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5 Holiday Retreats to Relax and Unplug

Studies show that we check our smartphones more than 150 times a day on average. Wouldn’t it be nice to disconnect – no text, e-mail or social media – just for a while? Here are five resorts to head to for a digital detox.


Australia, Lizard Island Resort

The beach resort at Australia’s northernmost island doesn’t have a device-free policy, but there’s no mobile phone coverage, so you’re forced to switch off your devices anyway. The guest lounge does have complimentary Internet access, but you’d do better exploring the great outdoors instead. Lizard Island lies in the middle of the Great Barrier Reef, so that means plenty of snorkelling and diving. You can even take a ride out to sea on a glassbottomed boat.

On land, engage in activities like self-guided nature walks, tennis, and picnics on private beaches, to name a few. Or unwind at the resort’s brand-new Essentia Day Spa, which uses products from luxe Parisian skincare brand La Biosthetique.

How much: Rates for a twin-share Garden Room start from A$1,699 (S$1,708) a night, but expect to pay more – from A$1,759 – during the high season (usually from Dec 18 to Jan 10).


Australia, Arkaba

No TV, internet access or mobile phone coverage. That’s how off-the-grid you’ll be at this rustic homestead nestled in the Flinders Ranges. What you’ll get instead: more than 24,200ha of wilderness, shared with just 10 other guests. Now, how’s that for exclusivity? Explore Australia’s iconic bush landscape through guided walks and safari drives in opentop vehicles. Get up close with critters such as the red kangaroo, common wallaroo, and – if you’re lucky – the endangered yellow-footed rock wallaby. Or you can hire a personal plane to get a bird’s-eye view of the Flinders Ranges and the massive salt pans of Lake Torrens.

A visit to South Australia isn’t complete without sampling its produce. At Arkaba, you’ll enjoy hosted three-course dinners featuring gourmet dishes made from local ingredients. Wash it all down with tipple from
the resort’s cellar, which showcases some of the region’s best wines.

How much: From A$816 a night for each adult, including meals, beverages and daily guided wilderness safaris.


Japan, Retreat Kushunada 

Retreat Kushunada is one of the few resorts in the world offering a dedicated digital detox programme, held once a month. You surrender all your electronic devices (watches included) when you check in, and the items will be returned to you only at the end of the programme, or in an emergency. Tokyo is a 50-minute train ride away, but the resort, which is flanked by mountains and rivers, feels worlds apart from the buzzing Japanese capital. There’s a sense of being suspended in time – and not only because there aren’t any timekeeping devices around. It might also stem from the fact that you’re housed in a traditional tatami-style room, with an old-school cypress bathtub to boot.

You’re also encouraged to take things slow – really slow. Activities on the itinerary include tea ceremonies, meditation exercises, stretching on the beach at sunrise, as well as a leisurely walk through Atami town.

How much: The two-day, one-night programme costs 23,000 yen (S$254) a person, excluding taxes.


Cambodia, Nomads Land

Nomads Land

It’s back to basics at Koh Totang, a rugged, unspoiled island still untouched by modern civilisation. It’s so remote that there’s only one guest house on the island – Nomads Land, which comprises just five bungalows. Don’t expect Wi-Fi, TV or even running water and electricity here. Everything at the eco-retreat is powered by solar panels, and drinking water is fi ltered from rainwater – you’re even given a sterilised, reusable water bottle to use during your stay.

Spend the hours revelling in the natural wonders of the island. Koh Totang is just 500 sq m in size, so you can easily take a 20-minute hike through lush jungle to reach the private beach located on the other side of the island. The guest house can also arrange boat trips out to neighbouring islands, where you can snorkel and fish.

Of course, there’s the option of relaxing in a hammock on your own private terrace and soaking up the stunning sea view. Sure sounds like paradise to us!

How much: From US$90 (S$126) for a bungalow for two.


Philippines, Mandala Spa & Resorts Villas


The award-winning, eco-friendly resort in Boracay offers several garden-facing and poolfacing villas, including fi ve Digital Detox Villas (yes, that’s what they’re called). These villas are devoid of television sets and Wi-Fi access, to ensure you have a meditative and restful stay. You’re surrounded by 2.5ha of lush foliage, and the pristine shores of Boracay’s popular White Beach are just a fi ve-minute walk away. When you’re done lazing by the water, head to the in-house Mandala Spa for traditional Philippine treatments, or sign up for yoga, fitness and dance classes at The Vessel – a bamboo dome in the resor t constructed from organic materials found on the island.

How much: US$180++ a night, inclusive of daily breakfast for two, daily yoga classes for two, and 10 per cent off all spa services.


Why Do a Digital Detox?

Dr Lim Boon Leng, a psychiatrist from Gleneagles Hospital, tells us why it’s a good idea.

“The information overload of our digital age means we have more things to think about. Work has also become more portable – we constantly check e-mail messages on the go,” he says. “Going digital-free makes you more aware of your surroundings. It allows you to rest, de-stress
and communicate better. You might also end up feeling less attached to your devices.” If you can’t do a digital detox retreat, Dr Lim says you can designate digital-free hours within your day, or digital-free areas within your house. “For example, avoid using devices during dinner, or ban them from the bedroom.”


By Delle Chan, Simply Her, October 2015

Photos: Courtesy resort websites

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