At a recent Entrepreneurs' Organization retreat on the remote Panamanian island of Coco Blanco, Joshua Hebert, CEO of Magellan Jets, dropped off the grid for a weekend. He gave up his phone, computer and even all electricity in the hopes of reconnecting with something other than a device.
The results of the trip surprised him: "It was so tranquil -- just me and the sound of the waves crashing. For once, I stopped thinking about work and thought hard about the importance of a work/life balance." Best of all, he says, "I was so rejuvenated that I returned to the mainland full of new ideas. Evidently, if you give your brain time to relax, ideas will come later."
Going offline has become particularly important for business travelers and top executives, many of whom oppose the introduction of Wi-Fi on planes and trains. Being in transit has become a sanctuary free from email and phone calls.
Now, both business and leisure travelers can disconnect even more on their trips, thanks to the growing number of extreme retreats that let guests unplug and reboot without accessing technology. These can range from dedicated retreat lodges and resorts that will adapt to a guest's wishes to go 100% tech-free to 19th-century schooners and religious monasteries. Being remote is a plus, but not required these days. What counts is that electronic connectivity to the outside world is limited -- or in some places, even banned.
Perhaps Noah Barnes, captain of the historic Maine schooner Stephen Taber, sums it up best: "There are many ways to artificially remove the ability to connect -- the trick is to completely erase the desire."
Here are our five regional picks for the best extreme retreats:
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