OPUS Vancouver has always wanted to give its 96 guest rooms distinct personalities. So much so that it created five "personalities" to guide the styling of each room.
Guests staying in the Yaletown-based hotel even received notes on their beds, purportedly from those personalities, telling them of activities around town.
Now the personalities have made a technological jump, with each room being equipped with an iPad the guests can take around Vancouver during their stay. According to the hotel's co-owner and president John Evans, OPUS is the only hotel in Canada providing iPads, the popular tablet computing device created by Apple, in all the rooms.
Pierre, a food critic from Paris, guides visitors to dinner at West, drinks at George and to the Museum of Anthropology. "His" iPads include wine-pairing and saxophone apps. Susan, a fashion executive from Toronto, recommends shopping at Lululemon and visiting a YYoga studio. Her iPad includes the app for the fashion and style section of the New York Times.
Amy Ballard, director of sales and marketing for OPUS, worked with Apple, which suggested appropriate apps for each faux personality.
Evans says the hotel industry is "incredibly competitive," and as a boutique hotel OPUS tries to break new ground.
"Technology is one of the areas where you need to lead," he said. "So for us to be the first in Canada and amongst the first in the North America, that's important, that's very important, and our market is looking for that."
Evans believes one or two hotels in the United States offer iPads to some guests.
The iPads can be used anywhere, not just in WiFi hotspots. They allow visitors to avoid racking up smart phone roaming charges.
Evans says guests can reserve another style of room each time to have a different experience.
He said the economic downturn in 2008 and 2009 hurt hotels but OPUS has seen business improve each year since.
"Everybody would like to see more tourists. They'd like to see more American visitors. We'd like to see more conventions, all of those things," Evans said. "December, January, February are always the most difficult of the months in Vancouver."
Candice Gibson, manager of consumer marketing for Tourism Vancouver, says Vancouver's hotel industry is fairing better than other Canadian cities. Rooms here are expected to earn an average of $140 per day in 2012, compared to $130 a month across Canada. Vancouver's rooms also earned about $10 more in 2011.
Occupancy rates appear to be holding steady or improving, she said, with projections of around 67 per cent for Vancouver hotels in 2012. (Occupancy rates have been 65 per cent and lower in recent years.) The Canadian average is projected to be 62 per cent.
Hotel operators have expressed concern about occupancy rates in June, so Tourism Vancouver is launching a new campaign, but Gibson said summer's looking good.