Getting off the grid

Sunset at Casa Sandra, one of the resorts on Holbox Island, Mexico.
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Jeri Clausing
Jeri Clausing

Hotels for years have been floating ways to help guests disconnect, from those that offer to take guests' cell phones on check-in to those rare, remote resorts that offer no connectivity at all.

As the backlash against tech has intensified, the Global Wellness Institute says the biggest trend in wellness travel today is destinations that are off-the-grid or deep in nature and that focus on meaningful human community.

Protravel International also recently listed "disconnecting" at the top of the top five trends it sees in luxury travel planning.

"I'm seeing more and more clients looking to travel to disconnect from technology and the news cycle," said Marvelys Capote of Protravel International New York.

Capote said she recently sent four women to "to the little-known and incredibly tranquil" Holbox Island, Mexico, which is separated from the mainland coast by a shallow lagoon inhabited by thousands of flamingos, pelicans and other exotic birds and creatures.

"They wanted to get off the grid and connect with nature," she said. "My clients stayed at a boutique hotel without televisions, went bird-watching, fishing, swimming with whale sharks, ate great seafood and came back rejuvenated." 

The Global Wellness Institute said it expects to see more travel offerings that are explicitly about cutting digital connections, citing programs like the Digital Wellness experience at Mandarin Oriental spas, which includes a "silence ceremony" at check-in; Time to Log Off Retreats held in places like rural Puglia, Italy, where every device is turned off on arrival and guests spend their time doing yoga, meditation, cycling and walking on the beach; and Camp Grounded, a digital-free summer camp for adults in Mendocino, Calif., where activities like kickball, archery, and campfires with s'mores are meant to fill the digital void.

While noting that it named "silence" a top wellness and travel trend in 2017, the Global Wellness Institute said in its new reports "deep-in-nature destinations plus human community is the new luxury. Because when wellness destinations are completely off the grid, the disconnection feels natural."

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