AV install at Dorchester Collection hotel
Coworth Park is the newest addition to the Dorchester Collection of hotels. Anna Mitchell explores how CGA Integration sensitively handled AV integration throughout the public areas of this luxury country house hotel and spa.
As the newest addition to the Dorchester Collection portfolio, every aspect of Coworth Park had to match the standards expected of the prestigious hotel group and the AV installation was no exception. The hotel demanded quality solutions, reliable equipment and discreet integration.
The challenge of meeting these exacting standards fell to Chris Gunton’s team at CGA Integration. Gunton, managing director of the company, explains that CGA had worked with The Dorchester in the past and were employed to handle the AV installation throughout the public areas of the new hotel.
Public areas within Coworth Park comprise restaurants, event spaces and an “eco-luxury” spa. CGA implemented an integrated system with networked audio based on Electro-Voice’s IRIS-Net platform. Coworth Park has nine discrete yet linkable systems, matrixed with custom cable and aerial distribution systems.
The majority of speakers in the hotel are EV C8.2 ceiling speakers. In areas described by Gunton as “decoratively sensitive” Amina speakers were chosen. Audio can be merged to adjoining rooms to create larger spaces for bigger events and provides the hotel with a great deal of flexibility over how it uses its spaces.
Hotel staff are provided with local control and remote access allows CGA to manage the entire system as part of an ongoing service and support contract. “We can get into the network remotely and can centrally control the whole system,” said Gunton. “Because we used Netmax, Electro-Voice’s IRIS-Net platform, I can see the sound levels and the control positions. I can see if any mistakes have been made in the settings and can rectify them. I can see the amplifiers, turn them on and off, check the temperature, meter the impedance of the speaker lines and see if anything is faulty.”
The main Mansion House at Coworth Park dates back to the 17th century. The façade was carefully protected while the inside was restored. “In many ways it was like working on a new build project,” comments Gunton. “We weren’t constrained by the usual considerations that surround old buildings but we still had to be very sensitive to a design that was conscious of maintaining the feel and the air of the 17th century manor house.
“This was particularly important in the choice of speakers. Many of the speakers are plastered into the ceilings but there are places where we’ve used grill speakers because we wanted to maintain consistent sound quality in adjoining areas.”
One area of the hotel that was completely new was the Spa at Coworth Park. The purpose-built building is is partially submerged into the surrounding landscape with a “Living Roof” covered in thyme, lavender, camomile and other fragrant herbs.
Here, two eight track solutions hard drive players provide background music and are accessible across the network for update and control. Cloud Electronics Z8ii and Z4ii zoners, paging microphone, five CX-A6 amplifiers and 14 RSL6 custom finished control plates are installed to combine multiple sources, fire alarm and paging system interfacing. The independent room controls handle sound and lighting.
Ten EV EviD C8.2LP speakers were installed alongside 18 Amina AIW5X plaster-in speakers. There were even six underwater speakers supplied by the pool manufacturer. CGA noted that decorative issues and minimal ceiling voids in certain places meant both the EV ceiling speakers and the plaster in speakers were required.
In keeping with environmentally-friendly building methods, CGA used UK companies for the audio products installed and consolidated orders to minimise carbon freight cost. The company also points out that remote access reduces the carbon footprint of future support.
There are three restaurants at Coworth Park. The finedining John Campbell at Coworth Park is situated within the Mansion House and incorporates an audio system that provides, according to CGA, “exquisitely balanced delivery to every point in the room”. Gunton says: “There’s the main room of the restaurant and there’s a room called The Dessert Room which has separate volume control. They also have The Conservatory where we’ve discreetly placed Amina speakers behind wood and also provided separate volume control.
“The separate control means each of the areas can be separated for private dining or special events. Furthermore, there is a function room that adjoins the main restaurant in the other direction and, again has its own volume control. It can be used as a stand alone room, a private dining room or opened up as part of the main dining experience.” Hotel staff can control the systems via Electro-Voice programmable wall-mount controls.
EviD C8.2 ceiling speakers are used throughout these spaces, supported by Amina AIW5X speakers that are placed behind wood or plastered into ceilings. The restaurant also has Sennheiser A1031-U radio microphone aerials built into the ceiling void and CGA provided Sennheiser handheld microphones.
The kitchen and pantry areas utilise Samsung LCD monitors and a colour dome camera to make sure kitchen staff serve food at appropriate times and at the right temperature. John Campbell, who has previously been awarded two Michelin stars, is known for experimenting with the effect that temperature has on flavour so the video link is key to serving the food at the right time.
Over in The Barn, the hotel’s relaxed dining outlet, CGA has again used Amina AIW5X speakers that are plastered in to the ground floor ceiling to support eight EV S40 monitors on the mezzanine. Again Sennheiser radio microphone aerials were installed into the fabric of the building and staff were provided with two Sennheiser handheld radio microphones, rechargeable batteries, charger and charger adapter.
