By Terry Trucco
We love the sneak peek aspect of trade shows, so we beelined to the recent International Hotel, Motel and Restaurant Show at Javits Center. Seeing the panoply of items hotels can choose from prompts reactions from what took them so long to whatever were they thinking?
Here’s a sampling of what we saw – and what you’ll be seeing soon, if not already. To put it another way – expect a lot more square dinner plates, one-cup coffee makers and iPod/iPhone dock station alarm clocks.
(Mini) bar hopping Our pick for the niftiest, space-saving minibar is the new DM-50 from Dometic. Equipped with two pull-out refrigeration drawers – a shallow one for mini-liquors and a deep one for cans and bottles – this slim little cooler can double as a nightstand and comes in all black or with wood-finish drawers.
Classiest minibar? The Smart Cube, a compact black box with a chic glass-front door. “Hotel refrigerators pick up trends from home refrigerators,” says Walt Strasser, executive vice-president of Minibar Systems, maker if the Smart Cube. Sensors allow guests to open the Smart Cube without a key. New York hotels stocking it include the Waldorf=Astoria, Palace, Intercontinental New York Times Square, W New York, Millenium Broadway, Sheraton New York and Plaza.
Sleep, Baby, Sleep Mesh-sided cribs covered in washable fabric, a contemporary riff on playpens, are fast replacing traditional wood or metal hotel cribs. “Next to safety, people want what they have at home when they travel,” says Virginia Williams, regional manager at Foundations, a supplier of cribs to Westin, Marriott, Hilton, Renaissance and Omni hotels among others. Besides being lightweight, the mesh crib folds to fit into a canvas case that looks like a large athletics bag. The latest model features a fabric side flap parents can pull over the see-through mesh when privacy is desired.
Safety First Travel-Tot is a 33-piece childproofing kit in a box. Though the New Jersey-based Travel-Tot company will happily sell to individuals, they’re hoping hotels will offer the kits to families as a perk or sell them in the minibar. Among the reusable contents are finger pinch guards, electrical outlet covers, foam corner guards, a sliding door lock, a forehead thermometer, a cabinet lock and a water thermometer that looks like a rubber duck.
Bag it Most hotel rooms stash plastic laundry bags sporting the hotel’s name in a drawer or closet. Green Garmento wants hotels to switch to bags made from eco-friendly woven polypropylene. Available in grass green, water blue, burgundy, black and red, the bags are lightweight, recyclable and reusable.
Made in the Shade We love the tulip umbrella, an inverted sunshade and rain protector, ideal for a hotel patio or roof deck, that sports a wide top and tapers gently at the pole, like an exuberant palm tree. Made in Germany, it’s stylish and practical – rainwater drains into a plexiglass encasing around the support. Large white tulips shade Chicago’s Wit Hotel and the Encore Wynn in Las Vegas but no hotels in New York — yet.
Top Dog Traveling terriers, beagles and bulldogs can expect all the comforts of home if the owners of Arfdog, a maker of dog accessories, have their way. Did you know 18 percent of travelers want to bring along a dog? W didn’t either, but that’s the stat. Items include New York pizza-flavored organic treats and soft chew toys shaped like passports and yellow taxis. New this year is a stylish raised double bowl ideal for Saint Bernards and other big dogs. New York hotels stocking the doggie goodies include the Four Seasons, Empire, MAVE and Cooper Square.
Jeepers Peepers Did you know a peep hole, so useful when you want to see if that’s really your room service breakfast on the other side, can serve as an unwanted window into your room? Enterprising creeps have been known to remove peepholes or, more subtly, use a new breed of reverse peeper that provides a sweeping view of a room. Peeper Stopper, a new low-tech device, is a plastic cover, available in black, white, cream or brown, that fits over the peep hole and allows the room occupant to open or close access to the peep hole at will. More functional than pretty, it should get the job done. Get lost, pervs!