While most hotels are constantly upgrading their networking infrastructure and TV connections to accommodate the latest tech devices that guests bring along when they travel, some hotels are promoting a tech-free experience where guests are encouraged to take a break from their gadgets.
Bill Foster, director of sales at Little Palm Island Resort in the Florida Keys, says turning off devices and getting away from technology provides guests with a better vacation experience. The luxury resort, owned by Noble House Hotels and Resorts, doesn’t have TVs, radios, or iPod docking stations in its guestrooms, and staff members ask guests to switch their cell phones to silent mode or turn them off completely before arriving.
“People will bring their own devices, but they are very conscious of where they’re using them,” Foster says. “You can walk around the island—all 5 acres—and you will never hear a cell phone ring.”
Daniel Sieberg, author of The Digital Diet, says it’s easy for people to become dependent on technology and place a false sense of urgency on their communications. As a TV correspondent who has reported on technology for the likes of CNN, CBS News, and ABC News, he’s seen his share of gadget heads. “The reality is that we can absolutely take a break from our devices and carry on, perhaps even stronger than before,” he says. “Doing so can result in better sleep, better time management, and improved relations with people in real life.”
Like Little Palm, other hotels have begun to offer tech-free packages or special on-property locations where people can unplug and unwind. Certain Marriott hotels in the Caribbean and Mexico feature “Braincation” zones, which function as electronics-free environments that encourage guests to play board games or read books. The Lake Placid Lodge in New York offers guests a “Check-In To Check-Out” package where guests surrender smartphones, iPads, laptops, and other electronic devices to the front-desk staff upon arrival.
“People in the industry are constantly battling with what’s too much when it comes to technology,” Foster says. “But it’s the simpler things in life that people are looking for.”