From streamlining registration to increasing interactivity and engagement, technology has done a lot to enhance meetings and events. Unfortunately, it also has done a lot to distract from them. Consider, for example, the results of Deloitte’s “2018 Global Mobile Consumer Survey.” Published in November 2018, it found that the average American consumer views his or her phone 52 times per day, that 39 percent of Americans believe they use their smartphone too much and that 63 percent of Americans are trying to reduce their smartphone usage.
Clearly, Americans have a love-hate relationship with their devices. Fortunately, there’s a treatment for those who feel overly dependent on electronics: a digital detox.
Whether it lasts for a few hours or a few days, a digital detox gives meeting attendees the chance to literally and figuratively “cut the cord” by divorcing themselves from their devices. Without the constant distraction of their phone, computer or tablet, they can devote 100 percent of their energy and attention to things like learning, networking and well being, the benefits of which often persuade them to relate differently to their devices upon reuniting with them.
Because more and more travelers are recognizing the benefits of taking tech breaks, more and more hoteliers are stepping up to facilitate them. That includes meeting hotels, where individual guests or entire groups can unplug from their devices to bask in the benefits of a day without the addictive glow of blue light. Here are five such hotels, each of which has its own digital-detox offering that can help meeting attendees get a grip on their devices by loosening their devices’ grip on them.
5 Hotels Where Groups Can Have a Digital Detox
• Kimpton Taconic Hotel (Manchester, Vt.). Vermont’s Kimpton Taconic offers a “Cut the Corporate Cord” team-building package for corporate meeting groups. The package starts with one of two media check-in programs: The 3-A-Day Program, which allows attendees to check their phone in with hotel staff for 15 minutes of digital freedom at a time in the morning, around lunchtime and prior to dinner. Or there’s the “Cold Turkey Detox” program, which lets attendees check their phone in for the duration of the meeting, with the option of giving a reward to attendees who check back with their phones the least. Instead of ignoring colleagues to spend time with their screens, attendees will engage with each other during numerous team-building activities, including:
- a team kayaking or canoeing adventure on the Battenkill River
- an on-property art lesson or adult coloring session
- a hiking excursion
- morning meditation or yoga
- a cooking or cocktail-making class with chef Michael Bates-Walsh of the Copper Grouse restaurant.
The package starts at $339 per person, per night, and is available for groups of 10 to 20 people.
• Mandarin Oriental, Boston. If your group fancies a spa meeting in Massachusetts, check out the Mandarin Oriental, Boston, which offers a “Device-Free Wellness Retreat.” Starting at $615 per person, the experience lasts 4 hours and 20 minutes and includes:
- personal training
- yoga or pilates
- a coffee and frankincense body scrub
- a Himalayan salt stone massage
- lunch in the Spa Tea Lounge
- a bespoke facial
The only catch: You have to surrender your phone upon check-in. Many other Mandarin Oriental hotels offer similar device-free spa packages.
• Wyndham Grand Orlando Resort Bonnet Creek. At Florida's Wyndham Grand Orlando Resort Bonnet Creek and other participating Wyndham Grand properties, guests can participate in the “Reconnected” program. Designed for families -- the idea is to get Mom and Dad to spend more time engaging with their children than with their devices -- it equips parents with everything they need to create a memorable experience with their kids, including: a kit for building a blanket fort, a flashlight and how-to guide for creating shadow puppets, and “Adventure Backpacks” filled with a stuffed animal, crayons, coloring and activity sheets, plus a storybook. Finally, parents and kids receive a timed lockbox to hold their phones so they can enjoy distraction-free family time, and an Instax instant camera for capturing and printing vacation photos while their phones are locked up. Although the program is designed for families on vacation, it serves as inspiration for what might be possible with groups meeting at the property.
• Grand Velas Riviera Maya (Playa del Carmen, Mexico). You can escape your devices south of the border, too. Grand Velas Riviera Maya, for example, recently launched a new Digital Detox program that includes a “Detox Concierge.” When guests arrive at the resort, the concierge “cleanses” their suite by removing the flat-screen television from the room and replacing it with classic board games. He or she then whisks away guests’ personal electronic devices to a safe for secure storage during their stay. Participating guests receive a bracelet in exchange for their electronics that guarantees them access to the following activities:
- a bike tour
- an ecological tour of the property's flora and fauna
- a snorkeling tour
- facials and massages at the resort’s spa
Guests must earn a total of four activity bracelets -- one for each day of the detox -- in order to receive their electronics back. Finally, participants receive a T-shirt that says, “We are digital detoxing,” and will have their name placed on a timer in the lobby that displays the time that they have spent detoxing. Again, the program is designed for families but offers a glimpse at what could be possible for groups that want to similarly “detoxify.”
• MGM Grand Las Vegas. In partnership with wellness pioneer Delos, MGM Grand Las Vegas in Nevada offers “Stay Well Meetings,” an experience that includes meeting rooms and spaces designed to optimize the health and well being of attendees, as well as wellness programming. While meeting space includes features such as air purification, circadian lighting, ergonomic furniture, aromatherapy and chromatherapy, programming includes a digital detox component consisting of structured intervals throughout the day when attendees are encouraged to disconnect from technology.