HI Life Hotels

True to its eco-design concept and oriented towards sustainable development, the HI Life group entrusted its communication to the VoIP specialist, innovaphone. The HI Life hotels have been representing a new idea of contemporary and environmental tourism for the past decade, based entirely on a design by the French industrial designer, Matali Crasset. On selecting innovaphone, HI Life has confided its communication to a pioneer of energy efficiency. The innovaphone solution was installed as a Centrex VoIP by the operator, VoIP telecom.

At the beginning : expensive communication between sites

A prime hotel, Hi Hotel eco spa and beach, was opened in Nice in 2003, two others followed in 2011, HI Matic in Paris and Dar HI in Nefta, Tunisia. As convinced ecologists concerned about their ecological impact, the owners of these hotels have been successful in just a few years in establishing quite a traditional hotel environment with an unusual eco-design concept which was designed entirely by French industrial designer, Matali Crasset.

HI Life states a new way of apprehending hotel projects by introducing new typologies bringing alternatives to what are usually extremely codified spaces. Each bedroom is unique, each concept offers a specific spatial arrangement to be lived in and explored. In order to optimize the management of reservations and to cut costs for communication between the group’s hotels in Nice, Paris and Tunisia, the HI Life managers were forced to look into telephone costs, which comprised relatively high bills and costs due to the geographical situation of the hotels.

Assistant managing director at HI Life, Laurence Shukor, looks back on the initial situation: ”Our main objective was to connect our three hotels, HI hotel Nice, Hi Matic Paris and Dar HI Tunisia over VoIP as well as our head office in Nice in order to reduce the group telephone bills. Conscious of our role as a pioneer, we were also looking for a communication system which would fit in with our ecological concept. The design and the energy efficiency of the innovaphone phones was approved across-the-board.” Since 2003, HI Life has had a traditional telephone contract with Orange and the hotels use a DECT system with portable telephones. Rémy Vuilleumier, technical manager at VoIP telecom recommended and installed the  innovaphone solution, he assures: “we have been working with innovaphone for some years and immediately realised the potential of the innovaphone product range for HI Life. The VoIP specialist has been making VoIP systems since 1997, both the hardware and the software and entirely non-proprietary with a pure design and excellent energy efficiency. The design IP telephone product range also won the coveted red dot design award” in 2011. For HI Life to meet innovaphone was a real stroke of luck.”


Connecting and gradual migration towards VoIP

On being asked about the length of time needed to set up the new telephone system, Laurence Shukor responded without hesitation, “The installation was fast, just a few weeks, there were no problems and absolutely no loss of communication. The only constraint was technical because we had to call our telephone cable consultant to intervene concerning the wiring. “ Henceforth, 3 sites are connected over VPN. The hotel HI hotel Nice is connected with an innovaphone IP800 VOIP gateway to an Alcatel PABX via three T0, plus one direct connection from the PABX to two T0 Orange for billing. The other two sites are interconnected via VPN and Centrex VoIP. The hotel HI Matic Paris is equipped with three innovaphone IP222 design telephones and one IP22 adapter (1 DECT) for analogue faxes. This hotel is also connected via VPN to the other two sites and Centrex VoIP. The admin offices at the head office in Nice have five IP222 design phones and one IP22 (2 DECTs) with a VPN network and Centrex VoIP. The internal number plan is homogeneous across the sites, the VoIP network manages all incoming and out-going calls via the innovaphone IP800 gateway including those for the PABX at the Nice hotel. Rémy Vuilleumier assures: “The IP800 allows up to 10 calls simultaneously as well as loop through to the existing lines. This allows smooth migration from the traditional telephone system to VoIP. Made of robust steel and with a quick cooling function, the gateways do not have any fans or other moving parts. The operating system has been reduced to a minimum, power consumption is low; these are qualities which fit perfectly to the HI Life concept.”


Ecology and design: a shared philosophy

The range of innovaphone design telephones was awarded the “red dot design award” in 2011 for aligning its modern design with innovative technology.  The HI Life hotels are equipped with innovaphone IP222 design telephones. The IP222 has a large colour high definition display as well as 12 programmable function keys. The design telephone also has excellent voice quality and energy efficiency. innovaphone is one of the first manufacturers on the market to integrate the “Energy Efficient Ethernet” standard in its products. This means the Ethernet port only uses power at the moment when it needs to transmit something. If there is nothing to transmit, the port remains in standby. The innovaphone IP222 telephone thus allows power consumption to be lowered significantly.

In conclusion, Laurence Shukor adds : “Our employees really appreciate the user-friendliness and the design of the new telephones as well as the hotline that prevents them from losing precious time if there is a problem. Communication  between the hotels is easier and less expensive, especially with Tunisia. We were looking for a state-of-the-art VoIP system which was in-keeping with our ecological concept. We never thought we would find a product with an ecological concept and design which would fit so perfectly to our own.”


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