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Room at the Inn-ternet

A quick look at a hotel that offers Internet access in every room.
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by Robin Taylor Parets

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When David Peck checked into the Nob Hill Lambourne hotel, in San Francisco, in May, he expected to find a comfortable bed and maybe a few chocolate coins on his pillow. Peck, president of Reelin' in the Years Productions, a San DiegoÑbased video-archive company, needed a place to stay while Reelin' was filming a testimonial for a band. What he got, along with the usual amenities, was use of a state-of-the-art laptop computer and access to the Internet -- both for free.

In April, the 20-room Nob Hill Lambourne hotel and spa (room rates start at $149 a night) became the nation's first hotel to offer Internet connectivity in all its rooms. Guests can access the Internet through Netscape, using the hotel's account and a local-access telephone number, says marketing manager Rob Delamater. And CompuServe and America Online are available to guests with accounts.

Guests also enjoy free use of a Toshiba laptop with an internal 28.8 modem. The computers are equipped with Windows 95, Claris Works, and E-mail capability through Eudora in addition to the Internet services. And if a traveler wants a laser printer, for no charge an employee will wheel a cart bearing one into the room.

The added technology services aren't that unusual for the Lambourne. Seven years ago, it was the first hotel in San Francisco to offer business centers in all 20 rooms. Work spaces included a 286 PC, a fax machine, and a two-line phone with voice mail. Recently, however, the hotel staff started noticing that business travelers seemed to prefer laptops, says Delamater, and began asking when the hotel might offer Internet connectivity. So the hotel removed the antiquated computers and invested about $15,000 in new technology. The new services are quickly becoming as popular as the spa. "We really had to rethink our business," says Delamater. "It was important to reinvent our hotel a bit."

Not so much, though, that the pampering got wired out of existence. Peck can still look forward to comfortable bedding (filled with goose down, yet) and a gift on his pillow -- here with a healthful twist: vitamin packs have replaced the traditional chocolates as a bedtime treat.

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Robin Taylor Parets (rparets@aol.com) is a Los AngelesÑbased business writer.




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