Given the news lately, the case for unplugging from our smartphones and tablets has never been stronger. While a screenless existence might not be realistic over the long run, a digital-detox vacation can offer a temporary escape from constant connectivity. For years, hotels have lured travelers with the promise of a respite from chaotic daily life.
But now they’re courting guests with full-fledged “recovery” programs that overtly address digital dependency through techniques like mindfulness meditation, short-term silence, and forest bathing.
At Mexico’s Grand Velas Riviera Maya (doubles from $868, all-inclusive), taking the plunge is an exercise in fun. Families that opt in to the four-day digital-detox program can trade in their electronics for complimentary activities like snorkeling excursions and bike tours. If those perks don’t motivate you, the resort’s rule stipulating that guests complete the four-day program before getting their devices back will.
The Blancaneaux Lodge (doubles from $289), in Belize, offers a similar incentive structure. As part of the lodge’s Family Face Time Package, travelers who check in their devices during family mealtimes will earn $10 each hour toward a purchase at the gift shop, where they can pick up souvenirs like colorful huipils and hand-carved wooden masks.
Those who are more serious about their experiment in tech-free living might consider Eremito (doubles from $420, all-inclusive), an ascetic retreat in Umbria, Italy, that’s designed to mimic the experience of living in a monastery—albeit one in the rolling hills of the Italian countryside. What the 21-room property lacks in TVs, phones, and Wi-Fi, it makes up for with its pastoral setting and spare but beautiful stone accommodations. The minimalist retreat goes even further with its well-being programming, offering meals from ingredients grown in the hotel’s organic garden, restorative treatments at the hewn-stone spa, and dinners taken in complete silence.
If you favor a more cutting-edge approach to a digital-detox vacation, a stay at the Villa Stéphanie spa resort at Brenners Park-Hotel & Spa (doubles from $765) is just the ticket. The German medical spa, which is renowned for its weight-loss and detox program, has installed an Internet “kill switch” in each of its 15 guest rooms, giving guests the option to completely disconnect during their stays. Flicking the switch activates the copper grid in the walls, which in turn blocks out 96 percent of the surrounding radio waves and Wi-Fi signals. It’s the next best thing to self-control.