Imagine it’s dark and, after pulling up to your cozy vacation rental that’s snuggled between snowy ski-sloped mountains, you realize you’re not sure which condo is yours. Now imagine being able to pull out your smartphone and turn on the outdoor lights of the home to find your way. This exact scenario played out at Waterville Valley Resort in New Hampshire, where enterprising ELAN integrator and condo owner Joe Colangelo of C&T Electric discovered how home automation made a rental unit an exciting part of the travel experience, especially to guests using it for the first time.
“Specific technologies like multi-room audio and centralized lighting control are beginning to make their way into the average American’s home life, but most people still haven’t experienced full home automation,” said Colangelo. “Even in luxurious rental accommodations, high-tech accents that can simplify and improve the guest experience are extremely rare. In 2016, I bought a condo at Waterville Valley to share with family, friends, coworkers and repeat clients, and I wanted to see how a full ELAN home automation system might improve their stay and instill the benefits of the technology.”
The backbone of the system is an ELAN gSC2 home controller, which ties all the disparate systems together so they can be controlled from a single interface.Niles outdoor rock speakers provide a second, separate audio zone on the rear patio, while the Sunfire Cinema Ribbon surround speakers and a Sunfiresubwoofer provide an unmatched movie watching and music listening experience in the living room. Lighting is controlled through a Lutron RadioRa2 system with keypads throughout the condo, and all of the equipment is protected by a Panamax M4000-PRO surge protector and power conditioner with BlueBOLT remote energy management.
More than just a convenient way to locate the condo, the system is an integral part of the guest experience, allowing them to control the thermostat, motorized window shades, lights, TV and music, and even view the exterior security camera feed, all from the ELAN App.
In a town like Waterville Valley, where many people own condos as rental properties, ensuring guests have a pleasant stay and leave good reviews is paramount. After seeing how much his house guests enjoy sophisticated home control, and how easy it is for anyone to use, Colangelo is hoping to convince other local owners that there is immense value in making modest upgrades to bring their rental properties into the 21st century.
“For the most part, these prized vacation properties haven’t changed much since they were built in the 80’s and 90’s,” Colangelo said. “They might have a new TV, but they are largely behind the times when it comes to novel home technologies. My condo, on the other hand, allows guests to wake up say, ‘Alexa, open the window shades,’ to get a fantastic view of sunrise over the mountains, or ‘Alexa, turn off the lights’ when they go to bed.
“They can use the ELAN smartphone app to check the security camera and see if it’s snowing before they arrive, to adjust the temperature before they return for the night, and to control the TV or audio system. All of that can also be done through the Amazon Alexa device we have in the living room. People around here think we’re the Jetsons because it’s all so new to them, and it turns out these capabilities are a powerful bonus for guests who want a simple stay.”
Colangelo believes this in an untapped home improvement market and way to differentiate rental properties, one mainly caused by lack of experience and knowledge about the value of systems integration and home control. “The hands-on experience of home control is so fun and simple, everyone who tries it loves it,” he added. “And it’s not just benefits for guests, either. My remote access allows me to check in on my condo if I need to.”
The unit includes a surveillance camera outside pointing toward the mountains, and another indoors that includes a “privacy” button guests can use to deactivate the indoor camera while they’re inside. And when they leave and new guests are scheduled, all Colangelo has to do is change the remote login password and share it with the new guests. The real test, according to Colangelo, is how easily guests can dive in to using the ELAN system without anyone on site to show them how to use it. Someone at C&T usually takes 5 to 10 minutes to guide guests through the mobile app after they download it, and that’s all it takes.
“It becomes second nature pretty quickly, and anyone who has used a smartphone before has no problem using the full functions of the ELAN system,” he said. “I really want this condo to be fun, exciting, and most of all, relaxing. That’s why I installed a top-shelf entertainment system with a 49” Sony Bravia TV, Sunfire surround sound, Apple TV, and a classic Super Nintendo console for nostalgia and family fun. When you can basically control the whole room from the couch with your voice, it’s just a cool feeling.”
In addition to the ELAN mobile app and Alexa, guests can also manage the home’s systems through a wall-mounted ELAN gTP7 touch screen in the dining area. Colangelo says this installation can be expanded in the future to include wireless multi-room audio. The ELAN system’s expandability and upgradeability make it a good choice for owners that want to incorporate the next big thing and provide the latest services to guests.
“There are towns like this all over the country, and as people become more comfortable and reliant on integrated home technologies, they will come to expect at least basic home control when they travel,” Colangelo concluded.