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Deer Path Inn

Technology Meets Turn-of-the-Century Inn

The Deer Path Inn, built at the turn of the century, was later moved to its current Lake Forest location the same year the stock market crashed. The timing didn’t impede the success of the English Tudor-style luxury boutique hotel. With impressive stone walls and great oak beams, the inn survived the Depression, a fire that ravaged its third floor, and multiple recessions, becoming a historic fixture frequented by big name stars such as Bill Murray, John Cleese and the Beach Boys.

None of its past guests, however famous, could have imagined the future: wireless microphones, an IP audio system (IP stands for Internet Protocol; here, it refers to music streamed through the Internet via apps like Pandora or Spotify) that plays music customized by room theme, and remote control access to a high-end security and sound system via tablet technology. Hotel managers with access rights can change the music in any room or view camera footage of various areas – all while drinking tea in Deer Path Inn’s English garden or even as far away as Buckingham Palace.

In late 2013, a group of investors bought the property. Since then, they have spent $40 million gutting all three floors (54 rooms and three meeting rooms) down to the rafters and rebuilding the historic landmark from the inside out. For Low Voltage Solutions, it was a “very fast-paced job” according to LVS Senior Project Manager Don Ryan. The project began at the end of June. Work had to be completed in time for the chef to serve Thanksgiving dinner. What typically would have required12 to 18 months was reduced to five. The LVS crew worked seven days a week, 12 hours a day alongside other trades. “Everybody was stepping on top of each other,” said Ryan. “It was an interesting challenge for everybody.”

Modernizing existing architecture is never easy, but a National Historic Landmark (the hotel was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1992) can present an even greater challenge. LVS designed and installed a fire alarm system, voice/data/video, CCTV, high-end audio-visual system, door intercom, security camera system, telephone systems and wireless access points.

Most impressive, however, was the custom-designed IP audio-visual system designed by LVS’ IP technicians, audio-visual experts and programmers. Through Internet radio, different music may be chosen for meeting rooms, the wine room, the pub, dining room and banquet rooms, and even the outdoor courtyard. Computer devices on TV carts connect to any network port, including speakers and television screens, using hardware and applications that distribute sound and visuals through the IP network. iPads are connected to Deer Path Inn’s video management system. Access rights are granted to designated managers.

“We could have one station on in the restaurant, one in the lobby and one in the pub,” said Ryan. “The customer said, ‘This is what we want’ so we made it happen. We’re always going to strive for that. We even put their logo on the iPads for them. It was pretty cool. Details are important. People dig it.” The project was the first of its kind for LVS.

Deer Path Inn’s project specifications reflect a growing trend toward integrating the Internet into the network planning. “If you have an IP camera, you can view video footage from anywhere in the world. The general manager at the hotel can make a change from his home or in the car. It’s remote control from anywhere.” Ryan added that, while some general contractors might have to hire several firms to get a project like this done, LVS had the expertise needed in-house.

“Everything’s going IP; it’s the global platform for technology. As times change, so do we,” said Ryan.

Learn more about networking historical buildings. Contact Don Ryan, LVS senior project manager, at 630-434-9600, ext. 213 or email him.