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(2013 - Fall/Winter Issue)


It’s true when travelling that anyone who wants to ignore cyberspace “connectivity” can simply do that, especially on outdoor adventures such as cycling, sailing, hiking, climbing, canoeing, camping and the like. There’s something else in the air however.

It seems the more we get away, the more we seem to value actually being able to touch and taste a lifestyle quite different from our own. And many of us are avidly buying into the trendy “unplugged” travel philosophy.

No wonder. When we are told, for instance, that our planet has an estimated 7.2 billion people and there are seven billion cellphone accounts, you might say we get the message. Indeed, life is filled with too many messages, so it’s no surprise travellers are asking for time out.

This unplugged travel philosophy is far from universally accepted however. For example, on a jeep safari in Tanzania where you are feeling as free as the elephants, giraffes, gazelles and zebras, would you be annoyed if your African ranger was much keener to answer texts on his smartphone? Or, on the romantic canals of Venice, would you be just as perplexed when your singing gondolier suddenly stopped, put a cellphone to his ear and shouted back at the intruder, not only ruining the moment, but pretty well forgetting about you altogether? True stories.

Virtual world, real world; both are blending and blurring before our eyes. So to make sure you do indeed enjoy all of the unfiltered experiences you desire requires clever planning—and a strong will.

With all this in mind, here’s a snapshot of some stand-out places that subscribe earnestly to the joys of the unplugged adventure:

British Columbia Wilderness

While the Canadian Far North can guarantee endless uninterrupted experiences, so do some wilderness areas in each province. In British Columbia, for example, very close to the Alberta border, you will find the secluded Island Lake Lodge set among the mountains and cedar forests. Accommodating up to 50 people in three pretty buildings, there are no phones, computer jacks or televisions in the guest rooms. Your entertainment is the big outdoors, although meals and hospitality at this lodge are also star attractions.islandlakecatskiing.com

St. Lucia Sanctuary

The ultimate Caribbean experience isn’t complete until you’ve spent time in the rainforest Eden at the southern end of St. Lucia. Every aspect of nature here seems to be oversized and magnified—from the jungle-green terra firma to the bottom of the spearmint sea. Towering hillsides yield gigantic ferns, palms and magnificent flowers, a utopia for the island’s tropical birds and butterflies. You’ll hear the sounds of the jungle too: the day and night chorus of chirps and chatter by a giddy world of wetland creatures. And when you snorkel, silence. In this 3-D underwater realm you instantly encounter a parade of the most colourful, friendly and curious tropical fish. Stay at Jade Mountain St. Lucia where the guestroom “sanctuaries” are deliberately techno-free: no telephones, radio or television. Saunter next door for a little more pampering at its sister resort, Anse Chastanet, to enjoy its restaurants, bars, spa and water sports hub. jademountain.com; stlucianow.ca

Jamaican Refuge

While you are guaranteed tantalizing tropical wilderness when hiking the interior of Jamaica, you really don’t have to venture too far off the tourist trail to truly get away from it all. Offering the bohemian appeal of Key West, Florida, and Big Sur, California, liberated Negril in Jamaica is legendary. So waste no time: set yourself as free as can be, anywhere on the fabled white sands of this sunset coast. The minute you approach the secluded Rockhouse resort and step into a thatch-roofed villa overlooking the sea, every part of you is where it wants to be. Swim in the 18-metre-long horizon pool or take the rock-face steps down to the sheltered cove to snorkel on the reef. Award-winning restaurants and the resort’s holistic approach—including yoga and umpteen body treatments—will make everything just right with the world. rockhousehotel.com; negril.com

Florida Reserve

Sheer enjoyment and frolic can fill up every waking minute here. However, Florida’s nature reserves, such as those in the Keys, make it a cinch to unplug. Underscoring this is the two-hectare, adult-only Little Palm Island resort, located about an hour’s drive from Key West and accessible only by a private motor yacht. Resort guests are accommodated in one of 15 thatch-roofed, oceanfront bungalows. Top-tier amenities include a king-size canopy bed, a separate living room, an outdoor bamboo shower, an indoor jetted tub—all of it without phones or television todistract you.The only sounds you hear as you awaken each morning are pelican calls and soft lapping waves. Relax by the pool and picnic on the white sand beach or on a private catamaran. Go kayaking, deep sea fishing, windsurfing or indulge in a facial or massage. Then dine together on
an open-air terrace under a magnificent canopy of stars. littlepalmisland.com

Dominican Republic  Retreat

If you opt for something more serene than the popular Puerto Plata strip, head eastward along the island’s dense and beautiful north coast. Once you reach the town of Cabarete, check in for a few days at the Natura Cabana Boutique Hotel & Spa. As the name suggests, prepare to release your inner spirit and become one with nature. The architectural mood at Natura Cabana and the atmosphere in your own private dwelling are specifically designed to both stimulate and mellow your five senses into a mystical harmony. This balance of energy is achieved by adhering to the ancient Chinese body of knowledge known as Feng Shui, which creates a space to relax and re-energize while you’re spoiled with fine cuisine, spa treatments and attentive, friendly service. naturacabana.com

Bahamas Hideaway

If you ever decide to take a float plane from place to place in the Bahamas, you’ll be forgiven if you never feel the same way about these islands again. While the sunny charms of Nassau and Freeport cannot be denied, wait until you see other hideaways scattered across this archipelago surrounded by the clearest turquoise sea. String after string of tiny white-sand jewels have basked in the sunshine here for an eternity, all of them blissfully removed from human contact. An aerial view is hypnotic, even other-worldly, since any one of those desert isles could be your ultimate escape. And then every so often, below, a larger somewhat developed island appears, yet its location is still so remote. Those places would be Bimini, Eleuthera, Cat Island, Abacos, San Salvador and Andros. On South Andros island, stay at the eco resort, Tiamo, and kick off your shoes. tiamoresorts.com; bahamas.com

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