Each year since 1967, the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), gives techies a reason to celebrate their favorite gadgets and see what’s up-and-coming. So what’s the feedback this year? More new-fangled toys, talking refrigerators, or TVs with four screens masked as one large box? Maybe it’s time to shift the comfort back to simple comforts: a good book, a cozy hammock, and ocean breezes. With that in mind, here are nine low-tech retreats where guests can unplug, disconnect, and enjoy the moment.
The Spa Retreat, Negril
Guests practice yoga at sunrise and sunset, soak in Negril’s Rasta atmosphere, and sleep in stone cottages. No in-room TVs, no clocks, and no kids allowed at The Spa Retreat.
A jungle paradise between the seas and the pyramids, just 40 minutes outside of Cancun, this is one of many eco-resorts in the region. It is also one of the top rated in the area, though the ramshackle beach-chic cabanas don’t even have 24-hour electricity. Azulik is another adults-only property.
Hix Island House, Vieques
Architect John Hix conceived this tropical island charmer long before “green” was a buzzword. Ingenious architecture allows in trade winds, while thick concrete exteriors shut out the tropical heat; so this tiny hideaway on Puerto Rico’s sleepy gem Vieques doesn’t need AC. Solar energy-powered and designed in tune with nature, Hix Island House is a true model of sustainable architecture.
Green Island, Great Barrier Reef
Most visitors to Green Island don’t stay overnight. It’s a national park, a rainforest island, and part of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. When the day crowd goes home, the romance takes over. This is a couple’s getaway to the max…totally cut off from civilization from sunset till the first morning boat arrives.
Isla Palenque, Panama
Panama’s mountainous topography and thick forest have made it darn-near impossible for most resort chains to plop down and take over. They simply can’t get the infrastructure. That’s lucky, because travelers are coming to prefer ecologically responsible, locally staffed, sustainable resorts like Isla Palenque over the “big boxes.” Stay in a Tented Suite for a week, or buy a permanent vacation residence…in a treehouse.
Manicou River Resort, Dominica
Proudly and completely off the grid, this Dominica hillside hideaway uses solar power, collects all its own water, and can only be accessed by 4x4’s. Guests hike the last few yards up the mountainside, to arrive at Manicou River Resort's flower-filled Caribbean paradise. Creature comforts include fully equipped kitchens in each cottage, and — a feat of modern-day customer service — ensuite Wi-Fi ( but only if the guests choose to have it).
The Oaks at Ojai, Southern California
Though it’s just over an hour from LA, this classic wellness retreat draws a hard line regarding technology—no cell phones in public areas. No mobile offices or working vacations at The Oaks at Ojai; instead, guests are encouraged to partake of the many wellness classes, explore the area on foot or kayak, or enjoy a quiet chat with a friend in the gardens.
Gaia River Lodge, Belize
Saying “No in-room TVs” to describe this place seems almost wrong. If you’re staying within view of waterfalls and rivers, in a gorgeous thatch-roofed cabana surrounded by orchid gardens, a TV better be the last thing on your mind. Tons of adventures await at Gaia River Lodge, including a hydro-powered tram that takes people straight to the waterfalls.
Though it’s harder to do low-tech in cold climates, the Blantyre does a great job. This Relais & Chateaux property dares to offer libraries and writing desks instead of flat-screen, remote-controlled thingies. But proprietors do comfort to the last detail: beds with gorgeous duvets and pillows piled high, old-fashioned soaking tubs, and a full menu of hot chocolates (all with marshmallows and whipped cream).
Lena Katz is the author of the Travel Temptations series (SIP, SUN, SNOW), published by Globe Pequot Press in 2009. Lena is also a travel expert for Celebrations/1800FLOWERS and WEtv (online and on-air). She contributes to the South China Morning Post and ABC News online. Lena is a former Orbitz Travel blogger and former columnist for the LA Times. She's been published in Brides Magazine, Robb Rep...(Read More)