How we got disconnected from our phones at a resort in Playa del Carmen, Mexico



Take-out? Let’s disconnect to reconnect, lovers!

As kids of the 90s my husband and I enjoyed the best of both worlds. The news arrived on paper, not on Twitter; hideous and unfiltered photos could be hidden and forgotten; and we have arranged appointments by landline. As young adults we have adapted to a digital world, personally (my MSN nickname was J-Wo, for the record) and professionally (typing on Blackberry with one hand). And now? Well, we’re pretty tech-dependent. If “enough” means connected 24/7. We use laptops all day, streaming services all night, and apps for everything from banking to take out.

One night, gorging myself on Hulu (premium, of course), I brought up digital rehab. “We should be doing a long weekend at a resort,” I suggested as my husband Chase uploaded photos of Tiki mugs to Facebook Marketplace.

“Of course I can,” he said, shrugging his shoulders.

Our neighbors, the Owids, aka the local tech wizards behind the Planner app, recently traveled to Mexico and praised Banyan Tree Mayakoba in Playa del Carmen. A luxury wellness-centric resort, with private villas and tons of on-site amenities; this checked all of the boxes in our quest to “disconnect and reconnect”. Fast forward a month, Chase and I were on a flight to Cancun International Airport, embarking on our first tech-free vacation.

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Chase dorsett

First day: let go

One last phone frenzy before landing. For the next three days, we would only use them for photos, alarms and flight updates. No more. When I switch off, panic takes hold of me. What if mom had a medical emergency? What if the boss needed me to Zoom in with Adele? What if Bennifer got engaged again? I remembered that none of these events had happened in the last three year, not to mention the days, and the feeling faded by the time I entered the resort. Zen passages and streams lead us to a two story villa featuring a king bedroom with an adjoining spa / tub area, entertainment pavilion, and private outdoor pool.

“You’re an A-Lister checking in at a tropical hideaway,” I said, trying to be wrong. “A detox with the honeymoon indulgence. No need to look at a screen in a place like this.

We undressed and took a refreshing bath. Cocooned in the shade of palm trees, the digital noise that occupied my brain has calmed down. I was lying listening to the water and the birds circling above. It’s child’s play. However, when the hunger set in, the phones came out.

First, a chance encounter with coatis running along the golf course left us lost and late for dinner at Sands Beach Club. “I’m going to need Google Maps,” Chase announced. Then at our table by the sea, instead of menus, a QR code was seated. “Well he is the safest way to dine against Covid. Chase reasoned in his best Fauci voice. We then agreed to make Google Maps and QR codes an exception. They were necessities. The meal went without talking about technology, except when I ordered a horchata and wanted to find the content on Google. Not a necessity. That night, with no blue light illuminating my eyeballs via Squid game memes, I lit an incense stick and walked away like a cloud.

Bayan Mayakoba Tree

Day two: Couple’s retreat

Married for two years, we acted like newlyweds by splurging at the spa at Banyan Tree. A foot bath followed by a full body massage performed by petite women with deceptively strong arms not only released the tension, but wonderfully freed us from pixelated cravings. Spas have traditionally been a place where people lock their phones, after all. It was only in the afternoon, sitting by the pool that I wanted to music, because who does not like Christina Aguilera around bare on a sunny day? Phone off limits, I rather focused on a novel. Not today, Xtina, not today.

Chase dorsett

Dinner was then enjoyed under the stars at the resort’s iconic Thai restaurant, Saffron. “I really want to use the Night Sky app,” Chase moaned as we discussed the points.

“Can we please enjoy pad thai and stargazing without the information?” I fumed, wondering if we were going to continue like this. Fortunately, back at the villa, an on-screen distraction awaited help. “Intimate Moments’” was the hotel’s response to our request for the ultimate couples bath. A delicious bubble bath accompanied by candles, aromatic oils and rose petals. Unabashedly romantic, it made our previous (real) honeymoon feel like a weekday at the Panda Express. We had, of course, to keep a memory of the experience with the help of a selfie before we immerse ourselves in it. My screen time that day? 16 seconds. Chase’s: 20 minutes (mainly photographs and QR scans). We were delighted and proud of a hard day of abstinence.

Chase dorsett

Day three: collapse

On a roll, we fully hit Mayakoba in airplane mode. The key to digital-free entertainment! A free eco-boat tour, although at the hottest hour of the day, allowed us to focus on the sights of turtles, crocodiles, and colorful birds with no WiFi-induced thoughts. Just like the shops and galleries of the community square, El Pueblito. It wasn’t until we had some downtime that the mini-Xtina appeared like a devil on my shoulder, whispering “Play my bare album ”several times. Ah the torment! One last evening to spend. I can do it.

Drinking and dining at Cello, their spectacular on-site Italian restaurant, provided ample time for conversation and reflection. “Three days of digital sobriety”, we greeted, before I slipped, “Let’s treat ourselves to a movie night! ” Gasping. Choke on tiramisu. Retraction. “No, whatever, we can’t. Moments later, we retired to the villa and noticed that the town team had left a surprise farewell gift of wine and chocolate covered strawberries. Gasping. Screw the detox and reschedule my gastric band appointment for Monday. Let’s have fun. And that’s what we did, and it was beautiful. Like the bearded woman in The Greatest Showman, it’s me, harvesting another dessert as I pressed the remote and felt the LED light sizzle on my face. No regrets.

Chase dorsett

Day four: take-out meals

As I walked out of Banyan Hall, I gathered what I had learned. First, that 50% of my online searches (“What is Doja Cat’s real name?” “) are useless to me in the real world and I should really spend this time take in the real world. Second, my husband is a fantastic photographer and I am considering selling him on Flytograph. And third, technology is not a one-size-fits-all rule. There are aspects that are vital in modern day-to-day life, such as working or staying in touch with loved ones. And then there are aspects that must be consumed responsibly. We should not deny his pleasures, but rather than allow him to steal precious time from us, exploit it as an improvement. This digital detox taught us to set limits, to prioritize ourselves and The breathtaking setting of Bayan Tree, and if the ambiance calls for a touch of entertainment, simply ask yourself this: What would Alexa do?


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