Exceeding guest expectations at Darwin Escapes

“People no longer want to ‘get-away-from-it-all’ these days, they want to stay connected, whether this is to social media, the office or just to check local attractions online. With this in mind one of the key requirements, when away from home, is how good the WiFi is at the holiday resort. But WiFi is also vital for our staff, enabling them to communicate with each other, monitor key services, place orders and carry out myriad other key operational tasks.

“With MLR Networks’ help, we have ensured a top-quality WiFi infrastructure across each of our new-build resorts, and the same strategy will be key to our ongoing expansion.”

Phil Patterson, Head of IT at Darwin Escapes:

 

The client

Darwin Escapes currently operate 24 luxurious holiday resorts and three golf courses across the UK offering holiday breaks and holiday home ownership. A wide variety of holiday styles are accommodated, from romantic boutique escapes to luxury lodge retreats and traditional family-focused holiday resorts, all of which boast state-of-the-art and diverse accommodation and on-site facilities including spas, gyms, restaurants and activities.

The company strives to raise the standards of the UK holiday resort industry and to provide the best possible holiday experience for holidaymakers and holiday homeowners, by creating brand new resorts in stunning UK locations with accommodation and facilities that rival those of five star hotels.

The background

Fast, reliable WiFi is a critical part of the infrastructure at every Darwin Escapes resort. For the guests, it is key to the premium holiday experience; for the staff, it is key to keeping operations running smoothly.

As such, Darwin Escapes needed a reliable provider to install high-performance WiFi at all its new build resort s, in turn helping to fuel its growth plans whilst maintaining the highest levels of service. The first new build resort required was the luxury lodge complex of Rivendale Lodge Retreat in Derbyshire, quickly followed by Stratford-upon-Avon Lodge Retreat and Dundonald Links.

The solution

Darwin Escapes had worked with MLR Networks in the past at its existing resorts, with MLR Networks providing structured cabling and fibre optic installations. Now, Darwin Escapes approached us to deliver quality customer WiFi coverage to the 75 premium lodges across Rivendale, as well as corporate coverage throughout the entire resort, wherever staff were working, including maintenance staff. The approach at Rivendale was to be used as a blueprint then to be rolled out at Stratford, Dundonald Links and beyond.

The core strategy was to place WiFi transmitter nodes around the site to give all users clear connectivity – whilst also keeping the number of nodes down in order to reduce interference, boost throughput and to reduce costs. Determining the optimum number of WiFi nodes to install and exactly where to mount them for the very best coverage is a complex process, and required a series of desktop and in-person WiFi surveys at each resort.

From there, we installed a Ruckus Access Point (AP) in each of the luxury lodges, ensuring that guests would have fast and powerful WiFi for any leisure or business needs. We also installed further APs in each resort’s facilities building and other areas used by staff to ensure continuity of operations throughout. Ruckus Networks was used across all the installations.

“Its wireless access points, modules and controllers manage wireless communications and block the congestion of unwanted wireless interference in the hospitality setting very effectively,” explains Ian Morris, MLR Networks.

“The Ruckus WiFi experience is seamless as guests move across a property and its grounds. Seamlessly roaming from one access point to another.”

At each resort we also conducted a commissioning survey to ensure accurate deployment and to check signal strength throughout the resort. Once live, MLR Networks provides full support for each Darwin Escapes resort from end to end, ensuring reliability and stability. The Ruckus WiFi is managed and monitored via a controller in the cloud.

The results

At each Darwin Escapes resort, guests are now provided with WiFi login credentials on check-in. From there, they have access to powerful and reliable WiFi across their individual lodge and the entire wider site, including restaurants, bars and the main building.

Guests are able to access emails from their lodges, if required without worry, whilst children can access Netflix and Facebook across all their devices and the family can sit and stream their favourite films or TV programmes seamlessly to their smart TVs.

Meanwhile, staff throughout each resort have seamless access to the same powerful service, ensuring fast communications and smooth operations, year round

Phil Patterson, Head of IT at Darwin Escapes said: “People no longer want to ‘get-away-from-it-all’ these days, they want to stay connected, whether this is to social media, the office or just to check local attractions online. With this in mind one of the key requirements, when away from home, is how good the WiFi is at the holiday resort. But WiFi is also vital for our staff, enabling them to communicate with each other, monitor key services, place orders and carry out myriad other key operational tasks.

“With MLR Networks’ help, we have ensured a top-quality WiFi infrastructure across each of our new-build resorts, and the same strategy will be key to our ongoing expansion.”

Ian Morris said: “The hospitality and leisure industry introduces some interesting challenges as far as WiFi is concerned.  Ruckus WiFi was the perfect choice with its impressive footprint across the hospitality industry. For Darwin Escapes it was essential that the WiFi live up to the same luxury experience as the rest of the resort on the guest side. However, we also needed to enable efficient operations on the operations and corporate network side.

“And all this had to be delivered across multiple different buildings and sprawling resorts, with guests joining and leaving the WiFi network and moving seamlessly across the properties and grounds. Seamlessly switching from one access point to another.

“These three resorts are only the beginning, as Darwin Escapes looks to expand significantly over the coming years. MLR Networks will be by Darwin Escapes’ side throughout its WiFi expansion programme.”