Should you give up tech on your vacation? Two hotels offer competing visions

In this tech-driven era, vacation-goers seem to fall into two camps: digital-detox types, who use their precious few vacation days to spend time away from the internet, and tech lovers, who think vacations don’t count if you can’t post about them on Instagram. Fortunately, two new hotel programs have been designed to serve these contrasting needs.

If you fall into the digital detox camp, Wyndham Grand is willing to make it worth your money. On Feb. 23, the hotel chain is launching a pilot program in five of its hotels (Chicago, Clearwater, Orlando, Galveston, and Charleston) that gives guests a discount on their hotel bill–but only if they’re willing to give up their devices. The hotel decided to offer the program when it noticed that it needed more poolside chairs because kids wanted to sit with their iPads instead of swim. To change that, it is offering guests willing to put their phones in a lockbox access to special amenities like an architect-designed in-room blanket fort and Instax cameras–and 5% off the standard room rate for families.

If you’re like me, though, phones disappear only when the cost of international Reddit browsing becomes too pricey. On the flip side of Wyndham Grand is the Banyan Tree Samui, on Thailand’s Koh Samui, which is handing out smartphones with room keys at check in, complete with access to free and unrestricted international telephone calls and 4G Internet. Thanks to Wi-Fi hotspots around the island, guests can surf the Web, post #humblebrags on Instagram, and access resort features.

As Remko Kroesen, Banyan Tree Samui’s general manager, says: “The last thing you want to do after a long flight is run around looking for a SIM card.” Amen to that.


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