“You can’t hear me now.” Marriott tries tech free zones.

by Janice Hough on November 14, 2012


For years, the travel industry has tried to deal with an increasingly high-tech world by making it easier and easier to stay in touch while traveling.

Now, Marriott Hotels and Resorts is trying it the other way. According to Michelle Bozoki, director of marketing and e-commerce for Marriott and Renaissance Caribbean & Mexico Resorts, a survey indicated that, “Staying connected to work added to their stress while vacationing and reported instances of being annoyed by mobile device abuse such as loud cell phone conversations.”

So, starting this December, nine of the chain’s resorts will have “Braincation” zones, where cell phones and other electronic devices will not be allowed.

At this point, unlike nonsmoking rooms where violators are fined, Braincation zones will have signs indicating they are “tech-free,” but will operate on the honor system.

No doubt hairs will be split on this as to what constitutes “tech-free.” (For example, is a Kindle that has no interactive powers forbidden, or not?)

In any case, I’ve heard of hotels that offer to put a traveler’s smartphone in their safe for the duration of a stay. I’ve also talked with travelers who simply tell potential callers or emailers, “Sorry, I don’t have signal/internet coverage.”

One cheerful gentleman on a cruise told me that he really owed AT&T an apology, because he continually blamed them when it was just him choosing to be almost completely unavailable while traveling.

But, as cell coverage improves, along with WiFi, those excuses won’t be so easy to use. And, who knows whether stressed travelers will find it easier just to say, “I decided to unplug,” or, “My resort has these rules.”

It’s a two-fold issue — having connectivity and choosing whether or not to use it is MY problem, but listening to someone chatter away on a cellphone is everyone’s problem.

What do you think, Consumer Traveler readers? Do you think Marriott’s “Braincation” move will catch on? And, would you be more or less likely to vacation at a spot with a technology free zone?

Photo: Courtesy Zazzle

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  • Marilyn

    Except for needing a way to be contacted in case of dire emergency, I can see no reason for having to be connected at all times. If you are traveling to see new places and have new experiences, then do that and leave the cell phone, e-mails, etc. at home.

  • Melissa

    My favorite place to vacation is a ranch deep in the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness in Idaho (Diamond D). No cell phone service AT ALL unless you you have a satellite phone. Closest phone is an hour and half away down a pretty scary one lane dirt road through the mountains. No TV service..last time I was there they did have internet but it was so slow you’d only use it if you were truly desperate.. It’s a really liberating feeling.

  • Anonymous

    Hurricane Sandy did that all [plus more] for me :-)

  • Anonymous

    I just returned from a cruise where cell phone service was very, very limited. It was wonderful to see large groups of people not on a phone. I think Marriott’s idea is a good one. Either go on vacation or stay home. Don’t bring work with you as it disrupts not only your down time but those around you who don’t care to listen to your business calls.

  • ninas

    Can I make my reservation now. I am tired of hearing other peoples’s conversations.

  • http://www.facebook.com/hgurian1 Hal Gurian

    I wouldn’t stay there

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Edson-Portacio/100000299179024 Edson Portacio

    it’s a good idea. i don’t know id the honor system will work

  • Jean

    Sign me up right now! Go, Marriott! There is not a single person on the planet who is so important s/he can’t be “out of touch” for a while.

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