Techies rejoice. Banyan Tree Samui is handing out smartphones with room keys at check in. The phones offer free and unrestricted international telephone calls and 4G Internet, as well as access to a host of resort features such as restaurant menus, daily activities and tips for sightseeing around the island of Koh Samui.
The hotel is confident the innovation will provide visitors with a greater level of comfort and security.
"Often the first thing guests want to do is call home and tell family they arrived safe and sound," says Remko Kroesen, Banyan Tree Samui's general manager. "They can do that immediately here. The last thing you want to do after a long flight is run around looking for a SIM card."
Kroesen says the most popular feature of the smartphone at the resort is the "Villa Host" function. Each guest is assigned a Villa Host, who will contact them ahead of arrival to take requests and lay the groundwork for their vacation. The Villa Host runs through the phone’s features at check-in. After, if guests need, they can call "Villa Host," for room service, housekeeping, to hire a car or even to ask for translations or local advice.
While most upscale hotels offer robust Wi-Fi networks that enable communication between a guest's own phone and the outside world, Banyan Tree Samui's smartphones enable connectivity through Wi-Fi hotspots no matter where a guest travels on the island.
"You could be in a coconut plantation or watching the sunset from a beach, and you can still take a picture and send it home," said executive assistant manager Haruethai Maneerat in a written release.
Good to know: The hotspot works in tandem with the GPS and provides a safety net for guests who might get lost exploring the island.
The Portier smartphone is user-friendly and can be programmed for English, Russian, Chinese, German or French.