An easy beginning

I kicked off my shoes and opened the window of my hotel room as a puff of ocean air greeted me. My handy e-Concierge in the Iberostar App had helped me to have a great welcome, and my first full day of vacation had begun. An unpacked suitcase still on the bed, a full minibar and a day of leisure ahead of me, I finally started to unplug, unwind and destress. As I closed my eyes to enjoy the silence, the vibration of my phone buzzed inside my bag. I looked at the screen, full of email notifications, and I found the strong temptation to turn it off and ignore the world. But I remembered that a smartphone can be an essential tool for holiday happiness. I lay on the bed and pondered the afternoon ahead and I decided to use my phone for good.

Nowadays technology, when it´s done right, really makes for an easier day, even a better vacation. All you need is your smartphone and internet access; that’s it. Period. Yet even though we´ve all done it, no one wants to enter a black hole of information overload on the web. I want authority in planning my trip but having a plethora of tabs open on my computer doesn’t exactly excite me; it stresses me out. The Iberostar hotel app can be perfect for the traveler who wants everything in one place, making it easy for the those who plan a minute by minute itinerary, as well as others who go with the flow at any given moment. I´m one of those go with the flow types, but I love options.

Everything at the touch of a button

I flipped through the hotel app which had already proved vital in preparing my hotel stay. Earlier in the day, while I was waiting at the airport surrounded by bustling travelers and loudspeaker announcements, I decided to don my headphones for some musical escape, and through the app I easily checked in early with a super slick Web Check-in. A few details to punch in and I had already skipped a formality that was once considered a necessary evil; freshly arrived at the hotel I strolled in the front door, skipped the line at the front desk, and picked up my key that was waiting for me. Talk about starting your vacation on the fly!

Weeks ago, when I was ready to pull the trigger and book, I did it right through the app. There I could book my stay on the spot (which happened to be while I was waiting for take-out after a particularly excruciating day at work), while getting an extra 10% off for creating an account (a time saver for later, too, as I smoothly log in on all my devices). Beyond choosing the resort itself, I had the option of bed and breakfast, half board or all-inclusive. A nice benefit of booking and paying through the app: it was a preferred rate versus paying at the hotel. Simple and easy to navigate from start to finish. In the app I found the hotel restaurants on site, complete with menus and a direct 24-hour chat line to knowledgeable hotel staff, a calendar of local events and entertainment, and even real-time service to get that bottle of cava sent to the room.

After answering some of those work emails, I got up and found the spa on my app map and was greeted with a refreshing glass of cucumber water and the soft sounds of wind chimes. Later I put on a soft robe and headed to the pool snack bar for a light bite and a swim.

 

Suddenly, I felt the urge to leave the grounds and head for an excursion. Or, at least to think about it. A chat with the e-Concierge revealed a treasure trove of insider´s info: hiking tours, a hip new restaurant getting rave reviews, a high-end wine tasting, a zoological park, surfing lessons. But the pull of more relaxation was just too strong; I opted for a cocktail and more sunbathing and decided to book a restaurant on site. I told my e-Concierge of my obsession with all things Sashimi and Niguiri, and amazingly she suggested not only a fine Japanese restaurant, but several items on the menu that I must try. Later that night, with a full stomach, I tracked down the bar for a nightcap and some lounge music.

 

A tidy farewell

After a full, sound night´s sleep, the e-Concierge once again came in handy, ironing out yet more of those small formalities. She arranged the wake-up call and scheduled a taxi pick-up, and I promised a prompt return to the resort. As I peered out the balcony window one last time, I realized my technological devices had played a different role in my short holiday: rather than be an anchor to the daily grind, they helped me get closer to the friendly hotel staff and paved the way to easy access to an array of amenities, letting me enjoy the kind of escape I needed all along.

 

LISETTE MIRANDA Y SHAWN MOKSVOLD I 11/05/2018

MAKE IT REAL NOW