Case Study: Waldorf Astoria Bangkok, Thailand

What does it take to win with the Hospitality Project category of the 2019 Inavation Awards? Find out as Hurrairah bin Sohail covers the Waldorf Astoria Bangkok installation.

In the ultra-competitive hospitality landscape of Bangkok, Thailand, hotels can do with any advantage they can grab. The Waldorf Astoria Bangkok shows how AV systems can be a route for hotels to gain a competitive edge.

Atkrist served as the consultant while Vichai Trading 1983 was the integrator for the project which was completed in October 2018.

Work on conceptualising the AV systems began early, as Thitikorn Sopchokchai, marketing director at Vichai Trading 1983, narrates: “Although we only completed installation for this hotel in 2018, the design work was started back from 2016 and this was one of the first hotels to be designed based on a networked AV system. We decided very early on that the base design for the hotel’s video and audio systems would be centred on the network.”

The decision to go with AV over IP was made with clear objectives in mind. Pichit Ngamtubtim, sales manager at Vichai Trading 1983, details: “The Ballroom and Junior Ballroom were installed with IP networked visual systems, allowing the hotel to combine or separate the rooms with ease. These systems are then controlled via iPads and touchscreen controllers, installed on the wall of the rooms. This provides a high degree of functionality to the hotel.”

The Ballroom and the Junior Ballroom identified by Ngamtubtim form the core of the Waldorf Astoria Bangkok. Panasonic projectors, 11,000 lumens brightness units for the larger Ballroom and 4,800 lumens brightness ones for the smaller Junior Ballroom, serve as the visual displays. These project visuals onto Draper screens. Lyln and Draper lifts are used to house the projectors in the ceiling. A Lumens HD camera is used to record proceedings.

Smaller Panasonic 3,500 lumens brightness projectors are used for the function rooms.

Sopchokchai says: “As this is a design-centric hotel, aesthetics were a very big consideration for us. All of our equipment had to seamlessly integrate into the interior of the hotel. This included all the ceiling speakers, projector lifts, as well as the projection screens.”

In the Ballroom, this design- centric approach posed a challenge. The room features a chandelier lighting fixture in the centre and this needed to be accounted for when positioning and installing the projectors.

AMX encoders and decoders are used to enable video transmission over the IP network. Ngamtubtim explains: “The signal is encoded to a digital signal via AMX SVSi products, transferred through LAN cables via IP to the switch hub. The signal is then decoded to the projectors and screens through HDMI ports. In this manner, the video signals can effectively be routed to any part of the hotel. This allows for flexible usage of separating and combining the rooms.”

The networked approach to video signal transmission is employed across all pertinent areas of the Waldorf Astoria Bangkok. Sopchokchai pinpoints how this approach is advantageous for the hotel: “With the most technologically advanced equipment, the meeting rooms and public areas of the Waldorf Astoria Hotel are one of the premier places for MICE activities in Bangkok. All the equipment works seamlessly together, as well as being flexible and convenient.”

Control over the AV systems is provided with the help of AMX NX3200 processor coupled with 4.3-in touch panels as well as Apple iPads. Ngamtubtim says: “The control system is based on AMX systems. Touchscreen panels are installed in each room, and iPads are provided as well, to give the hotel a more flexible and mobile usage option for the room’s operator. These touchscreen and iPads can control all areas such as the Ballroom, Junior Ballroom and function rooms.”

Audio in the Ballroom is provided courtesy of Tannoy CVS-8 ceiling loudspeakers paired with QSC CX108V amplifiers with a QSC Core 250i serving as the DSP. In the Junior Ballroom, QSC AC-C6T ceiling speakers are paired with QSC CX108V amplifiers and QSC digital signal processing.

Ngamtubtim says: “We chose QSC Q-Sys as the core for our audio system because of its capabilities and price, as well as its seamless integration with QSC amplifiers and loudspeakers.”

To make sure the Ballroom and Junior Ballroom were fully equipped with regards to AV systems, Vichai Trading 1983 has also provided a range of portable audio systems. The Waldorf Astoria Bangkok can deploy QSC K8.2 and K12.2 loudspeakers as well as a range of Audio-Technica wireless handheld, handheld, wireless lavalier, headworn, double-gooseneck and desk stand microphones.

Another aspect of the installation where the AV over IP approach paid dividends was background music for public areas. A mixture of TOA and QSC ceiling speakers are used for audio output along with QSC amplifiers. But it is the QSC Core DSPs that allowed Vichai Trading 1983 to easily rollout the extensive audio system for BGM with ease.

Digital signage in the public areas is provided with BrightSign media players and panels. It is used to display the hotel’s media as well as advertisements. In some cases, it also serves as a booking management display for meeting rooms to highlight schedules, availability and agendas.

To conclude, Sopchokchai says: “This project was unique and different from the others due to the prestige of the hotel’s brand. The Waldorf Astoria is the highest hotel tier when it comes to the Hilton chain. Of course, this meant that the hotel required the highest standard of equipment and installation. In addition, we had to account for the need to blend in the equipment with the interior design. But most importantly, this was one of the first hotels to be designed with IP networks being used for linking of AV. In fact, the AV systems were designed two to three years before this AV over IP technology became mainstream.”

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