Places where pleasure is the plug-in
We love our gadgets, gizmos, and high-speed connections. It is heady stuff: We sign in, link in, tweet, post, and Google. But all this technology makes it difficult to relax, especially when we are expected to be connected 24/7.
A trend is emerging to free us from this constant communication: the unplugged vacation. Many hotels and resorts are offering outdoor activities, yoga classes, and even old-fashioned board games as ways to relax. Some boast of rooms with no phones, TV, or Wi-Fi.
So step away from the keyboard. Power down your phone. At the following destinations, getting unplugged has never been easier. (Prices are for two people per night in June unless noted.)
ANSE CHASTANET BEACH, ST. LUCIA What do you call a resort that advertises “do nothing” as an activity? We call it heaven. On St. Lucia’s quiet southwestern coast, the Anse Chastanet Resort offers an old-time Caribbean experience. Air conditioning? Cable TV? You will not find them in the 49 hillside or beach-level rooms on this lush 600-acre estate. Instead, louvered windows and — in some rooms — an open-air-style missing fourth wall allow for cooling trade winds, and views of both the Petit and Gros Piton mountains. The resort borders two pristine bays, part of a marine reserve protecting miles of colorful coral reefs 10 yards beyond the water’s edge. Enjoy complimentary snorkel gear, windsurfers, kayaks, and sunfish sailing. Also available: tennis, scuba diving, hiking, and bird-watching. If you must — there’s Wi-Fi in the library. 800-223-1108, www.ansechastanet.com, from $330
SALAR DE UYUNI, BOLIVIA You have heard about ice hotels — but what about salt hotels? The Luna Salada Hotel (Salt Moon Hotel) is constructed of blocks cut from the Uyuni salt flats in southwest Bolivia. This vast salt desert, covering over 4,000 square miles at an altitude of 12,335 feet above sea level, looks something like the surface of the moon. Guests can tour the remote flats on daily excursions in 4 x 4 vehicles. The dry season, July to November, is the best time to visit. The hotel features all things salt: Sleep on a mattress on a salt block bed, dine at a salt block table. Go outside and marvel at the stars. 591-761-69888, www.lunasaladahotel.com, from $112
IVINS, UTAH Digital Detox. That is the special package offered through May 27 at the Red Mountain Resort. Amid a stunning landscape of red rock bluffs in the high desert of southwestern Utah, the resort is challenging guests to “recharge everything but their electronics.” Take one of several guided hikes, a fitness class, swim in one of two pools, and then relax with a 50-minute massage. Add-ons include mountain biking, rappelling, yoga, spa treatments, acupuncture, and workshops such as meditation, photography, pottery, nutrition, and more. The hardest task? Resisting the urge to turn on the Wi-Fi or TV in every room. 877-246-4453, www.redmountainresort.com, from $235 per person
MONTEBELLO, QUEBEC How about spending a night — or week — at one of 13 solar-powered cabins set in 65,000 acres of protected wilderness in Canada? (Or, this being Quebec, a solar-powered chalet.) At the Fairmont Kenauk at Le Château Montebello Resort, you can hunt, fish, canoe, and hike from your own secluded hideaway. Each one- to six-bedroom structure is equipped with propane lights, stove, furnace, hot water tank, and solar panels to power a high-efficiency refrigerator and water pump. There is no cellphone service or land line; guests can communicate with the entrance gate by walkie-talkie, and there is a lakeside pay phone. As a Fairmont property, the cabins have five-star chalet ratings from the Ministry of Tourism, including Le Labo toiletries, and, if you desire, a chef will prepare any fish you catch. 800-257-7544, www.fairmont.com/kenauk, from $209
CARMEL, CALIF. Play. That is what the folks at Carmel Valley Ranch want you to do. Tucked in the forests of the Santa Lucia Mountains two hours south of San Francisco, this 500-acre property was inspired by summer camp fun. In addition to fun and games you would expect, such as 18-hole golf, tennis (hard and clay courts), Pilates classes, swimming pools, and hot tubs, there is the unexpected: bocce, hilltop yoga, basketball courts, hundreds of miles of hiking trails, S’mores around fire pits every night, and a beekeeping and honey harvesting program with 60,000-plus Italian honeybees. (Don a protective suit and visit the hives.) On-site dining features seasonal farm-to-table cuisine from the ranch’s organic gardens. 831-625-9500, www.carmelvalleyranch.com, from $400
