Hotel guests want the assurance of total security for their valuables when not in their room, but prefer unobtrusive aesthetics when they are. How do hotels reconcile these potentially conflicting issues and what else is new in the world of room safes, asks James Stephen.

It may have been US President Abraham Lincoln who noted that: “you can please some of the people all of the time, you can please all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time”, but frankly it could have been the collective hospitality industry.

There are numerous examples of this, but social media perhaps provides some of the most updated and stark ones: no matter how swanky the establishment, for every 99 five-star reviews there’s the 100th for whom nothing was good enough. One excellent example of this is guest room safes.

While most of us want this facility, especially if we’re paying top dollar for a good room, we don’t want to see the kind of Acme Corporation monstrosities that Road Runner used to drop on Wile E. Coyote. Guests today need to know that their possessions will be safe at all times, but they also want their personal bank vault to be as unobtrusive as possible.

With the plethora of gadgets now on the market – tablets, laptops and various other devices of all shapes and sizes –providing this has become complex.

“More than ever, in-room safes are an expected amenity enabling guests to store their many devices, travel documents and other personal items,” notes Philip Toh, VP sales Asia Pacific, Safemark. “From a design perspective, front-loading safes make up approximately 80 per cent of our sales due to their versatility and finish options.”

As a global supplier with over 1.5 million installations in 80 countries, Safemark safes are used by designers, security personnel, purchasing agents and operations. The company has developed an extensive line of safes to accommodate the ever-evolving guest room, with its popular front-loading safes easily integrating in closets and with colour-matched pedestals or shelves.

Safemark safes
Safemark safe.

Safemark’s in-wall and surface mounted safes provide an alternative for properties with limited space while drawer safes are typically installed within furniture for quick and easy access.

As Safemark is one of the few suppliers to manufacture in-room safes, retaining control over product integrity, design, quality, and logistics, it is not forced to choose between security and aesthetics, adds Toh.

“We can engineer both from the initial model concept. We also work closely with industry security and design professionals throughout the development process to ensure upcoming trends are infused. This dedication to security enables us to offer a five-year manufacturer’s warranty and exclusive US$10,000 limited warranty against theft by forced entry.”

Form and function

Michele Crociani, business development manager, hospitality division, Indel B agrees that aesthetics are key and that ‘design’ safes are now often preferred to standard ones.

“Even though safes are a technologic product the trend is for more elegant design, and this is definitely an aspect the market is now considering during purchase.”

Indel B
Indel B safe.

Responding to this, Indel B has produced a new range that combines design elegance with functionality. The Top Open and Drawer models are the first safes equipped with its innovative Touch System.

“The Top Open safe allows for easy access to content and can be installed in either a pre-existing drawer or mounted flush into a countertop. Meanwhile the practical Drawer version instead displays an elegant black glass door and curved body and allows for easy access to content, integrating perfectly with the furniture and room design.”

Size matters

On the end-user side, Odette Huang, corporate director of sales and marketing for the Discovery Group in the Philippines, a member of Preferred Hotels & Resorts, says that three of their properties – Discovery Primea (Makati), Discovery Shores Boracay, and Discovery Suites Manila – use the CISA brand of safes, but would consider changing brands if more innovative models in terms of safety and security were available.

She adds that the three basics they look for in safes are “effectiveness, user friendliness and size.” Advanced features that could improve security measures are also considered.

In addition, as guests now tend to have a much wider range of electronic devices, bigger safes that can accommodate laptops and with a built-in laptop charger would be the next consideration. And as safes are used not only for gadgets and jewellery but also confidential documents, an interior light would be an asset.

“We want it to be easy to operate. We also consider the design and size of the safe. We have gone to additional lengths to provide guests with jewellery compartments to properly store and organise their high value items.

“But we have also noted that more advanced hotel safe technology is now available, such as an emergency reset code. CISA now has an audit trail, which traces the previous 300 events and stores to an SD Card. This is a good security feature that we will consider implementing.”