The Sinclair, Autograph Collection: Building the first all-digital hotel

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first all-digital hotel

The Sinclair, Autograph Collection: Building the first all-digital hotel

Farukh Aslam had a vision for a new kind of hotel – a smart, digitally transformed hotel that would use the latest advances in digital smart building technology, building/in-room sensors, Internet of Things (IoT) gateways and dashboards to not only run more efficiently, but also deliver actionable business insights that help the hotel serve guests in a more personalized way.

This vision was both broad and deep. It was about digitally transforming traditional hotel operations – and leveraging IoT – to deliver a superior, customized experience for customers in the first all-digital hotel. Aslam, CEO & President of Sinclair Holdings, LLC realized his vision in building The Sinclair, Autograph Collection in Fort Worth, Texas – which opens in January of 2020. 

This hotel is a restoration of the Sinclair Building, a Fort Worth art deco historic masterpiece built in 1930 that is on the National Register of Historic Places. The digital transformation undertaken at this new hotel goes far beyond the many internal, behind-the-scenes operational benefits that visitors will never see. Visitors who stay at the hotel get the benefit of being able to:

  • Customize their visit – By connecting the hotel’s environmental controls systems to the popular Marriott phone app (used by members of the Marriott Bonvoy customer loyalty programme), hotel guests that opt in for this service can have the settings for the temperature, lights, window shades and other in-room environmental options automatically configured to match their specific preferences from the moment they check in.
  • Use custom in-room “scenes” to control lights window shades and other connected devices in guest rooms to pick the environment that best suits what guests want at any particular moment (ie. good morning, social, relax and romantic).
  • Use exercise equipment that allows them to “give back” to the environment. Guests can actually reduce their carbon footprint when they stay at this hotel by opting to have the energy generated by their use of exercise equipment generate power that feeds back into the digitally-controlled DC power grid of this hotel.

Those are just a few of the specific benefits that guests will get from experience that the digital transformation of The Sinclair, Autograph Collection in Fort Worth. There are many, many other benefits that accrue to both the hotel and its guests from the digitally-powered design of the facility.

 “In our hotel, we are attempting to make a first truly smart building where every endpoint, from all lighting to our window blinds, window shade motors, mini bars – even our mirrors – all have IP addresses and they are connected through Ethernet cables,” explains Aslam, giving just a glimpse of the reach and extent of his vision.

“Our switches are powered with digital electricity so we can monitor power consumption at every single node in real time and store the data – and display that data to tell you which areas are consuming how much power on a daily, weekly or monthly basis,” adds Aslam. He also revealed that the hotel expects to see a 50% reduction in the energy costs it would have had without all the smart building technology it is employing.

The technology underpinning this smart hotel includes:

  • Cisco’s Meraki smart wi-fi cloud networking solution with SAS data analytics integration for location-based analytics and personalized guest messaging
  • Voltserver’s Power over Ethernet (PoE) to deliver its patented “Digital Electricity” solution to power the Cisco Switches
  • Motorized shades and drapes from Somfy using POE to manage and control them
  • PoE-powered LED mirrors from Electric Mirror
  • Battery-powered UPS systems that eliminate the need for diesel emergency generators
  • Intel’s IoT Gateway to bring together the data, edge computing power and management capabilities of the smart building infrastructure
  • Intel Unite wireless display and collaboration technology for the hotel’s meeting spaces

And that’s just a fraction of the technology employed in The Sinclair, Autograph Collection. According to Stacey Shulman, Chief Innovation Officer for IoT Group/Retail, Hospitality, Banking and Education at Intel, the work undertaken by Aslam and his team is one of a growing number of examples of how IoT technology is making buildings smarter and allowing hospitality providers to build richer, more personalized, enhanced and powerful experiences for guests and associates. 

“This project is something else!” she observed. “What he did is to create a fully digitally-powered hotel. Every single thing that requires power has an Internet address and is individually addressable – and with that you can then take analytics and make the entire hotel experience intelligent and responsive to the consumer and the staff of the hotel.”

She explains Intel’s role as a strong driving force in the digital reinvention of the hotel experience for The Sinclair – and other hotel customers adopting their pioneering, powerful and unique digital approach to hotel design. “We pull everybody together and we have deep relationships with everyone across the industry,” said Shulman. “We’ve got a great reputation for creating a robust ecosystem, so we can be a trusted advisor for these kinds of projects”.

For more information about Intel’s IoT technology and solutions visit this link.


Lucian FogorosAbout the author:  Lucian Fogoros, co-founder, IIoT World. Lucian has worked in the industrial software and automation industry since 1998. He holds a BSEE from Cleveland State University and an MBA in Entrepreneurial Finance from Case Western Reserve University. He has worked in various positions: software development, product development, training, marketing, pre-sales, product management, M&A integration and global marketing. Lucian has served as the World Trade Center Cleveland Representative for Eastern Europe and as a Board Member for the