By Terry Trucco
We love trade shows. For hotel buffs the annual International Hotel, Model + Restaurant Show at New York’s Javits Center is the Great Kahuna, a self-described hospitality show of shows unleashing a cornucopia of new, well, stuff.
Tucked deep within the rows of big-ticket items – towering refrigerators, 12-inch-thick mattress, even a couple of food trucks – we found five nifty gadgets their backers want to put in hotels. Remember, you (probably) saw them here first.
Check, Please Celestina Pugliese, a former trader from Lynbrook, New York, was irritated one night when the server kept trying to collect the check before she and her companion had paid the bill. “The check holder should light up when you’re ready to pay,” she thought. So she went home and invented Ready Check Glo, aka the world’s first illuminating guest check presenter and bar menu. That translates into a black leather-like check folder with a clear plastic window you can light up with the push of a button to alert the server that your payment is ready. Her invention, which won Best in Show, can be customized with a hotel, restaurant or bar logo and is in use at the W Times Square and W New York. Battery operated, it goes dark after four minutes “in case the server forgets to turn it off,” Pugliese says.
Instant Napkins Water it and watch it grow. Meet the latest riff on the pre-moistened towelette (or pocket flask of Purelle). In its compressed state Napkin looks like a fat Alka-Seltzer tablet or an after-dinner mint, individually wrapped in clear cellophane. But when doused with scented water that can be hot or cold, it expands and blooms into a one-time-use hand towel that’s biodegradable. It’s also oddly chic (it’s made in Italy). The fanciest model features a sleek black tray with separate compartments for towel buttons and water and a sleek pair of tongs for dipping. “Hotels can set it in on a table in the lobby for guests to use as they come in,” the company rep said.
Ultimate Peephole Instead of a small, round window that’s often blurry, the prosaically, if accurately, titled Door Security Monitor is a 2.4-inch HD screen that shows you exactly who’s standing in front of the door, be it friend or perv. From the outside the device looks like a standard peephole. From the inside it captures a 170-degree area, so you can see how many people are out there – and even what kind of shoes they’re wearing. The monitor from Capstone Industries uses batteries; if they go dead, it can operate as a classic manual peephole in a pinch.
Radio Style We don’t often get excited about hotel clock radios – mostly they irritate us – but Tivoli’s new Albergo AM/FM Hotel Clock Radio could be the exception. Outfitted with Bluetooth, it streams music from smartphones, iPads and tablets without WiFi. The display panel spells out instructions for setting the alarm or changing the channel so you’re not hitting buttons randomly. The clock gets its data from the FM monitor so it’s never necessary to set the time. And, our favorite detail, the clock’s white or black plastic monitor fits into a wood sleeve – and more than two dozen styles of wood are available. Expect to see Albergo in boutique hotels wanting a signature look.
Spin the, er, Glass One of the more amusing objects on view was remarkably low tech. Shtox crystal tumblers from Bavaria, Germany are designed to spin when they’re turned. And spin they do, just like tops and dreidels, round and round. Very entertaining. (The Shtox showcase featured demonstrators garbed in black, their faces behind a barrier, so all you saw were white-gloved hands twirling glasses.) The crystal comes in six swoopy cuts that enhance the entertainment value. And the trick? Each glass has a small (patented) knob on the bottom. Apparently, that’s all it takes.