For years, I had a happy pre-vacation ritual. I’d head to my regular Tower Records and lose myself in aisles of CDs and DVDs. After finally emerging from the store – usually with “some” purchases in hand – I’d move on to a nearby Borders where I’d go through travel books and magazines, rarely resisting the temptation to buy even more items which I clearly have no time nor space for. Then, I would head home and spend countless hours trying to compile enough mix-tapes (remember those?) and bury myself nose deep in the pages of guidebooks like Lonely Planet and Rough Guides and try to remember every Do’s and Don’ts for my upcoming destination.
However, in the last couple of years, things in the physical media world started to change. Tower Records have folded up twice over and Borders is currently resorting to opening smaller outlets here in Malaysia as a cost-saving measure. Personally, not only have I been spending more time building up a digital music library courtesy of Apple’s iTunes store (which has now rendered my CDs only slightly less quaint that LPs), I’ve also been traveling around with more digital guides. I’ve been spending my money on travel Apps the way I used to splurge on books. And you know what? There’s a whole wide world of travel apps out there (free or payable – I can’t help but feel like a kid in a candy store) to help me maneuver around any city or country around the globe like a local – and then some. Much more than any Borders can ever offer.
As a consumer of things, I’m thankful for this great digital exodus. Thanks to Steve Job’s crew, I can now put my entire – almost – CD and DVD collection onto a handy music player that also happens to be my telephone/movie player/travel guide/booking agent/internet browser/email client/camera/forex calculator/translator (it does everything except print money) too. They are such perfect travel companions to have in my pocket and I can travel freely without guilt or effort lugging many a dead tree product around. I find myself increasingly relying on them these days. I believe that more and more travel-based companies are also aware of this global trend and are moving towards this strategy.
I haven’t been traveling much recently but I can now look forward to a couple of trips for the remainder of the year. I’m very excited about them and of course, without a doubt, digital media will be a big part in making them enjoyable.
For my upcoming trip to Maldives in October, I was happy to find out that W Hotels worldwide – one of the two retreats which are hosting my stay there – has just released their very own iOS app. It may sound like they are a little late to game given how many hotels out there have their own apps, but how many can actually boast having their own exclusive access to a fully integrated music experience – definitely a first for the hotel industry. Savvy guest can access a whole list of exclusive music content curated by W’s Global Music Director, Michaelangelo L’Aqua, from DJs all over the world via a live streaming platform provided by MIX.dj. W loyalists (or W-irgins like me) can now dip our toes into various playlist created to reflect different moods, locations and spaces and immerse ourselves into the hotel’s brand of holistic lifestyle before stepping foot into any of their stylish properties worldwide. Plus, they make fabulous dinner or pool party mixes at home.
Beyond music, the W Hotels iPhone app also features:
Explore W Hotels Worldwide – Find, explore and book W hotels and retreats around the world.
Get Local – Check out the local weather, get directions or take a first look at W photos.
Get Insider Access – Find out about special events and exclusive W Happenings in each destination through the “Insider” tab on each hotel page.
But the feature I’m looking forward to use when I land in W Retreat and Spa Maldives is the Have it Delivered feature. All I have to do is tap on the “I Need” tab for immediate service on anything I wish for, 24-hours a day – a great extension of the W’s signature Whatever/Whenever service. How’s that for total awesomeness? I can’t wait.
The W iOS app also provides fashion finds, and other meaningful ideas about “what’s new and next”. And shopaholics will go into a tapping frenzy when they visit the Bring W Hotels Home tab, where they can get instant, on-the-go access to The Store (W’s take on the traditional hotel gift shop). It is exciting to see an elite hospitality brand like W Hotels embrace the digital world and new technologies in order to connect with their audience – a clear extension of the brand’s promise to offer a unique mix of cutting-edge design and passions in fashion, music and entertainment around the world.