EU

Is it time for your digital detox?

Hotels are offering packages aimed at giving guests a break from their gadgets

While most of us grumble about the high cost of hotel wi-fi, or complain that there aren’t enough sockets to charge all our different devices, some hotel guests are looking for a complete break from their gadgets.

As more workers try to evade the encroaching demands of the office during their holidays, ducking texts and emails, a number of hotels have started offering so-called ‘digital detox’ holidays to help stressed workers relax and unwind.

According to the World Travel Market global trends report there has been a rise in the number of hotel “technology-free” packages, offering the chance to relinquish devices.

The report cites a hotel in Chicago which offers a “technology break” another in Washington DC which has a “Be Unplugged” package; and a hotel outside London that offers a “BlackBerry Creche”.

Caroline Bremner, Euromonitor International Head of Travel and Tourism Research, said in a statement: “Offering a relaxing alternative for consumers to step off the relentless ‘digital’ treadmill is another example of how hotels are filling a gap in the market and helping to boost their bottom line at a difficult economic time.”

About

Steve Ranger is the UK editor of TechRepublic, and has been writing about the impact of technology on people, business and culture for more than a decade. Before joining TechRepublic he was the editor of silicon.com.

36 comments
allisonleee
allisonleee

We live in a time of <a href="http://personalmoneynetwork.com/moneyblog/2013/01/18/digital-addiction/">electronic dependency</a>. From televisions and computer systems to cell phones and tablets, we're looking at a video screen for most of our waking lives. Kid psychology Dr. Bruce Perry has implied that the “digital nanny” crisis has been one of the major reasons for the drop in children's combined attention span. It doesn't need to be that way, however, and adults must set the right example.

Arcturus909
Arcturus909

I told my teenage daughters that when we went to Mexico, NONE of us were taking our cell phones. They had serious issues with it and were pretty pouty on the flight. By day 3 the 16 year old came to thank me. Although she has no work stuff happening on her phone, she did not realize just how stressful it was to just make sure to keep up with friends and the constant electronic flow. She had a wonderful vacation away from her device, as did I. The 19 year old had a different reaction and ended up in an Internet Cafe for a couple of hours. As satisfied as I was about this, I took my Blackberry on my summer vacation 8 months later "just in case" and spent quite a number of minutes each day reading Twitter feeds and work email. I broke my own rules! It is deadly easy to become addicted to the digital flow. Especially if you have a pretty new device with a fast connection. Beware!

kevsan
kevsan

It is human nature to resist change. That is why psychiatrists and psychologists exist, they are there to help us make the necessary changes in our lives. The "Detox" break is nothing more than a gimmick and chances are it will cause more harm than good. Anxiety levels will go through the roof as separation from habitual use of technology is as bad as a drug addict or alcoholic's withdrawal. It has taken years of clever marketing to make people think that cell phones, the Internet and even TV essential items that we cannot live without. To undo that would take as many years. Any person suffering from the now recognized technology addiction syndrome can get far better help consulting a therapist than a quick fix so called Detox holiday.

hometoy
hometoy

I was taking a week to be at a Cub Scout summer camp for the week and the director said "we do have internet access here, but if you want to tell your employer that there is none, we'll tell them the same thing." Meanwhile we did stay connected but that was largely to post pictures on Facebook.

labattomy
labattomy

I find I use my phone for telling time, probably like my great grandfather carried a pocketwatch. And I hate calculating restaurant tips in my head. I suppose I could just remove the SIM and then I can use it for all the other stuff I rely on it for...

MontseCano
MontseCano

I did not want to believe it first time I heard about it. Now, I do believe that the so-called nomophobia does exist. Why this horror to be separated from a mobile device? I will be blogging about this soon.

jimvasco
jimvasco

So basically hotels without connectivity are just marketing? I decide when I connect; that way I can use any hotel I want. Silly

mjpierce
mjpierce

Well, I'm certainly glad to hear that so many people have nice enough employers that they can simply turn off their devices when they don't want to be bothered. At my employer we have to ask for special time on weekends if we don't want calls, texts, and emails. If we simply turn off our devices without asking for an outage we'll be written up, and if we do it more than once we could be fired. We're expected to be connected 24x7x365 unless we ask specifically for a blackout time (asking for vacation doesn't count, we're still expected to respond on vacation). It's not a matter of knowing where the off button is, it's a matter of unreasonable employers who think they're the most important people in the universe. I find Great Wolf Lodge to be a good place to go because then I can tell them I need a blackout because I can't take the devices in the pools. I have to book my vacations in places like the North Rim of the Grand Canyon where there's no coverage.

hometoy
hometoy

I try and make weekends my low-tech time; maybe spend a little time on the computer each day but otherwise keep busy with more important things like house, fun and kids!

mdwalls
mdwalls

It's what used to be called willpower. You are not forced to answer the phone, check email every 5 minutes, etc. Outside business hours, I continue to check my Blackberry whenever a call or email comes in -- if it is convenient. If it is something I choose to deal with at that moment, I will open the email. If not, it will wait until the morning. Even if I read the email I am not forced to respond right then. I use the tools to improve my life, not to run it.

cheth
cheth

I agree just shut the darned things off. If management can't leave you alone on your vacation then they should not complain if you use company time to check your social network.