PLAYA GIGANTE, NICARAGUA Nothing says “unplugged” like a treetop villa along a private white sand beach. The Aqua Wellness Resort, on Nicaragua’s Pacific coast, is a secluded low-tech getaway with high-luxury appeal. Each villa nestled in the forest canopy features a deck with wraparound railings and a personal plunge pool. There is no TV, no phone, and negligible Internet connections. It is just you, an ocean view, and the occasional howling monkey. Venture down from your aerie to find a full-service spa, organic restaurant serving three meals a day, beachside bar, hearth oven bakery, oceanside yoga platform, swimming pool, and opportunities for sport fishing, surfing, sailing, kayaking, hiking, and wildlife tours. 917-512-3577, www.aquanicaragua.com, from $250
BOULDER, COLO. In the late 18th and early 19th centuries, a cultural movement dubbed Chautauqua swept though the United States with the goal of sharing cultural and educational experiences on a circuit of more than 12,000 sites. (Think PBS before TV.) Sprawling across 27 acres at the foot of Boulder’s Flatirons, the Colorado Chautauqua is one of a few remaining sites and still actively hosts lectures, concerts, and films while promoting the quiet, contemplative beauty of nature. Stay in one of 60 renovated cottages, originally built in the 1880s, or at the Columbine Lodge. Each cottage has a fully equipped kitchen, screened-in front porch, and is steps away from dozens of hiking trails. Advertising “serenity in lieu of televisions,” the cottages do not have TVs or phones, but are pre-wired for both. Colorado Chautauqua National Landmark, 303-952-1611, www.chautauqua.com, lodge $75-
$126; cottages $129-$316
CHEBEAGUE ISLAND, MAINE Take a ferry from Portland into Casco Bay, and watch the mainland — and the modern world — recede. With beaches nestled in coves along a rocky coastline, Chebeague offers simple pleasures in an understated New England manner. In keeping with this spirit, the Chebeague Island Inn provides classic Maine hospitality in a casually elegant setting. Perched on a cliff with the view of the bay, this restored 1920s Greek Revival-style inn promotes the unplugged life with board games, lawn games, bike rides, and nature walks around the island. Or simply sit on the porch with a good book and a pot of tea. The rooms have down bedding and Italian linens but no phones or TVs. The island has a nine-hole golf course, tennis, boating, and a clam shack serving burgers, clams, and banana splits. 207-846-5155, www.che
beagueislandinn.com from $235/shared hall bath; $355/private bath
SDE BOKER, ISRAEL The Negev is the last place you would expect to find B&B accommodations at a winery, but the Boker Valley Vineyards Farm breaks all stereotypes. It is not only a family-run organic farm with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot grapes, plus olive and pomegranate trees, it is also a perfect get-away-from-it-all desert retreat near the ancient historic Spice Trail, and a 25-mile drive from the Makhtesh Ramon Reserve, Israel’s largest national park. The farm offers three lodges and one “couple’s cabin,” supplied with linens, towels, a microwave, and refrigerator overlooking the Boker Valley. Truly off the grid, with no Wi-Fi, TV, or phones (a cell needs an international plan), it is the perfect place to relax when not exploring the area by jeep, bicycle, hiking tour, or horseback. 972-52-682-2930, www.israeldesertlodge.com, from $147
FLORIDA, MASS. Strap your mountain bike to the back of your car, pack your hiking boots, and take advantage of 50 miles of multi-use trails in the Savoy Mountain State Forest. An extension of the Green Mountains of Vermont, the park is located atop the Hoosac Mountain Range in the northern Berkshires of Western Massachusetts. You can also fish, picnic, and swim, and do not miss Tannery Falls, a 50-foot cascade to a clear pool below. Camping is an option, but those who prefer a real roof above their heads should reserve one of four log cabins overlooking the 25-acre South Pond. Each rustic cabin has a woodstove with cooking surface, bunk beds, outdoor fireplace, and they share a composting toilet. You will need to bring your own sheets, towels, and utensils. Sorry, no pets in the cabins. 413-663-8469, www.mass.gov/dcr/parks/west
ern/svym.htm, $30 a night, $210 a week
Necee Regis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.