A vacation is what you take
when you can no longer take what you’ve been taking.
The WSJ ran an article titled “When Guests Check In, Their iPhones Check Out,” about the “deals” a few hotels are offering travelers who pony up their digital devices for some true downtime. (How sad is it that we have to be told how to relax?)
The Renaissance in Pittsburgh PA, does seem to offer an actual discounted rate (and kayak lessons!) if you book the “Zen and the Art of Detox” package: Your laptop, cell phone, and all other digital devices must be surrendered upon check-in, and will be held for you until your departure. Prior to your arrival, the television, phone, and ihome dock station will be removed from your guest room and replaced by literary classics.
Likewise, the Quincy in DC knows where it’s at: If you want to be free at last, lock up your electronic devices in your in-room safe upon check in and forget about them for the weekend! (If you feel better keeping your cell phone on your person so that friends and family can reach you, we understand. But we trust that you’ll only use it in case of an emergency!) Detoxing from your technology is all about relaxing, spending time outdoors – and doing the things you never seem to have the time to do.
Guests booking our “Be Unplugged” Package will receive:
- $25 Gift Certificate to a local book store – buy a book, sit under a tree, and relax for an afternoon
- City Walks Flash Cards – Each card outlines a self-guided map and insider information
- A Journal – cleanse your mind by keeping a journal
However, the Quincy’s Be Unplugged package doesn’t appear to actually offer a discount; plus the rate is based on double occupancy and seemingly geared more towards harried businessmen in serious need of break, than towards families looking to unplug and enjoy the town together.
The others listed in the article seem to treat the enforced electronic embargo as a therapeutic perk. A luxury, like a continental breakfast or a complimentary spa service.
Which is all fine and good— these hotels are offering packages that are pretty awesome on their own terms, emphasizing relaxation and outdoor activities (I wouldn’t turn down a visit to the Teton Mountain Lodge, Lake Placid Lodge or Via Yoga). But those are definitely different from the long-weekend types of trips most of us take with our kids.
I think hotels are missing out on an opportunity here: a chance to not only highlight the best family-centric sights their city has to offer, but the chance to really make a difference in the quality of a family’s vacation.
Keep in mind that:
- Only 57% of Americans use all their vacation time.
- The majority of Americans (68%) check their work emails on vacay.
- 32% (one-third) of parents describe their stress levels are extreme, and kids with chronically stressed parents are more likely to report having a great deal of stress themselves.
- 75% of parents and 60% of kids wish they spent more time together, and, lest we forget,
- Obesity rates are still rising, topping 20% in every state except Colorado.
What I would love to see is hotels offering a decent discount rate for families who:
- stay a minimum of 3 days,
- turn over all their electronic devices, including cellphones and TV privileges,
- take part in specified family activities in the area: sit-down meals, museums and other tourist attractions, parks, trails, challenges. Ideally these family activities would be discounted as well in partnership with the hotel, and bonus points could be given for outdoor endeavors.
- Then, a prize or additional discount could be awarded if x number of activities were completed. Or, maybe even just points or miles for your next stay with that chain.
Dontcha think? It would be like camping, only with a nice cushy bed and a hot shower.
As a for-instance, locally the DE State Parks issue an annual Great Pursuit Challenge, which is a list of activities at the parks throughout the state. If you do at least 21 over the course of the year, your family earns a one-year park pass. (There is also a trail-specific Trail Challenge.) Now, I live by the northern tip of the state, and I’m not so familiar with the southern end. It would be awesome if a hotel had a Challenge Package that offered a discount for participants, giving them a sample itinerary of the activities/trails nearby to help maximize their time and directions from place to place. Offering a healthy picnic lunch to take with, or coupons to local restaurants near those activities, would be a stellar bonus!
Then an affiliated hotel could offer a similar package in Kent & New Castle Counties, and maybe if you did the whole thing with connected hotels you could earn a BOGO night on a room during off-peak season. That would definitely motivate me to stay in a hotel while doing the New Castle County leg of the Challenge, even though I live so close by.
I realize DE is unique because it’s so small, but other cities could issue similar challenges regionally. A great way to encourage both out-of-state travel and family staycations; real vacations where stressed-out, cash-strapped families can spend fun time together.
I’d leap onto a deal like that in a heartbeat, especially since my family is so challenge-oriented anyway. We like to check things off lists.
Whattya think? Would you book my family digital detox? Or is it really that difficult for the average family to get away and unplugged now?
And, it is occurring to me that some hotels may offer deals like this already and I just don’t know it (I don’t get out much). Let me know if you know of any, regardless of location, and I’ll give them a proper shoutout.