PALM BEACH, ARUBA—Picture it: You’re on vacation in sunny Aruba, and plans for the day include laying in a cool spot under one of the resort’s palapas, the open-sided dwellings with thatched roofs seen on many beaches in the Caribbean and Mexico. Oh, but wait, now you have to stand in line for 30 minutes in the sweltering sun just to reserve one. For hotel guests, this is not an ideal way to spend a vacation but there is a solution.
At the Hyatt Regency Aruba Resort, Spa & Casino, the recently launched iPalapa app was born out of a huge need to provide more options to guests who wish to reserve one of the property’s palapas. Currently, there are 108 palapas at the resort, which sits on 12 acres of beachfront on Aruba’s Palm Beach.
“As with most islands, shade is a coveted space,” said Julian Tucker, rooms director, Hyatt Regency Aruba Resort, Spa & Casino. “We were looking for a way to provide a different experience for our guests other than the typical 6 a.m. lineup seen at many beachfront resorts, all with the goal of getting that prime location.”
Toward this effort, the Hyatt Regency Aruba’s team worked closely with iPalapa Corporation CEO Shawn Tarter, who went to Aruba numerous times to witness the app in action and made changes to the service as needed. The result is a customized online tool designed to make reserving a palapa a more fluid transaction for guests without the hassle of a long wait or missed opportunity.
Here’s how it works: “Each day at 4 p.m., guests can log on to hyattbeachservices.com from their mobile device or tablet and book a shade option for the following day. The iPalapa system is completely outfitted with a map of our beach and details each palapa’s location. Guests can select an available shade option, get a confirmed notification and acknowledge that they will have to check in by 10 a.m. the following day via the app,” explained Tucker.
Securing a palapa via a mobile device is just one option. Guests can also email the recreation managers to reserve one for a fee, which can be done up to a year in advance, according to the company. For guests choosing to go unplugged while on vacation, they can sign up in person with a staff member at 7:30 a.m. at the towel stand.
Providing a beach service with a technology feature to enhance the guest experience was a no-brainer for the resort. “In an age where many travelers are looking to their technology for a seamless travel experience, we wanted to capitalize on this growing trend by offering something unique and easy to utilize,” Tucker said.
In terms of shade and accessibility, the team at Hyatt Regency Aruba is confident this app will be a game-changer. Since its inception, the hotel has had more than 500 guests log in to use the mobile app. “While still new, we believe this new app allows us to lead the industry with new technology and gives us a step up on our competition,” he said.