Estate of the art

As the hotel building boom in Ireland continues, AVL Systems showed Chris Fitzsimmons around the recently completed Lyrath Estate hotel in the Republic of Ireland.

Set in the largely unspoiled countryside of Kilkenny in the Irish Republic, the Lyrath Estate Hotel is a converted 17th century manor house with extensive conferencing, spa and accommodation facilities newly attached.

Two hours south of the capital, Dublin, by road the hotel sits in 175km of parkland and is one of a crop of tens of hotels which have sprung up following the Irish Government’s tax incentives for development of the tourist industry (see InAVate April 2006).

One of the key beneficiaries of these incentives, apart from the hotel owners themselves, has been Ireland’s AV integration industry. For AVL Ireland, and sales manager Mark Fay, the Lyrath Estate project is the highlight of a large number of recently completed or soon to be finished hotel projects throughout the Republic.

A visit to the site in late October clearly demonstrated why AVL were keen to show it off and, despite the weather, the trip provided a first hand look at the kind of AV facilities that Five-Star hotels are able to offer visitors.

“AVL Systems played a crucial part in designing and implementing AV systems using some new and exciting products. AVL’s existing relationship with the client allowed them to work directly to address all of their questions and queries and ensuring the systems provided meet exactly with the clients’ high demands and expectations. We were responsible for laying out CAD files for architects, engineers, electricians and construction crew to ensure as the project developed that everything went together as planned. This included attention to each and every detail from equipment rack locations to wall plate locations for the dimming packs,” added Fay.

AVL’s involvement in the project extends from the public address and background music systems in the hotel’s public spaces, bars and restaurants, the adjoining conference spaces and also the Presidential Suite. Apart from the scale of the project, and the prestigious venue, one of the most interesting things from AVL’s point of view was that this was the first time they had employed Cat 5 cabling and video distribution for large amounts of a project’s AV infrastructure.

This has been of particular benefit in both the meeting and banqueting spaces as we’ll see later on.

The Hotel’s lobby area is modelled to represent a town street. The interior features both bare brick walls, and replica lampposts but the extremely high, glass ceiling not only adds to the sense of being outside, but also poses something of an acoustic challenge. To overcome this, instead of the regulation ceiling speakers found throughout the rest of the hotel, AVL installed EAW SMS5 surface mount loudspeakers high up in the ceiling to provide sufficient sound coverage.

The remainder of the hotel’s corridors and public spaces are served by EAW Commercial ceiling speakers. In total some 70 EAW CIS80 loudspeakers were installed in restaurants, toilets, the atrium area and lounges.

These are driven by a combination of EAW Commercial, Crest Audio and Cloud equipment. A Cloud Z8 Zoner distributes signals from the Crest CPX900 and EAW Commerical CAM Series amplifiers in combination with Cloud CLT1000 100v line transformers. Local volume control is provided by wall mounted Cloud RSL6 volume and source controls. A custom built AVL 4 zone hard drive music system provides playback for background music requirements and paging is provided by a Cloud multi-zone paging microphone system.

All standard stuff so far, the Cloud gear was chosen for its legendary reliability and the EAW selection was also a no-brainer – AVL Systems is the national distributor for the range in Ireland.

Where things start to become more interesting is the Lyrath’s multipurpose spaces. Collectively known as “The Banquetting Area” three rooms with partition walls can be broken out as individual spaces or combined to provide seating for some 1500 delegates.

Each room is provided with its own 12ft (4m) electric screen from Da-Lite and additionally, the side wall of the third room is also fitted with a 14ft model for occasions where all three rooms are combined. Each of the regular screens is served by a Hitachi CP-X505 3500 ANSI Lumens projector, fitted on a custom-built ceiling mount. The projectors are mounted very close to the front of each room and as such are fitted with Hitachi 1:1 custom lenses. The larger screen is paired with a more powerful Hitachi 4200 ANSI Lumens model and this too is fitted with a custom lens.

