Inside New Zealand’s first ‘smart hotel’

There are no concerns about losing your room key at New Zealand’s first smart hotel Mi-Pad — because there isn’t one.

Instead, Mi-Pad guests simply download “mia” — the hotel’s very own app — on their phone or device, then use it to unlock their doors and do almost everything else from controlling lighting to heating to ordering room service.

Mi-Pad, overlooking Lake Wakatipu and the surrounding mountains, offers 57 modern rooms across six-storeys, and a rooftop terrace with spectacular views, just one block’s walk from Queenstown. Picture: Mi-Pad QueenstownSource:Supplied

While hi-tech smart hotels are popular in Asia, the recently opened Mi-Pad located in the South Island tourist mecca of Queenstown is the first “next-generation” hotel for this region,

combining unprecedented levels of technology and smart features with stylishly modern interiors.

Guests can even adjust the room’s lighting with their smartphones. Picture: Mi-PadSource:Supplied

As one of Mi-Pad’s first guests, my slight scepticism of this hi-tech hospitality concept vanished seconds after walking into the room. I was immediately hooked — suddenly obsessed by the mia app’s mood lighting function which allowed me to colour my room any shade of the rainbow I wished.

The app can be used as a room key, or to set mood lighting, read what’s going on in Queenstown, message other guests and much more. Picture: Mi-Pad QueenstownSource:Supplied

With the room soon glowing in calming shades of purple and blue, I was delighted when mia made the normally tricky task of adjusting room temperature effortless, then set the do-not-disturb light outside the door. As a lone traveller, mia quickly became my new BFF.

Fast and easy to use, it let me do so much: check in and out any time of day or night, control mood lighting, turn up the heat, order fresh towels, message other guests, find a restaurant or the weather report, and a whole lot more.

Space saving is another smart initiative at Mi-Pad Queenstown where each room has a fold out desk beneath the Chromecast-enabled televisions. Picture: Mi-Pad QueenstownSource:Supplied

Mia could even help me make new friends via its very own social networking site with in-house chat and photo sharing.

Mi-Pad does, of course, have a team of (exceptionally friendly and helpful) staff, but combined with mia, guests here have unprecedented autonomy over their stay.

Social spaces are fashionably appointed. Picture: Mi-Pad QueenstownSource:Supplied

The “smart” rooms come with free wi-fi plus the luxury of Chromecast, automatic sensor lights in toilet and shower cubicles, refillable containers of organic soap and shampoo in

bathrooms to minimise waste, and even straighteners as well as hairdryers.

Recycling bins sit below the sink, and ice buckets, refillable at ice machines on every floor, are used in lieu of fridges.

Mi-Pad’s guest terrace with comfortable outdoor chairs and a living wall filled with about 500 plants. Picture: Mi-Pad QueenstownSource:Supplied

In the foyer sits a giant floor-to ceiling screen — the “social wall” — displaying everything from snow conditions to local events. Guests who hashtag their photos #mipadqueenstown may even see their handiwork on the social wall.

As sexy as Mi-Pad’s smart features is its sleek interior design and muted colour scheme. The six-storey, 57-room hotel offers several cosy communal areas — fashionably furnished lounging spaces with cushion-covered couches and cosy throws, a reading nook, plus workspaces with plenty of USB ports.

Reading nooks and cosy lounges are built into the hotel. Picture: Mi-Pad QueenstownSource:Supplied

A rooftop terrace with in-built gas fireplace and long tables overlooking Queenstown’s Lake Wakatipu and the spectacular Remarkables mountain range is perfect for enjoying a bottle of

the region’s famous wine and dining on your takeaway meal.

An outdoor space sports large comfortable chairs sitting by a self-watering green wall brimming with about 500 plants.

Refillable bottles with organic soap, shampoo and moisturiser. Picture: Mi-Pad QueenstownSource:Supplied

Guests are welcome to bring takeaway back to the hotel. Picture: Mi-Pad QueenstownSource:Supplied

As bustling central Queenstown is literally around the corner, Mi-Pad was purposely designed without a restaurant and BYO dining in Mi-Pad’s communal spaces are welcome.

Vending machines on each floor dispense everything from coffee and tea to breakfast cereal and spiced chai lattes.

No coins? The vending machines take credit cards. Smart.

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