Case: The Westin Peachtree Plaza

Result: Sunray provided a unique solution for this 73-story hotel in Atlanta, Georgia.

Project Overview

The Westin Peachtree Plaza was designed by renowned Atlanta architect John Portman and is the western hemisphere’s second tallest hotel. This 73-story tower is topped by the revolving Sun Dial Restaurant & Bar, and sits in the very heart of Atlanta. Connected to AmericasMart, The Westin Peachtree Plaza is steps from CNN Headquarters, Georgia Aquarium, Georgia World Congress Center and the Georgia Dome. The hotel’s 53 breakouts, totaling 80,000 square feet, provide unparalleled meeting space flexibility.

As part of a capital improvement project, the hotels IT Director sought an upgrade to the Peachtree’s guest room wireless services in 2010. Its existing equipment was not designed well, offering limited coverage, high levels of interference and severely degraded data throughput capabilities.

"Its existing equipment was not designed well, offering limited coverage, high levels of interference and severely degraded data throughput capabilities."

The Challenge

The Peachtree’s construction consists of thick layers of concrete, rebar and metal sheeting between floors and guest rooms - three items that wreak havoc on wireless signals and make installing a good WiFi network problematic and difficult to accomplish.

The hotel’s existing wireless network was a 2 year old, controller based, Cisco wireless product that was never properly designed to work around the challenges that were presented by the structure. The result was a wireless system that had many areas of weak coverage and high levels of interference in areas that did show coverage.

The hotel had three main requirements for the new wireless network:

  • Achieve 100% WiFi coverage for hotel guest internet access throughout areas identified by hotel staff
  • Ability to securely access administration resources anywhere on the guest room floors with the use of secondary SSID’s and tunneling of admin data directly back to admin resources
  • Dramatically reduce guest room connection complaints

Sunray needed to replace the entire existing infrastructure and create a wireless network that could overcome these difficult challenges.

Our Recommendations

The design Sunray settled on was one that used Ruckus ZoneFlex 7962 dual-radio 802.11n access points with a Ruckus ZoneDirector 3150 WLAN controller. Sunray engineers carefully designed the network to create overlapping areas of covereage between access points on each floor as well as from access points on floors both above and below. The strategic placement of the access points, coupled with Ruckus unique and highly effecient antenna design, allowed the wireless signal to easily penetrate the concrete and steel structure and at the same time reduce the interference that had plagued the previous system. Also, utilizing hidden guest room hallway locations, every access point could be mounted in an area that was ‘out-of-site’ producing an aesthetically pleasing installation for the hotel.

The Sunray Solution

  • Reach 100% network coverage throughout the guest rooms
  • Dramatically reduce guest complaints
  • Increase bandwidth throughput
  • Ease network monitoring and management
  • Boost network reliability and scalability
  • Improve operational flexibility

The Results

The end result was 100% 802.11a/g/n coverage in all guest rooms, common areas and pre-determined locations; terrific SNR levels and controller features that helped mitigate RF interference. With proper design and careful implementation of the controller based WiFi network, the hotel was able to meet all of their main goals.

“Low guest satisfaction scores was the main factor behind upgrading our existing Cisco WLAN network," explains Leroy Burns, IT Manager for The Westin Peachtree Plaza. "Sunray recommended, designed and implemented our new wireless infrastructure utilizing the Ruckus 802.11n WLAN solution. This new wireless infrastructure has helped us to greatly increase our overall guest satisfaction.”

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