Monday, March 04, 2013


Four Seasons Costa Rica offers a Disconnect to Reconnect programme in which hotel staff swap guests’ smartphones for a tech-free activity guide.
If you think the latest travel trend is technology-oriented, as in QR-coded destinations and podcast walking tours, think again.
As travellers grow increasingly irritated by the incessant buzzes, beeps and rings of personal devices, some destinations are trumpeting electronics-free vacations – holidays from the technology that threatens to overwhelm day-to-day life.
Whether it’s designating tech-free relaxation zones, taking away guests’ mobile phones or establishing wilderness boot camps with no wi-fi, cell phone reception or gadgets, hotels and resorts are offering a bevy of options for travellers who are eager to unplug.
Marriott and Renaissance hotels are currently testing Braincation Zones at nine of their hotels across the Caribbean and Mexico. These complementary digital detox areas allow guests to sip beverages, play board games and read, and visitors can even choose to do a tech-free, stress-free outdoor activity, such as paddle-boarding.
No surprise, it was guests who inspired the move. Marriot conducted a survey of more than 1,000 travellers and found 85% of guests have been annoyed by someone talking loudly on their cell phone, 50% reported checking emails and voicemails multiple times per day on holiday, and 31% even admitted to being tempted to throw their mobile devices into the ocean.
Where else can tech-weary travellers go to unplug?
Four Seasons Costa Rica launched a Disconnect to Reconnect programme in November 2012, in which hotel staff swap guests’ smartphones for a tech-free activity guide that lists the non-electronic things travellers can do, such as spa treatments, swimming and more.
Lake Placid Lounge in upstate New York is currently running a Check-In to Check-Out package which asks participating guests to give up all electronic devices upon arrival. The two-night package includes a cooking class, hiking, boating, yoga, fishing and a choice of any current New York Times bestseller (no, not an e-book).
Riverplace Hotel in Portland, Oregon’s Romantic Revival package has hotel staff stashing away guests’ personal electronics to provide them the opportunity to revive their relationships with a bottle of sparkling wine, local chocolate truffles, a private butler and late checkout.
The adults-only, tech-free resort of Little Palm Island Resort and Spa in the Florida Keys promises couples will have time to focus on enjoying each other – and the setting – with its TV-, radio- and alarm clock-free facility. They offer such activities as snorkelling, yoga, kayaking and paddle-boarding.
And for digital-espousers truly looking to get off the grid, The Ranch at Live Oak Malibu in California offers a “luxury boot camp” that aims to rid travellers of toxins, tech or otherwise. The property has no wi-fi or mobile phone service, and focuses on fitness and nutrition, with daily hiking and yoga sessions along with healthy vegetarian offerings.

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