Saxon Hotel Case Study
Saxon Hotel, Villas & Spa Johannesburg offers next generation guest experiences with Exterity IP Video
At the heart of the City of Gold, beneath the warm sunshine in the opulent, tree-lined suburb of Sandhurst, lies the enchanting Saxon Hotel, Villas & Spa. A uniquely perfect blend of rich cultural history and contemporary five-star service, the Saxon is situated on ten acres of magnificent indigenous gardens, providing a private and peaceful retreat like no other.
The Saxon is renowned for going above and beyond, with minute attention to detail to ensure absolute privacy and comfort. From the quality of the food to the finer points of its award-winning hospitality, guests can expect only the best. Voted the World’s Leading Boutique Hotel since 2001, the Saxon takes pride in offering impeccable quality and service at every level, leaving guests with a lasting impression of outstanding excellence and a longing to return.
Across its 53 suites, the attention to detail and luxury extends across each guest space. This includes high speed Wi-Fi, use of Spa hydro facilities, 24-hour butler service, fresh flowers, access to a fitness centre and state-of-the-art entertainment services.
The Saxon offers a renowned blend of heritage and modernity and, as the Maintenance Manager at the hotel explains, this means offering all the comforts of home when it comes to audio and visual entertainment. “We are continually upgrading our facilities to meet the needs of our guests, whether that is in our suites, villas or conference facilities.”
The Saxon originally started working with Panavision Evolve, a highly-regarded specialist in AV and automation technology, in 2010. The hotel initially wanted Panavision to update its automation system but, due to the integrator’s efficiency and effectiveness, it trusted Panavision Evolve to complete further upgrades.
In 2017, the Saxon decided to implement a major upgrade project focused on its audio-visual capabilities. The hotel’s Maintenance Manager commented: “Our goal was to enhance the quality of our satellite TV services and provide additional Video on Demand functionality to allow guests to use services such as Netflix within each room. One of our main aims was to ensure absolute reliability while making it easy for our staff to manage audio-visual functions, both centrally and on an area by area basis.”
Panavision identified Exterity’s solutions as the most cutting edge and compatible with what the Saxon wanted to achieve. Jaco Potgieter, Sales Director for Panavision explains: “We looked at several potential IPTV technology suppliers for the project at Saxon, with a brief to meet the expectation of high quality and reliability, as well as the ability to seamlessly integrate with our core management systems. We had several meetings with Exterity, whose equipment and successful deployments for similar projects gave us the confidence that Exterity would provide the best balance of quality, reliability and compatibility.”
The legacy IPTV system at the Saxon used a single server that carried the inherent risk of a single point of failure, which the hotel wanted to avoid with the new design. As Potgieter added: “We created a design using a combination of Crestron and Exterity technology that has a per-room control processor for lighting, audio and video, all of which is linked to a central processor. The Exterity IPTV solution uses a modular design that enables TV gateways to be set up in a redundant design, with hot-swappable boards to ensure a higher degree of reliability and redundancy.”
The project involved the deployment of 68 Samsung HD SmartTVs designed for hospitality usage across the complex to future proof for the proposed Exterity upgrade, with additional projectors in conference areas. Panavision delivered the entire project, including structured cabling and sound stage design, to ensure that each space was able to take advantage of the capabilities, such as stereo surround sound and video up to UHD resolution, with a package of around 70 satellite TV channels, which are re-encrypted in compliance with the local broadcaster.
The new guest interaction system provided by Exterity starts with a Saxon-branded portal that allows the simple setup of languages options and preferences. The Exterity IPTV system is integrated with Crestron in-room controls to enable a single remote-control access to live TV and VoD entertainment content, multiroom audio and lighting. In addition to the comfortable in-room experience, the system also provides live TV throughout the public areas of the hotel, including conference suites and Spa treatment rooms.
The upgrade project took six weeks and was run in parallel with the legacy system to ensure no disruption to guests.
“Our goal was to enhance the quality of our satellite TV services and provide additional Video on Demand functionality to allow guests to use services such as Netflix within each room. One of our main aims was to ensure absolute reliability while making it easy for our staff to manage audio-visual functions, both centrally and on an area by area basis.”
“One of the benefits that was quickly evident was the upgrade in picture quality for our IPTV services,” says the Saxon’s Maintenance Manager. “The system also enables us to easily display and control our Saxon-branded video content across any display at any location, with simple in-room controls.”
At the heart of the system is the Exterity portal, a powerful middleware platform that enables the Saxon to provide an unparalleled viewing experience in up to UHD quality. The user interface can be easily customised via an intuitive administrator workflow to deliver dynamic, high-performance viewing interfaces for TV, Video on Demand, radio and interactive services, on any device.
“The portal approach allows the Saxon to easily add functionality to the system,” says Potgieter. “The Saxon prides itself on its personal touch. With the current Exterity system, they could easily add billing details, express checkout or taxi pick-up via the TV in their room.
”Exterity solutions are designed to be future-proof and, with the upgrade now in its seventh successful year. Our IPTV system is in use all day, every day, which means it needs to be incredibly reliable. Since its deployment, we have only had to solve two minor issues with a simple phone call. This impressive track record confirms our belief that high-quality solutions and products are a prerequisite for discerning, tech-savvy hotel guests.”