WiFi in the Islands
Incorporating the Crystal Palace Casino, the 850-room Wyndham Nassau is part of Cable Beach Resorts, which also comprises the venerable Nassau Beach Resort and a Radisson hotel. Cable Beach is one of the largest resorts in the Bahamas.
The Wayport network will offer WiFi access in all guest rooms at the resort as well as all common areas such as lobbies, lounges, and meeting rooms. The Wyndham Nassau contains more than 30,000 square feet of meeting and event space.
Such ubiquitous wireless networks are becoming commonplace at high-end hotels in Europe and North America, but the Caribbean and other areas have been slower to adopt the technology, says Wyndham Nassau CIO Matthew Carey.
"From a big-resort perspective in Nassau we're the first" to offer this type of WiFi coverage, says Carey. "There are some smaller resorts that offer some form of Internet access to their guests, but by installing the Wayport solution we've elevated ourselves in marketplace."
As in the majority of its other 800 or so hotel deployments worldwide, Wayport has established a revenue-sharing model with the Wyndham Nassau. The hotel paid nothing upfront for the network, and will share the $14.95 in daily revenue for guest-room connections with the provider. The network, which went live July 1 after less than three weeks of installation time, runs over DSL connections to the guest rooms and other areas, where it's then broadcast across a WiFi network.
Previously, guests had no options for getting online other than dialing long-distance to a U.S. service provider.
"We found the demand was really big," notes Carey. "Even though we're a resort [as opposed to a business-traveler hotel], folks still love to check email, to keep in touch with their family at home -- or to check their stocks while they're on vacation."
As with other high-end hotels that have established ubiquitous WiFi, the Wyndham installed the network primarily for the guests, but will find collateral benefits down the line for its staff and operations. (See Hands-Free on Turtle Creek.)
"From an internal perspective this has opened up a lot of avenues that can ride on top of the Wayport installation," explains Carey. "It will give us the ability to do wireless check-ins using the same infrastructure, for instance, and our executive team is pretty mobile, whether they're on wireless PDAs or [WiFi-equipped] laptops.
"Plus, from an IT perspective, we don’t really have to support the solution day-to-day, so it relieves resources here. I can dedicate my networking team to other, more important issues."
While the hospitality industry has been relatively slow to adopt new wireless technology, it could be one of the primary beneficiaries of such networks in the future.
"More locations, including high-end resorts, are starting to take advantage of the high-speed networks we install, using them for a variety of applications and products outside of guest access," says Wayport vice president of marketing and business development Dan Lowden. Those applications include remote curbside check-in, video surveillance systems, cashless payments over the network, and instant no-touch staff communications using a wireless badge system from Vocera Communications Inc.
The Wyndham Nassau WiFi network covers all public spaces in the resort except for the casino floor -- where the hotel is prohibited by gaming commission regulations from providing network access.
— Richard Martin, Senior Editor, Unstrung