With the prevalence of technology, it can sometimes be hard to vacation on vacation. As the Internet becomes increasingly ubiquitous, plenty of “vacationers” will check work e-mail using the hotel WiFi, or check-in on Foursquare while sitting on the beach (guilty). For some, the only solution is to go truly off the grid.
In April of last year, we reported on Oyster.com, a young travel startup that’s snagged a sweet partnership with the Travel Channel. Oyster is full of curated information to provide inspiration for wanderlust travelers, along with planning help that will put the traditional travel agent out of business. We caught up with the travel experts at Oyster just before the holidays to ask them where they thought we should go for New Year’s Eve and again this month to help us pick the top 5 tech savvy U.S. cities and their most hooked up hotels.
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Now, we’ve asked Oyster to help us find the best places in the world to recharge our batteries — no batteries required. Take a look at our top picks for unplugged getaways…
Jake’s, Jamaica: Jake’s 30 colorful, funky cottages in Treasure Beach lack phones, Internet, and TV, and sprawl along a rugged coastline, connected by meandering stone and tile mosaic pathways. A canopy of trees and lanterns arches over the romantic outdoor dining area, bar, and charming saltwater pool. This island outpost resort bills itself, accurately, as “the chicest shack in the Caribbean,” and its driftwood spa, on-site painting and yoga classes, and excellent food make it a particular favorite with loyal guests.
What to Do When You’re Off the Grid: The ruggedly beautiful South Coast, also known as “Treasure Beach,” is home to vast farmland — peppered with tiny, colorful cottages and shacks — and black-sand beaches. Travelers here spend a lot of time staring at the sea, sampling local produce at roadside stands, and filling up on fresh fish at casual beach shacks. One of the coolest watering holes around is Floyd’s Pelican Bar, a rickety shack on the ocean reached only by boat that serves fresh BBQ fish.
Dying? For those who need to cheat on their tech-free trip, Wi-Fi is available in the lobby, in the restaurant and poolside.
Jade Mountain, St. Lucia: Jade Mountain is one of the world’s most romantic — and expensive — hotels, but it’s also one of the best places to unplug. The rooms are called sanctuaries, and rightly so — they are intentionally tech-free, with no TVs, Internet, or radios to disturb the peace. They all have open fourth walls with jaw-dropping views of Pitons and the Caribbean Sea, Jacuzzi tubs, and canopied beds; most have private infinity pools.
What to Do When You’re Off the Grid: Many romantic-minded travelers will spend all of their time in their rooms, but others will find plenty to entertain. Jade Mountain offers a scuba center on-site, with a full diving program, and there’s excellent scuba diving to be had near Anse Chastanet. There’s also a jungle biking center on-site, with Cannondale mountain bikes to rent, and several spots on the island offering great windsurfing. Those looking for slower-paced activities can visit the mineral baths at Sulpher Springs Volcanic Park, or shop for batik clothing and artisan carvings at the Soufriere market.
Travaasa Hana, Maui: The Hotel Hana-Maui overlooking Hana Bay delivers rustic luxury in the middle of Maui’s lush, secluded east coast. It offers incredible service, a top spa, excellent food, a long list of stuff to do, and only 77 rooms on acres of uncrowded property. The rooms are large, clean, sleekly furnished — and stripped of TVs, clocks, radios, and Wi-Fi. The resort is hard to reach, but worth the trip.
What to do When You’re Off the Grid: Half the fun of being in Hana is exploring the area’s lush verdant landscape and stunning coast — inland hikes to the area’s many waterfalls, gulches, and springs, or outings to find the many hidden beaches. On-site, guests will find two pools, tennis courts, a fitness center, shops, and one of Hawaii’s best spas.
Dying? Wi-Fi is available in common areas.
Natura Cabanas, Dominican Republic: Offering eco-friendly bungalows in a lush, friendly setting, Natura Cabanas is a taste of serene, northern coast luxury for a remarkably fair price. Guests enjoy delicious, fresh food, a clean, crowd-less private beach, daily yoga and Pilates classes, and a fabulous spa. It’s quiet, and a bit rustic without TV, phones, or Wi-Fi in rooms, but that’s the point.
What to Do When You’re Off the Grid: Natura Cabanas is situated on a gorgeous private beach — one of the best on the D.R.’s north coast. The hotel can arrange outings to nearby waterfalls and horseback riding trails, and it’s only a 10-minute drive to Cabarete, which has a lively nightlife scene, and is a center for extreme sports including kitesurfing and windsurfing.
Beyond Xaranna Okavango Delta Camp, Botswana: It doesn’t get much more unplugged than this. This ultra-remote, luxurious safari lodge on an island in Botswana’s Okavango Delta isn’t a hotel, it’s an experience, where everything — including the excellent food and the guided excursions — is included in the price of the stay. Guests can get up close to exotic wildlife on both land and water (lions and hippos!). Even arriving to the property is an adventure, requiring transport by small plane, safari vehicle, and a boat. The nine safari “tents” are fully screened in and thoroughly high-end, with huge soaking tubs, four-poster beds, lots of wood, and private pools. The only thing not on the menu? Technology.
What to Do When You’re Off the Grid: The point of coming to this area of Botswana is to get up close to some of the world’s most exotic creatures. On the property’s guided game drives, bush walks, river cruises, guests have the chance to spot lions, hippos, elephants, buffalo, leopards and the like.
And, did we miss your favorite holiday spot abroad? Let us know in the comments!