During my recent stay at the Holiday Inn in Singapore, I realized that I had access to a free local mobile phone called Handy. This was amazing because this phone gave me access to free mobile internet while I was on the road and allowed me to make unlimited free local and international calls, including calls to India. For no extra cost apart from the room rate.
While I’ve only seen these phones placed in my room in Singapore and Hong Kong, a look at the Handy website tells me that they also offer the same proposition across various cities across world, including Rome, Paris, Dubai, Istanbul, Vienna, Prague, Bangkok, Los Angeles, Milan and New York. Here is the Handy phone me & Ajay had access to when we stayed at the InterContinental Grand Stanford in Hong Kong earlier this year.
The Handy proposition is that hotels provide its guests access to a free mobile phone during their stay period. The hotels pay a subscription fee to furnish their rooms with this device and you get to carry a Handy phone for free just by staying at the hotel. Handy is available across 16 hotel brands. Handy phones run on customized Android application and give the user access to unlimited mobile data. My Handy in Singapore had access to 3G data. The phone came with Google maps installed which I found very helpful while navigating around the city.
In addition to this there is a mini city and restaurant guide with listings of places to visit. I also found restaurant deals and discounts around me.
I used my Handy phone all the time to look at local eateries around me and to navigate from the MRT station back to the hotel. And I never had to worry about using my expensive roaming data or waste time trying connecting to free wi-fi spots in the shopping malls or coffee shops.
And here is the best part about this device. Every handy phone has a local number assigned to it which you can share and hence receive free incoming calls. Not only this but you can also use your handy to make free local calls and unlimited international calls for up to 10 countries including USA, China and India. I spoke to my family in India every day at zero cost.
While the battery life is not great given these are not top end phones, (my fully charged device would drain out in 4-5 hours), and you are navigating on a functional 3G speed, I was happy that I had access to free data and free calls to India.
The phone resets on your check-out, so you don’t have to worry about your contacts or phone numbers inadvertently going out to another person as well. And while some of the early adaptors of the proposition may still have older phones with 3G, I hear all the time that newer phones running 4G are also available at some hotels which offer the Handy phones.
Given how dependent we are on our phones now, I can’t really explain the freedom and convenience that one of these in your hotel room can mean to you, like it did to me. Imagine not having to worry about the gigantic phone bill you will run up every time you wanted to browse Facebook or post your pictures with the Merlion, or in my case, put it on an expense report and explain the bill to my boss!
Have you had a chance to use Handy before? Do you think it adds to your hotel experience?
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Experienced this at the Holiday Inn Orchard in Singapore in August. Its very helpful.
I totally agree with the title; single best hotel amenity innovation in the past few years.
When I used it a year or so ago at IC Grand Stamford and at IC HK, I raved about it to my colleagues and suggested that they pick the hotel as stay choice just for this amenity. Gauess it’s become more de rigeur nowadays.
I also noticed that each hotel had a different set of free countries that could be called depending on client nationalities that frequent that said property. Good degree of customization that they achieved.
I love Handy! I’ve used it at the Grand Stanford and Hyatt Regency TST in HK. By the way, it also can be used as a wifi hotspot, so you can connect your personal phone while you’re out and about.
Yes! This was the best part of the Handy for me. I used one in HK earlier this year and we were traveling in a group, so we could alternate the wifi hotspot access so that everyone could use their personal phones throughout the day. Was able to use voip/email to stay in touch with family in the states.
Wow. This is brilliant. I wish this was there when we stayed at the Intercontinental Grand Stanford a few years back. The only time we experienced this was in Cambodia , where they provided us with a pretty basic phone ( for calls only ). But , nothing compares to ‘Handy’. Thanks for sharing.