Zoned sound and guest immersion Making Music

Being able to provide lively outdoor venues, like at Hard Rock Cancun, here, can enhance the party atmosphere of a hotel.

Being able to provide lively outdoor venues, like at Hard Rock Cancun, here, can enhance the party atmosphere of a hotel.


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While restaurants and retail space have little need for multiple zoning options, the hotel sector seems perfectly designed to accommodate several music options at a time. The variety of spaces found in hotels are rarely accommodating to a single musical taste, and according to Clayton Burton, CEO of Applied Media Technologies Corporation, hotels are statistically the most popular outlets for zoned music.

“Hotels will want something more mellow for the lobby, a different theme for their pool and something upbeat for the gym,” Burton said. As the technology evolves it is also becoming easier for hotels to install or manage. “It doesn’t need to be more complicated than having multiple receivers, or even just a multiple-zone receiver,” Burton said.

Older properties may have to be redesigned for a zone-based system to work properly, but from a technical standpoint having multiple sources is more manageable than it has ever been. The InterContinental hotel in Milwaukee recently installed music zones throughout four areas in the hotel—the lobby, restaurant, fitness center and meeting space—using a setup from Prescriptive Music.

“There are some start-up costs for wiring, speakers and installing the main system,” said Timothy Smith, GM of the property. “But once you get it going, the monthly fees are manageable.

Smith uses the system to play background music in the meeting space while playing songs at a consistent 120 to 125 beats per minute in the hotel fitness center to keep energy high. However, the music selection changes throughout the day for the lobby and restaurant in three separate chunks. 

“For breakfast we play mellow jazz for guests to enjoy alongside their coffee, and at lunch we play more modern music as the day gets started,” Smith said. “For dinner, we have a typical American Bistro, so we stick to songs from the ‘50s and ‘60s to fit the atmosphere.”

The Hard Rock Hotel Cancun has a more robust 13 zones with which to further isolate the mood of an area. For Pamela Hernandez, vibe manager of the property, volume is as important to the mood as song selection. “The softest music will be found at the spa, but we also have a relaxation pool where it is quiet,” Hernandez said. “If the volume is too high, it doesn’t matter how good the song is. If it’s too low, guests simply won’t care.”

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