Should we still be embracing the digital detox?
Luxury tour brand Yonder says it's time to unplug – and reconnect
The digital detox was one of the true buzzwords of travel in 2018, with resorts around the globe offering retreats to soothe the soul by eschewing social media. For many, these mind-body-soul retreats were too often combined with calorie-counting wellness resorts, where pre-dawn yoga lessons abound and, much like the menus, it all smacked a bit too much of cold turkey.
Yet with the likes of director Steven Spielberg and interior designer Kelly Hoppen embracing the transformative power of disconnecting while on their respective family holidays, it's clear that this trend is still on the rise for business leaders. But in a world that relies so heavily on mobile phones and email to stay connected to our loved ones and business partners, how does one embrace the digital ban without accidentally plugging into extra anxiety?
Nico Kostich, who founded luxury tour brand Yonder in 2017, says the key to surviving – and even enjoying – your digital detox is a matter of shifting your focus.
"Technology is inescapable in our daily lives; we are all armed with smart phones and laptops and, even when we are not working, we are communicating with friends and family using these devices. It's all consuming," he tells Tempus. "As a result, successful people are increasingly wanting to go on holiday to remove themselves from the fast pace and stresses of daily life, to be able to focus on themselves and immerse themselves in a destination."
"It's now more or less universally accepted that there are a number of downsides to spending our lives glued to our screens," he says. "That's why we have a number of destinations and hotels that are so remote and idyllic that there are no mobile phone signals or Wi-Fi at all!" >>
Kostich's most technologically remote destinations include boutique properties in Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Thailand and Malaysia. "Our experience shows that immersive experiences away from the humdrum of daily life are incredibly rejuvenating. By avoiding all things digital, we immediately slow life down and allow more time to focus on ourselves and our environment," he says.
"If our guests still want the peace of mind that they can get in touch with the world on occasion, my top tip – and what I do – is to put my phone or laptop in the safe," he advises to those wary of signing off completely. "This means that these devices are not actually at hand and a conscious effort is required to go to the safe, punch the code in and take it out. It makes you think twice about whether it's really necessary to make that call or send that email.
Kostich says one of the best ways to keep yourself un-tempted by technology is to choose a destination rich in activity and scenery alike. "I love the far flung Andaman and Nicobar Islands off the east coast of India. They are about as remote and detached as you can get," he says.
"The beaches are superb and the boutique hotels that Yonder offers, such as the eco lodge Jalakara and Barefoot at Havelock, have fantastic fresh organic cuisine for a seriously ‘clean’ break. Our 'Islands and Tigers' itinerary is an enduring favourite," he says. >>
"I'm also a complete sucker for Sri Lanka, but tech-detox here requires a little more will power, as the island's connectivity is pretty good on the whole. We feature a number of sensational boutique hotels and have developed a portfolio of exciting experiential itineraries for clients to explore the world and embrace a little digital detox if they wish."
Yonder's specialisation in hand-picked boutique hotels means they regularly cater to high net worths seeking tailor-made trips to a unique spec. To make sure they meet that expectation, Kostich and his team individually asses each venue within the brand's portfolio.
"Our guests are looking for an intimate atmosphere, total privacy and a unique experience. Success sits in the detail," he says. "Our clients want to rub shoulders with like-minded people, and superb service and fabulous food should be a given."