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The ability to make reservations or get property information on a hotel app is old news. But several hotel brands have added unique services to their apps, providing new options that can help tech-savvy travelers get more from their vacation before, during and after a trip.
This year, Grand Fiesta Americana Coral Beach Cancun unveiled what it calls an “e-concierge” app, which provides a variety of features designed to enrich the guest experience after arrival. Travelers can use the app to reserve activities and services that range from airport transfers and restaurant reservations to spa treatments. Guests can also find out about special events at the Cancun property and use an official resort hashtag to post photos and other content through the app to Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. Travelers who are visiting as part of a special group gathering — such as weddings or conferences — can also receive real-time alerts about event schedules and itinerary changes.
Those staying at several AMResorts properties — including Secrets, Dreams and Now — won’t have to worry about paying for roaming charges or long-distance phone calls when they download the company’s Unlimited Connectivity app, which allows for free calls from Mexico to the U.S. and Canada, as well as to local land lines. Through the app, users can also check messages, email and surf the web. In addition, the app provides the ability to reserve spa appointments, dining times, transportation and local excursions, as well as to contact hotel staff and make service requests. Unlimited Connectivity is also equipped with information such as resort maps, restaurant opening hours and menus, facility schedules and activities calendars.
Several large international brands offer unique features via their apps, which can work well for Mexico vacations. Marriott International, for example, stocks its app with city guides for a variety of destinations. The app from Starwood’s W Hotels Worldwide brand features a link to a “W Insider,” an on-site person who serves as the local expert for all that is hip and noteworthy in each destination, as well as a link to each property’s Twitter account for direct messaging. Guests can check out special events at W Mexico City and the just-opened W Punta de Mita. And thanks to streaming music mixes, courtesy of hotel DJs around the world, travelers can bring a bit of W-style cool wherever they go.
W Mexico City is also one of the few properties in Starwood’s Mexico portfolio at which clients can use the Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) app for keyless room entry; the others are Aloft Cancun and Aloft Guadalajara. To use this feature, travelers register their phone to receive a push notification when an upcoming stay is compatible with the SPG Keyless function; if so, the guest receives another notification with their room number so that they can unlock the door using their device when they arrive.
The Ritz-Carlton Hotels Company’ app, meanwhile, promises another type of unlocking — specifically, the ability to “unlock” experiences and stories at its hotels in Cancun and Los Cabos, with a built-in QR code scanner that provides travel tips and background information about the property and the destination. Guests can also create vintage-style “travel posters,” complete with retro-hip graphics, from photos on their devices.
Travelers looking to brush up on their Spanish while in Mexico might want to check out InterContinental Hotels Group’s (IHG) app, IHG Translator, which functions separately from its standard hotel app. Designed to help guests navigate in a variety of foreign languages including Spanish, the app does voice translations, allowing users to speak into their device in English and hear the translation in Spanish. The free version of the app, available to all IHG Rewards Club members, includes more than 40 common phrases in each language, plus a free audio lesson and access to a cultural guide and other travel tools. Even more features are available for free for Platinum Elite and Ambassador members, and for Club and Gold Elite members with special access.
Grand Fiesta Americana Coral Beach Cancun www.grandfiestamericana.com
Marriott International www.marriott.com
The Ritz-Carlton Hotels Companywww.ritzcarlton.com
W Hotels Worldwide www.starwoodhotels.com