Can you take a vacation from your cellphone? A growing number of hotels will help you find out.
Some resorts are offering perks, like snorkeling tours and s’mores, to guests who manage to give up their cellphones for a few hours. Some have phone-free hours at their pools; others are banning distracting devices from public places altogether.
Hotels that limit cellphone use risk losing valuable exposure on Instagram or Facebook, but they have said that the policies reflect their mission of promoting wellness and relaxation.
And, of course, they hope that happily unplugged guests will return for future visits.
“Everyone wants to be able to disconnect. They just need a little courage,” Wyndham Hotels & Resorts Inc chief marketing officer Lisa Checchio said.
People’s inability to disconnect is an increasingly serious issue.
Half of smartphone users spend between three and seven hours per day on their mobile devices, a global survey by technology consulting firm Counterpoint Research found last year.
In a separate study by the nonprofit Common Sense Media, 69 percent of parents and 78 percent of teens said that they checked their devices at least hourly.
Wyndham knew it had a problem when hotel managers requested more beach chairs to accommodate all the people who would sit in them and stare at their smartphones. It discovered that the average resort guest was carrying three devices and checking them once every 12 minutes — or about 80 times per day.
On Oct. 1, Wyndham Grand’s five US resorts began offering prime spots by the pool, free snacks and the chance to win return visits when guests put their smartphone in a soft, locked pouch. The devices stay with the guests, but only hotel staff can unlock the pouches.
Wyndham said that 250 people have used the pouches so far at resorts in Florida and Texas.
The program is next year to be found at more Wyndham hotels.
Wyndham Grand resorts also give families a 5 percent discount on their stay if they put their smartphones in a timed lockbox. The hotel provides supplies for a pillow fort, s’mores, a bedtime book and an instant camera for adults and kids who do not know what to do with all the newfound time on their hands.
That appealed to Matthew Cannata, head of public relations for the New Britain, Connecticut, school district. He worries about the impact of technology on his two young children and he tries to keep devices out of sight during family meals.
“Any chance I can get to put the phone away is great. Sometimes, people need to be forced to do things to start a thought process and then create a habit,” he said.
At the Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit in Mexico, a so-called “detox concierge” will “cleanse” your suite of all electronic devices and replace them with games like Jenga and chess.
Guests at its sister resort, the Grand Velas Riviera Maya, trade in their smartphones for a bracelet that gives them free access to activities like snorkeling; they must do at least four activities to earn back their devices. A timer placed in the lobby shows how long each family has lasted without their devices.
Emily Evans liked the idea of rewarding people for putting their smartphones away. A senior at Eastern Kentucky University, she said that she barely keeps her smartphone charged while on vacation, but her girlfriend is constantly checking her cellphone.
“I feel most millennials would choose discounts and saving money over having their phone out to Instagram and Snapchat pictures of their meals,” Evans said.
At Miraval, a Hyatt Hotels Corp-owned resort in Arizona, the emphasis is less on family time than on mindfulness and tranquility. Miraval, which is soon to open two more resorts in Texas and Massachusetts, bans smartphone use in most public areas.
Guests are encouraged to tuck their smartphones into soft cotton bags and leave them on small wooden beds in their rooms. Staff wear name tags with gentle reminders that guests should unplug and “be present.”
Some resorts encourage a total ban.
Wilderness Resorts, an African safari operator, intentionally provides no Wi-Fi at many of its camps.
Adrere Amellal, a 40-room hotel at the Siwa Oasis in Egypt, lets guests have smartphones in their rooms, but there is no electricity or Wi-Fi.
Not all vacationers want to be weaned from their devices. Smartphones double as cameras, music players, travel guides and e-readers. They also might be critical in an emergency.
AARP Florida communications manager David Bruns uses two cellphones. He tries not to check his work phone after hours, but he carries his personal phone everywhere.
“I don’t think I would like being made to put the thing down,” Bruns said. “It feels like that is more about me being told what to do by people I am paying to do something for me.”
Ayana Resort and Spa in Bali, Indonesia, understands that, so it tries to meet guests halfway. Its winding River Pool bans smartphones between 9am and 5pm, but it invites guests to take photographs and post away to social media before and after those times.
STEPPING UP: The firm has also asked employees to work in split shifts from this week and to halt all but essential overseas business travel from next month Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC, 台積電) has implemented a remote work policy for employees not on production lines in an attempt to curb the spread of COVID-19, the world’s largest contract chipmaker said yesterday. This is the first time in the Hsinchu-based company’s history that it has launched a large-scale remote work policy, joining global technology companies, such as Apple Inc and Google, that encourage employees to work from home. The chipmaker has also asked employees to work in split shifts from this week, it said. As the number of virus infections continues to climb worldwide, TSMC has urged employees to halt unnecessary
Manufacturers are on a mission to produce desperately needed medical ventilators for the COVID-19 pandemic, even if it means converting assembly lines now making auto parts. Along with a shortage of masks and gloves, the spread of COVID-19 to almost every corner of the globe has highlighted a great need for specialized machines that help keep severely afflicted patients alive. “As the global pandemic evolves, there is unprecedented demand for medical equipment, including ventilators,” GE Healthcare chief executive officer Kieran Murphy said. The group has hired more workers and is making ventilators around the clock. Swedish group Getinge AB is also ramping up output
Facing the rapidly evolving global COVID-19 pandemic, Citibank Taiwan Ltd (台灣花旗) has proactively taken precautionary measures. “The health and safety of our colleagues and their families, as well as our clients and the communities we serve, are of the utmost importance. We continue to take proactive measures to preserve their well-being while we maintain our ability to serve our clients,” Citibank Taiwan chairman Paulus Mok (莫兆鴻) said in a statement yesterday. “We have local and regional contingency plans in place, and we have well-established business continuity plans for the firm. We are monitoring the situation closely, adjusting our operations accordingly,
GoShare, an electric scooter sharing service provider with Gogoro Inc (睿能創意), plans to expand to Tainan next quarter in a strategic alliance with Aeon Motor Co (宏佳騰). The company currently offers its services in Taipei and Taoyuan. “Tainan is very popular among tourists. The city receives an average of 22.94 million tourists every year,” GoShare head Henry Chiang (姜家煒) told a news conference yesterday in Taipei, citing Tourism Bureau statistics. “Besides, the city has a long history of riding scooters,” he said. Each household owns an average of 2.5 scooters, he added. “Expanding presence” is one of four strategies GoShare is adopting for this