world sitting around that table and having a conversation or playing a game of chess, it’s a great experience. As advanced as this technology is, it brings the basics of our industry back to reality.”