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When hotels take themselves offline

With hotels striving to achieve an experience that is 100% connected, some properties are going against the flow and completely unplugging their supply. The idea is to offer a "digital detox" holiday to guests who are victims of FOMO, or "Fear Of Missing Out".

While the priority of most hotel guests is too remain connected during travel and complimentary WiFi is seen as a primary necessity during travel, some are going against the trend and expressing the need to let go. To meet this growing demand in the world of leisure tourism, several properties worldwide have implemented offers that are 100% disconnected.

The trend developed in the United States with the rise of the "Fear Of Missing Out" (FOMO). This latest source of anxiety went hand in hand with the creation of the concept of digital detox, meaning sojourns during which adults are asked to turn in their telephones, computers, tablets and other digital tools in order to make a break with their dependence on new technologies. A day dedicated to this trend has been created and baptized National Day of Unplugging, and a website lists different adapted offers throughout the country including the Fairmont Miramar, Kimpton Monaco in Chicago and the Renaissance in Pittsburgh.

The concept of digital detox has since crossed the Atlantic to find its first uses in Europe. The Westin in Dublin was the first property to position itself on the segment by launching its Digital Detox Package in 2012: upon arrival, guests are invited to leave their telephone, tablets, computers and other electronic devices in a safe made available at reception. They are then invited to participate in simple activities such as an energizing massage, practice a sport, or take a walking tour with a parks and gardens guide from the hotel. Also within the brand of Starwood Hotels & Resorts group, this offer was most recently adapted to guests staying at the Westin Paris Vendôme.

In the same vein, the Vichy Spa Hôtel Les Célestins went so far as to perfect a treatment program. Since January 2014, the property offers Digital Detox holidays during which digital devices are locked in a safe. Guests may then achieve a restorative night's sleep in a room with no television, but outfitted with a mini stereo with Zen music, books (including an anti-stress coloring book), magazines, and board games. The 4-day and 4-night program with supervision by an addiction specialist.

At the Château La Gravière, near Bordeaux, the emphasis is on a "digital break" or "temporary disconnection". The package also includes a "Digital Detox" kit with a logbook, post cards, writing paper and envelopes, pencils and pens, a book marker, a test, articles as well as bicycles, books, board games, alarm clock, local press, magazines...

In Germany, Villa Stéphanie in Baden-Baden took up the challenge to leave it up to its guests to disconnect, without abandoning their devices. The Luxury property thus installed switches in its twelve rooms and three suites, so guests may activate a kind of Faraday cage directly in the walls. This blocks 96% of signals, thereby preventing telephones and other devices from connecting.

The future of digital fasting nonetheless remains unclear, while the hotel guest of tomorrow is presented as a hyper-connected person. Connected or disconnected... how will the growing dependence on new technologies impact expectations of of tomorrow's leisure travelers?

Also read:

  • The connected watch: how can it be used in the hotel industry?
  • WiFi in hotels: faster, stronger and soon even further
  • Staying in touch with new technologies
  • The hotel room more and more high tech
  • High-tech Hotels: when the machine benefits clients
  • Technology at every step in the customer experience

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