Also housed in The Barn area is an EV CPS8.5 power amplifier, fitted with an RCM810 remote control module, and an N8000 EV sound processor. EV PWS4 and PWS6 wall control units allow staff to manage the audio system and an eight track hard drive music player was also included in the installation.
Coworth Park also houses a suite of function rooms that has already attracted some top end corporate events. CGA once again built Sennheiser radio microphone aerials into the ceiling and in order to maintain flexibility of the events spaces the hotel has been provided with portable events gear. Three Mitsubishi projectors were selected: two EX200U models and an FL7000 including a short throw lens.
Other portable gear included a Harkness Monoblox 64 screen, two Saphire tripod screens and two EV RE90 lectern microphones. Custom made flight cases, with corporate colour and logo, were provided by 5 Star cases.
The Oval Room has four EviD C8.2 ceiling speakers and two Sennheiser radio mic aerials built into the ceiling. A Netmax TPI-12 touchpanel control screen is provided for local control and a Sentry 2 sound limiter was installed. A Signet phase adjusted induction loop was fitted for guests with hearing difficulties.
“We installed Signet phase adjusted induction loops under the floor of three events rooms,” explains Gunton. “So we laid two loops with the phase adjusted to create a very strong magnetic field within the room but no leakage outside the room or into the rooms above and below.” This was very important for confidentiality, a consideration that is paramount to many users of the event rooms.
The audio system in The Garden Room utilises 12 ceiling speakers but is largely similar to The Oval Room. This room also boasts a Mitsubishi FL7000 HD 5000 Ansi Lumens video projector. CGA fitted a Future Automation screen lift and two 3m wide 16:9 motorised projection screens. A Crestron receiver and room controller as well as remote input connection were also installed in this room as well as two custom input plates including HDMI, VGA and composite video.
“In this big events room,” comments Gunton, “they have full HD projection with the 5,000 lumens Mitsubishi projector. It provides a clear, bright image with all house lighting on full. So they can have a three metre wide, bright projected image without having to dim the lights.”
A third events room, The Oak Room, houses six EV ceiling speakers, touch panel control, radio microphone aerials, sound limiter and EV wall control. The Tower House offers a further private event space outside of the Mansion House. It can hold 40 for a sitdown dinner, 70 for a cocktail reception and 40 theatre-style. There is also a small breakout room in the turret, suitable for small meetings.
Here CGA chose to use eight EV S40 monitors and two EV EviD 12.1 bass bins. The company finished these audio elements in a custom colour so they remained unobtrusive. A Sennheiser microphone system was also implemented in this space alongside Electro-Voice amplification, processing and control. The third Signet phase adjusted induction loop system is fitted in The Tower House.
At the heart of all of Coworth Park’s systems is the central rack. Three N8000 EV sound processors and four EV CPS8.5 power amplifiers handle processing and amplification. The rack also houses 11 Sennheiser EW100 G3 radio microphone receivers. These radio microphones can be used and patched into any area desired using touch screen controls or remote dial in. Normally they are configured with two in The Drawing Room, three across Restaurant John Campbell and six, including two lapel microphones, across The Oval Room and The Garden Room.
CGA installed a Crestron DM matrix with HDMI switching and a Crestron wall-mount touch panel. Further switching is handled by Kramer. Also housed in the rack is a Grundig TV set top box and two eight track solutions hard drive players. An EV S40 is mounted in the rack as a test monitor.
“Now we’ve finished the teething period the system is not very demanding,” explains Gunton.
Any service requirements are greatly eased by the level of remote control and monitoring that Gunton has set up. “The Mitsubishi projector recently emailed me to say its been getting a bit hot,” offers Gunton as an example. “I emailed the maintenance department, said I needed to check the projector’s vents and asked them to let me know when the room was free so I could come in and have a look at it.
“To be honest though it’s a very well specified system so the failure rate is very low,” he continues. “Dorchester Collection wants quality and reliability and we have a very low failure rate with all of the projects we are involved in with the group.”
The project has clearly been important to Gunton who has been involved with it for the last three years. In fact for the last four to five months of the installation his team where based on site. “We worked from a portacabin on site,” he explains. “But it was the most lovely site I’ve ever worked on, we were right in the middle of 240 acres of landscaped Berkshire [a southern UK county] parkland.
“We had to be on site to ensure that the project was ready on time,” Gunton continues. “As each area finished we were able to install our products immediately so there was no delay. This also allowed us to supply portable PA equipment so that Coworth Park could carry out staff training in marquees on site before the hotel was completed.”
The CGA team was clearly dedicated and determined and delivered a quality installation to match this prestigious site.