We seem to have a bit of weakness for hotels situated at the boundary between ocean and rainforest. Can you blame us when Keemala bills itself as an “all-pool villa wonderland?” That means, we’re proud to report, a just-right combination of hammocks, treehouse rooms, elevated soaking tubs, and yes, a private pool for every booking. No, we don’t recommend taking the laptop in the tub with you.
Austin sometimes seems to sprawl without limit, but a short hop out of town deposits you in true-blue Hill Country, excellently suited to Travaasa’s self-improvement and bonding ethos. Learn to dance, ride a horse, whip up a meal, differentiate local flora — point is, put Wikipedia away and get your hands dirty. Then clean them in preparation for a homestyle feast at Jean’s Kitchen. You’ll have earned it.
We could leave this at “neighbors with a National Park,” but for the sake of the theme we’ll enumerate the rest of its virtues. There are only four units, remarkably, and that seclusion is reinforced by a thrilling coast-meets-rainforest backdrop. Who needs a flatscreen when the rooms come with original artwork and the infinity pool looks out over Portobelo Bay?
The other Palm Springs, if you will, one wherein campfire camaraderie and drinks at the original barn take the place of Snapchat sparring. There’s something of a moratorium on screens, a policy which not-so-subtly ushers you outdoors to take in the woodsy views on foot or bike. Think of it as how you’d do summer camp over again, without all that teenage awkwardness.
You know it’s a keeper when jaded Cariocas and Paulistanos make it their destination of choice. Here, again, the joint grandeur of the lush rainforest and the Atlantic coast’s white sands completely outclass anything an LCD screen could muster. Heed the call of the waters — whether that means surfing lessons, fresh seafood, or both.
The Yucatán jungle is so reliably fascinating that we may as well just stick to pictures and call it a day; if the Mayan ruins won’t convince you, a sentence or two of ours certainly won’t. But it gets better, unbelievably: each guest works with staff on a dedicated relaxation regimen centered around yoga, spa treatments, bike treks, and the like. Presumably that includes a massage to alleviate Texter’s Thumb.
You know we love our design boutiques, but if there’s anything to remedy the hectic-electric daily grind, it’s Papaya Playa Project’s beachfront commune ambience. You won’t be smothered with service or bathed in wan blue light; even the modern casitas have electricity only for lighting. (You read that right — no outlets at all.) Instead you’ll make your way to the beach club for local eats and live music.
Design-wise, Areias Do Seixo’s rooms invite the outside in: sizable windows admit plenty of light, driftwood-chic furnishings attract the gaze, and stone surfaces predominate. It’s more or less rustic meets contemporary, an aesthetic suited better to a cheery fireplace than a screen on the wall. Sooner or later you’ll get a hankering to wander around the place, and that’s when you’ll discover the fireplace’s big brother on the beach: a nightly communal bonfire. Social media can wait.
Here’s how it’s done: no TV. No phone. No fridge, no wi-fi. No worries, though, as monastic seclusion is entirely the point. You’re in the middle of an Umbrian forest living the simple (though not so austere) monastic life and it is perfect. Just let them try to find you.
The Dead Sea isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, and thankfully, neither is its beauty. Flatscreens aren’t the point; that honor goes to the mesmerizing canyons and waterfalls, offset by inspired counterpoint in the hotel’s palatial architecture. Charged silence and serene privacy are the rules of the day.
If you’re looking to tune out, Kangaroo Island should do the trick; hard to outdo a rugged, Southern Australian island in that department. Only family rooms have TVs, which fact you won’t mind at all with a private terrace and ocean views to keep you company. And how about that, another hotel bordering a National Park. Plenty of opportunity to brush up on the wildlife — and later, to share a tall tale or two over wine.