Desert Islands Resort & Spa by Anantara, part of the Minor Hotel Group, and regarded as one of the most luxurious Abu Dhabi resorts, has upgraded its wireless network with Aruba Networks’ 802.11ac Wi-Fi across its property. The new network has enabled the hotel to provide gigabit Wi-Fi connectivity to guests and allowed staff to utiliSe a host of business-critical applications with greater ease.
“Although we had a legacy system in place to offer our guests Wi-Fi speeds of up to 2Mbps, we wanted to deliver a standardiSed quality of service across all our properties,” said Harikumar Nair, Director Information Technology at Anantara Hotels, Resorts & Spas, Abu Dhabi. “Besides catering to the high-speed connectivity demands of its guests, Desert Islands also needed a robust Wi-Fi network that could support back-end systems and the bandwidth-hungry applications that were being used by the operations team to do their jobs more efficiently.”
“We had already made strategic investments in our wired network infrastructure. However we were unable to achieve optimal performance across the network because of the performance restrictions arising from the wireless portion,” he stated. Desert Islands had also recently acquired greater bandwidth from its telecom provider and was eager to extend the benefits to its guests.
Nair continued, “As a premier location for events, particularly for the Government and public sector clients, our hotel regularly hosts conferences where hundreds of attendees connect to the wireless network via iPads and smart devices at once. Combined with the huge volume of devices used by regular hotel guests as well as hotel staff, the total number of devices connecting at any one time can put an immense strain on the network. We needed an infrastructure that could handle the increasing volume and density of devices while delivering the consistent speed and performance that our customers and our staff expect.”
Anantara Group’s IT department, owners and other key stakeholders, conducted a thorough analysis of solutions from a number of vendors. As an IT veteran, Nair was already aware of Aruba Networks and was particularly impressed by the coverage that Aruba’s 802.11ac solution could deliver across the hotel’s guest rooms and public areas. The decision makers were also well aware of Aruba Networks’ position as one of the leading providers of 802.11ac wireless technologies.
Nair said, “While we had a pressing need for a better wireless solution, we pride ourselves on providing the very best quality of products and services. We wanted to take our time to ensure that we selected both, the highest quality and most innovative 802.11ac solution available to meet our current requirements and provide a future-ready infrastructure.”
Working directly with Aruba Networks, Desert Islands’ IT team conducted a Proof of Concept (PoC). The IT team used the PoC for a live conference with over 500 attendees successfully. While the initial time frame set for the project was two months, in order to meet the expected surge in occupancy during the 2014 Eid break, the entire deployment was completed in approximately half the time.
Graeme Kane, Sales Manager, Hospitality at Aruba Networks said, “To remain competitive, hotels in the region need to leverage a smarter, adaptive wireless network infrastructure that delivers stable, simple, smart, secure Wi-Fi access to thousands of devices at a time and supports mobile collaboration for staff. By installing the latest wireless network technologies from Aruba Networks, Anantara has demonstrated its leadership in providing an exceptional mobile experience for its guests and employees.”
In all, Anantara used a mix of Aruba Wi-Fi Access Points (APs) to cover the guest rooms and 802.11ac indoor and outdoor APs to cover the extensive public areas. To manage all of the APs across the immense property, Anantara’s IT team decided to utilise Aruba’s 7210 Mobility Controller, which is optimised for 802.11ac. The Aruba solution allowed Desert Islands to support the highest device densities and maximise Wi-Fi coverage while providing wired-like connectivity.
Aruba’s patented ClientMatchTM technology in the Mobility Controller eliminates sticky clients by continuously gathering session performance metrics from mobile devices and using this information to intelligently steer each one to the closest AP and best radio on the WLAN. Providing faster network connections for individual clients translates to better overall wireless performance.
The flexibility and high degree of control offered by the Aruba Mobility Controller have helped Desert Islands monetise its Wi-Fi network. “As Wi-Fi is now viewed as a basic amenity, we now offer all guests a free basic connection equivalent to the maximum bandwidth of our old network,” said Nair. “The controller has allowed us to implement and easily manage a tiered system providing the option for a ‘premium service’ to our guests at greater speeds for a charge. Also, the controller’s ability to centrally manage all of the APs has drastically cut down the time and effort required for administration.”
According to Nair, perhaps the most important benefit of the new Aruba network has been its ability to help his team realise the full potential of their network investments. “We are very happy with the new network’s performance. Aruba offers plenty of opportunities to grow this solution with the evolving needs of our guests and staff in order to ensure that we continue to deliver the excellent quality of service that our brand is renowned for,” concluded Nair.
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