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


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