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Digital Detox Vacation: For Those Who Have Everything — Except Willpower

Tech addiction is real, folks. But for the right price, you can disconnect in style. (adifansnet/flickr)MoreCloseclosemore
Tech addiction is real, folks. But for the right price, you can disconnect in style. (adifansnet/flickr)

I just sat down to catch up on my essential reading. As one does. And the first scholarly treatise grabbing my attention belongs to "Luxury Travel Magazine — Inspiration for Discerning Travelers."

At a resort hotel in Mexico, the big attraction is a new Digital Detox Concierge.

There are those who could see such words, yawn, and move on. I am not one of those people.

What separates Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit from the digital detox pack? Simple. Meet their Detox Concierge. When guests arrive at the resort, the concierge is tasked with the all-important duty of “cleansing” their suite by removing the flat screen television from the room, replacing it with classic board games and then whisking away their personal electronic devices (phone, laptop, iPad, PSP, etc.) to a safe.

For starters, this is not a joke? This is serious? Detox Concierge? Cleansing? Whisking away to a safe? Surely this is satire, and we can agree it’s a tad… obvious?

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That would be No. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. And stop calling me Surely.

Furthermore: there is a digital detox “pack?” From which this Concierge serves as the separation? Who knew? Clearly, I missed the memo on hospitality trends. A quick check online — at my quaint immobile computer machine — reveals that a few years ago, high-end hotels began offering customers what we might call the Gwyneth Paltrow treatment: conscious uncoupling. If you fork over enough for that upscale suite, and you say pretty please, then the hotel will create the conditions for you to go full Amish.

Thus, as if we needed it, we are treated to a nice big picture window into how the other half 1 percent live. When you're rich enough, you beg hotels to cut your electronic umbilical cord, and you think it's a perk. As the magazine explains, the digital detox program frees guests from the "minute-to-minute stresses associated with technology."

Fundamentally, it comes to this -- people with enough wealth to buy all the tools and toys, and pay for international vacations at beach resorts ... do not have the self-discipline to turn off a doohickey.

Oy, such stresses, every 60 seconds, even. The hardships, they are legion.

Fundamentally, it comes to this — people with enough wealth to buy all the tools and toys, and pay for international vacations at beach resorts costing $355 per person per night, do not have the self-discipline to turn off a doohickey.

I realize I'm not the target audience.

First, there's the money thing. Once, I did have the kind of cash both for that sort of holiday, and for the latest and greatest in newfangled contraptions. And then I woke up.

Plus, I'm a quasi-neo-luddite. Of course I believe in the power and glory of technology that performs vital work unimaginable five minutes ago, which technology provides us all with fresh fodder for fighting over hell and handbaskets. But thanks to a combo of my old-fashioned whims and my stingy nature, I abstain.

Let's just say, if I were a Barbie, then my accessories would not include a pink laptop computer, tablet, smartphone, gaming console or mp3 player. In fact, I never even owned a Walkman. (The only portable tunes device in my past? That brown plastic record-player with a carry handle that as a little squirt I lugged between my big brothers' rooms, the better to annoy them both while we spun the comic stylings of George Carlin.)

When the beach just won't do, why not try digital detox camping? (davitydave/flickr)
When the beach just won't do, why not try digital detox camping? (davitydave/flickr)

So, being as this isn’t my milieu, it might seem unfair to cast aspersions. But all’s fair in love and preposterous social customs. Hotel chains tend not to waste energy luring clientele with special attractions that don’t bring in the bucks. So the very idea that this trend is out there and growing strikes me as deliciously idiotic. People who have it all — except willpower — also don’t seem to have the brains they were born with. Random hotel workers to the rescue, please, to save the  privileged from themselves!

Oh, and have I mentioned? When digital-detoxing guests surrender their precious bodily devices, they receive bracelets that give them access to activities such as riding bikes, snorkeling and — because  it’s all about wholesome family fun — getting facials. When they earn four bracelets, they can re-unite with their electronic stash. Phew! And ... for the win:

In addition to the bracelets, couples and families will be sporting a t-shirt that reads: “We are digital detoxing,” and will have a timer placed in the lobby that features the family’s last name and the time that they have already detoxed.

What I wouldn’t give to be a fly on the wall as the 12-year-old is commanded to put on that damned shirt, right now, or we'll give you something to cry about.

the very idea that this trend is out there and growing strikes me as deliciously idiotic.

But hey, it takes all kinds.  Why disparage people who at least are trying to make some changes and improve their lives? My beef is not really with the customers, easy targets though they may be, but with the hotels. Because people fighting for their lives against actual addictions to drugs and alcohol go through detox — if they can find a space and if they can deal with the associated brutal challenges, which are two very big ifs. So, if you were to say you find it distasteful for a destination playground to bandy about the term detox for pampered elites briefly weaning themselves of iPhones and Xboxes while reveling in some luxury R&R ... then I might just stand up and cheer.

But first, onward with the classics. My Jumble Brainbusters Junior book is not going to read itself.

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Sharon Brody Twitter News Anchor
Sharon Brody is the voice of WBUR's weekend mornings. On Saturdays and Sundays, she anchors the news for Weekend Edition and other popular programs.

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