gadutra
gadutra

Hello! Good thing there are people with advanced sensitivity to remind us that there is another world out there and we do a lot of good live unplugged the technological gadgets. We have time to rest up. But not everyone has eyes to see and ears to hear. Viva human contact with people! Viva contact with the animals! Viva contact with nature! Live the life! Thanks for reminding me of that.

donallsop
donallsop

Last time I looked, these devices all had "off" switches.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

arises when an employer looks at the Facebook page of an 'unreachable' employee and notices the dates on his posts match his 'no access' time.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

Now that I think about it, vacations are also the only time I carry a phone. At the end of the trip, the two devices are stored in my shaving kit. When I'm at home, work, or in the car, there's always a clock somewhere, often in the lower right corner of the screen.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

Especially a device that most couldn't afford a decade ago.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

I'm betting you have to pay extra for the 'privilege'. :D

jrcochrane256
jrcochrane256

Agreed. You have to find someone else to be the "bad guy" in order to get out of cell phone range. "Sorry, boss, I have my kid Saturday and her homework project requires this physical time and this specific library. Since they have a very strict no cell devices policy, while I am attending with her my devices will be off." Of course, if your employer requires you to step out of the library and check in on your devices periodically, you should absolutely record this information as well as _all_ information related to the employer policy you cite. Despite your employer's belief that you are an "exempt" employee and his attempt to convince _you_ that you are an "exempt" employee, you probably are not. This means that you are legally _unable_ to waive your right to overtime. You should be quietly documenting these policies, all outage requests, all outage requests declined or employer requests that you delay them. All employer requests that you check in during outages, etc. Document, document, document. I'm not suggesting you burn yourself in the industry by being the person to raise the lawsuit issue. You don't have to. Just quietly be keeping all the documentation because sooner or later someone _else_ is going to raise this class action lawsuit and win. The writing is on the wall. When they do, you want to have all your ducks in a row to file the relevant paperwork to be able to collect the back overtime pay to which you are legally entitled. Don't worry, you'll probably be collecting it from a settlement fund your employer will have had to pay into, there will be nothing there to burn you, personally. You just want to be able to collect your money as easily as possible when the time comes. Repeat: You aren't exempt, and them requiring you to carry your devices and request outage times makes all that time when you have not requested an outage time _overtime_, you legally can't waive your right to it. I am not a lawyer, this is not specific legal advice. However, I'm repeating what I recall (perhaps poorly) of the advice that I've been reading lawyers write in business columns for employers about this very issue. So congratulations. Your unreasonable employer may just owe you a crapload of money.

hometoy
hometoy

I am guessing that they didn't "spring this" required connectivity on you after your were hired? This may suit you. For me, I would probably have kept looking for another job without such strings unless it offered me flexibility I needed or there weren't too many other choices (and then I would keep looking).

enderby!
enderby!

It is hard to understand working for an employer like that unless you have been there. I have. If you are making an incredible amount of money so you can retire early, great. Otherwise get out while you can. I will affect your life and health in ways you may not see until later.

Pete6677
Pete6677

That story really takes the cake when it comes to unreasonable employers. Just walk out. Give no notice; just leave. Another job will come along, and it will be a lot better for sure.

Charles Bundy
Charles Bundy

for this company? Run for the hills, life is short! I'm being tounge-in-cheek here, as I was once in a soul sucking position that left me no time to plot an escape. Getting laid off was the best thing that ever happened to me, and yes there are good places to work that appreciate you and believe in work/life balance.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

I used to be in a position that required a beeper, but on a rotating basis, not full time. Your employer has lost sight of one of the purposes of vacation: to 'detox' from work. If you have to respond on vacation, then you're not really on vacation. I'd ask for each half-day of vacation back that I lost having to respond to a call. And I'd get my resume together. Who is footing the bill for your connectivity, you or the company?

maj37
maj37

I am with you on that if it isn't critical you should be able to just ignore it. On the other hand if it is critical then you may have an opportunity to avoid someone making a bigger mess that you have to clean up later. When I can do that I feel I have helped my company and made myself more valuable, and I have helped myself as well.

akdds
akdds

Just ensure that the ON/OFF switch is firmly in the OFF position. A definite "no-brainer".

da philster
da philster

It used to be that a vacation was when one would "chuck" work for one or two weeks and have restful and enjoyable time to themselves. Now we have these "electronic tethers" that won't leave us alone. Why? Because we let it happen. Interesting times .....

TsarNikky
TsarNikky

True, but the user.owner needs the ability to think for themselves to use it. Except for the President of the US, I cannot think of a single individual that must have instant communication with the outside world. Just look back to the 60s and earlier. Did some major catastrophe happen because someone couldn't be reached immediately? No.

jred
jred

From your Facebook page.

jrcochrane256
jrcochrane256

If your unreasonable employer is so small or insolvent or something that you think collecting your back overtime later, after someone else (or government) brings the legal action, is going to be blood out of a turnip, then you need to walk. Working all this overtime and knowing the saps just _think_ they're successfully screwing you out of paying you for it is one thing. Actually letting them screw you out of paying you for work done, and letting yourself be strong-armed into doing work for no pay, is something completely different.

GSG
GSG

Doctors and Healthcare IT workers, not to mention emergency management. Yes, we got along without the instant communication in the past, but it can't be denied that the instant communication abilities have saved a lot of lives.