Remember when jetting off on a luxury vacation really was a break from work – and you could slope off to a water bungalow in the Maldives or a tree house in the rainforest of Borneo knowing that your colleagues couldn’t reach you? Now, thanks to technology in even the remotest resorts, there’s no such thing as down time.
Having a great time in Havana? That doesn’t stop an email from your boss asking if you could just spend a moment – all afternoon – checking an urgent report. Unwinding in Umaid Bhawan Palace in Jodhpur? That won’t stop a barrage of WhatsApp messages from the CEO’s PA expecting you to carry out last-minute budget cuts, approve a client’s ad campaign or approve a report on media spend.
It seems there isn’t anywhere on earth where you’re out of contact and colleagues, superiors and staff won’t let far-flung locations, time differences and your need for a little rest and relaxation get in the way of work, but all this is detrimental to your health. Going on holiday and shutting off from the office has been shown to lower blood pressure, help you sleep better and stop work-related stress. It reduces the risk of heart attacks and falling blood glucose levels lower the risk of diabetes, help you lose weight and boost energy levels. Experts say these benefits can be seen for months after travelling.
“We all need life balance, not life/work balance, which is outdated,” says Ches Moulton, author of Choice & Change – How to have a healthy relationship with ourself and others. “Before lap tops, mobiles and tablets, we could divide up the time spent at the office working and the time at home with your family. Now we can take the office with us, or the office can follow us wherever we go, even on our holidays. We have to find the courage to ‘switch off’ when we go away.”
Time out can actually help our careers, as we boost brain power and motivation through having different experiences away from the office, the therapist who works with high achievers insists. But it’s hard to do because of fear and stress. “We’re afraid of losing the connection with the boss and all we imagine that could entail, with the clients, prospects, colleagues, and others. But with proper planning and notifications…prior to going away we can relax and enjoy our holidays.”
So, in this age of exhaustion epidemic when we’re all used to working 24/7, it’s vital for our health, not just our happiness, to recharge our batteries and enjoy a holiday without the worry of work.
Here are our favourite luxurious resorts and hotels where we guarantee your colleagues can’t reach you.
- The Landmark, Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong
While the dizzying heights of Victoria Peak and busy street markets on this bustling island will keep you occupied all day – and a recent study showed that busy holidaymakers return home more relaxed, and refreshed than beach lovers – a digital detox at the spa in this luxurious hotel in Hong Kong’s business and fashion district will de-stress you in no time. Surrender your phone on arrival and indulge in some mindfulness activities before or after your treatment. You can switch off by journaling, note-card writing or colouring as meditation, or just enjoy the silence.
“Technology has brought us many great advances,” says Jeremy McCarthy, Mandarin Oriental’s Group Director of Spa and Wellness. “But the expectations of instant communication and the increasing pace of change in the world can have a negative impact on our wellbeing.” That’s why the brand has worked with the renowned Mayo Clinic to create a programme designed to “…help guests find new ways to manage their relationship with technology and the stress that can come with a constantly connected digital lifestyle.”
Forget work and reconnect with yourself with a Digital Detox Retreat. The 1 hour 20 minute experience starts with an aromatic bath, followed by a massage that concentrates on the head, eyes, neck, shoulders, hands and feet. Afterwards you can pick up your newly cleaned phone from the spa.
Rates: From HKD 4,700 per night http://www.mandarinoriental.com
- Kasbah Tamadot, Morocco
Perched on the top of a valley in the foothills of Morocco’s High Atlas Mountains is the 28-room Kasbah Sir Richard Branson bought for his parents to run as a retreat. Just 45 minutes from Marrakech Airport, Kasbah Tamadot, meaning soft breeze in Berber, is a world away from the office. With a reflecting pool, roof terrace, spa, gym, amphitheatre and a library, you can stay in one of the original 15 rooms, a sumptuous suite or one of the hillside Berber tents. Gaze at the view across the Atlas Mountain range and valley below, laze in the king-sized bed or huge bathtub, or dine outside on the terrace. Six of the tents even have private Jacuzzis.
Guests are encouraged to Pack for a Purpose, taking special items to donate to local projects, and Richard’s mother, Eve Branson, has created a foundation to improve living conditions in local communities. You can get involved by buying the handicrafts on sale in the shop or visit local craft houses set up by the foundation in neighbouring villages. For the more adventurous, you can trek, venture down the river, or go on a camel, donkey or mule ride. At night, thanks to its secluded location and no light pollution, you can stargaze.
Rates: High season: 1 September 2016 – 13 November 2016 from MAD 6,150 (£489) per room per night B&B based on double occupancy.
Low season: 14 November 2016 – 21 December 2016 from MAD 5,150 (£409) per room per night B&B based on double occupancy.
- Kamalaya, Thailand
The ultimate jungle hideaway, it’s hard to think about work in this award-wining holistic spa carved into the hillside on the south coast of Koh Samui. “Pamper yourself surrounded by lush vegetation within walking distance of powdered sandy beaches,” boasts the brochure, “…far enough away for you to switch off your phone and never to look back, not even to answer your boss’s demands.”
Phones are banned outside your room, and after days lazing on the pristine beach or playing in the azure sea, you can book an East meets West detox treatment with herbal remedies and supplements to revitalise.
Rates: 7 nights at Kamalaya from £3,065pp or £3,490 for single occupancy. Prices include full board, a detox programme and return flights and transfers from the UK (optional) on www.healthandfitnesstravel.com
- The Isle of Eriska
Where better to digitally detox than in a 300-acre private island, located just off the west coast of Scotland, accessible by a private bridge? You won’t mind handing in your phone at reception – part of the Detox Package – as there’s plenty of five-star distraction. Along with a Michelin-star restaurant, Deck, overlooking the loch and the nine-hole golf course there’s also the Stables Spa and luxurious chateaux accommodation. Indulge in ESPA and Ishga treatments in the spa complete with bathtubs for seaweed therapies.
Rates: From £420 per room per night B & B. www.eriska-hotel.co.uk
- Soukya, Bangalore, India
More intense than your average vacation, Soukya is a holistic retreat that sets out to restore the body and mind with stress management and anti-addiction therapies. It is the vision of Dr. Issac Mathai, one of India’s leading holistic health gurus, described by author Deepak Chopra as “one of the most brilliant doctors in the world today.”
Set in 30 acres of cultivated land in Bangalore, you’ll follow a bespoke programme of meditation, psychotherapy and natural remedies. All of the herbs and plant extracts used in the treatments are grown in the onsite medical garden. There’s a minimum one-week stay.
Rates: Deluxe rooms start from £81 per night including vegetarian meals. www.soukya.com