Audio in the rooms is provided by more ceiling speakers. However in this case Bose Model 32s are used – ten in each room. The dividable space called for a more complex control system than the rest of the hotel, therefore flexible zoning is provided by Biamp’s Nexia audio processors, which are controlled from the Cue room control system. Using the wall mounted touch panels, or the manager’s wireless panel, a room configuration can be selected. Either A or A+B or A+B+C, A+C, or any combination of the three rooms. Further Crest Audio CPX900 amplifiers are used here too.

The Cue system also governs the AV delivery systems. All of the suite’s VGA and composite video content is carried over Cat5, with sources selectable from the wall mounted touch panel. Custom-built wall plates in each room act as inputs for devices such as lap tops as and when required, however the video inputs are all RJ-45 sockets. This prevents room users from attaching unauthorised devices. In order to add another source, the user must use one of the hotel’s Kramer VGA or composite to Cat5 transmitters, plug it into the wall plate, and select the source on the Cue panel.

Kramer also provided the matrix switchers for the conference suite. A VS-88V 8x8 composite video switcher and VP-8x8 VGA / RGB switcher are mounted in the equipment room, along with Cat5 video and audio transmitters and receivers as well as Cat5 VGA and audio transmitters and receivers.

AVL Systems also supplied an LED lighting system for the banqueting suite. Each of the central ceiling bosses is fitted with over 100 Ledion LUS100 fixtures, 400 in total in all rooms. This offers the room user an almost infinite variation (16.7 million colours) in lighting colour and brightness, whether for a wedding or business conference. The lighting in each room is also controllable via the Cue system.

Mirroring the banqueting suite in arrangement are three smaller meeting rooms. They are separated by partition walls for flexibility. The meeting rooms are each equipped with a three-metre Da-Lite electric screen and a Hitachi CPX Series 2000 ANSI Lumens projector, ceiling mounted with a custom bracket.

Audio reproduction is from further EAW CIS80 recessed ceiling speakers driven by EAW CAM series 100v line amplifiers, and the same flexible zoning technique as the banqueting spaces means that the meeting rooms have their own Nexia unit in the equipment rack.

The Cue control system is slightly simpler in the small rooms, with simple push-button panels governing source selection, lighting and blind / screen operation. Cue 2G wall mounted hard button push panels are used and the same system of Cat5 AV distribution sees three more of the custom wall plates being used for additional audio or video inputs.

Mark Fay talked in more detail about the control system and use of Cat5 for AV distribution: “In a multipurpose space like the conferencing suite you can get several different users every day, none of whom will be particularly familiar with the system. It’s therefore really important to make it as simple as possible. The panels were therefore programmed with this in mind. In every case, whether it’s with the touch panels in the large rooms or the push buttons in the meeting rooms, all the source selection and audio zoning configuration is set up first. Only once the user is sure everything is set do they press the “Presentation” button. This kicks things off but dimming the lighting, lowering the screen, activating the projector and shutting the blinds. Another one touch reverses this and brings everything back to normal.

“The Cat5 distribution thing is a new one. This is the first project where we’ve used it to do almost everything and it’s been very successful. A couple of benefits stand out. Firstly its reduced the amount of cabling we’ve had to run, and therefore the cost of doing that. Secondly in this case, the racks are a longish way from the meeting rooms and by using Cat5 we’ve eliminated a lot of the signal deterioration problems you encounter using conventional distribution. Clearly its not suited to every project, but in one such as this where you’ve a lot of sources, and a good number of meeting rooms, it’s well worth the investment. This is a really good reference project for those who want to see what can be achieved using Cat5.”

Aside from the banqueting and meeting rooms. AVL Systems also installed equipment in the hotel’s health spa, including a Cloud Pumpstation 16 in the gym and further EAW CIS80 ceiling speakers. In the final phase of the project, completed only a few weeks ago, they also outfitted the Presidential Suite with a Bose Lifestyle 3.2.1 sound system in the master bedroom as well as a lighting control system.

Giles Murray, the Lyrath Hotel’s conference and banqueting manager said:
“We’re pleased with the results from AVL Systems. They’ve come up with the right solution, and have been responsive when dealing with any teething problems for a complex new system. Business has been brisk since we opened the Hotel with the conference facilities getting a great deal of use.”

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