I planned it to be a vacation of firsts: my first trip to the Caribbean island of St. Lucia, my first time mountain biking through a jungle plantation and, modern girl that I am, my first digital detox.
That’s right; I was committing to a fun-in-the-sun week without going on the Internet or checking email, something the average person does about 60 times a day. You calling me average?
Digital detox is a growth industry. There are detox nights at bars, weekly detox camps, even detox cruises. The idea is so 2013. You disconnect from technology, face the addiction and, for a price, get coaching about effective strategies for finding balance.
My strategy was simple. I would lock up my MacBook Air and iPhone in the hotel safe and resist their gravitational pull until it was time to fly back to reality. No Facebook, no Twitter, no cloud, no apps, no texting, no smarter-than-I-am phone. My hotel space — I can’t honestly call it a room — didn’t even have a TV. Where do you go when you can’t go online? Could I survive? And if I did, would life be worth living?
It was also my first visit to Jade Mountain, a unique collection of 24 exquisitely designed private sanctuaries overlooking the 82-degree Caribbean Sea. It’s ranked as one of the finest and most luxurious hotels in the world. I got a great deal. Be happy for me.
Jade Mountain! The setting is sensational, and so is the Jade cuisine — mangos, papaya, passion fruit, almonds and, yes, chocolate — all organic and divine, from their own Emerald Gardens. The tropical weather is also sublime —even the rain feels as if it’s kissing you — and the beaches are pristine. Daily yoga. Hourly mojitos. Scuba, snorkeling, kayaking and, new this season, paddle boarding, which I found disturbing.
Why? Peeking out through the bottom of my straw, I saw more than 30 paddle boarders during my arduous week on St. Lucia, and not one of them smiled. Ever. Paddle boarding may be going the way of snowboarding. Yes, it is physically possible to stand on a modified surfboard and push yourself around the sea, but why would you?
But back to Jade Mountain, where each sanctuary has its own infinity pool with a built-in system of light therapy based on ancient ayurvedic beliefs about the healing power of color.
Blue, for example, is good for toxic cleansing and helps bring on physical and mental calmness; red stimulates creativity and helps activate your blood flow. At least that’s the theory. I can’t tell you for sure that it works, but after a week of focused relaxation in my infinity pool, my liver sent me a huge orchid plant and a new Vitamix juicer.
Each Jade Mountain sanctuary comes with three walls. What does that mean? It means your private space is completely open to the outside. There is no fourth wall — just like Bertolt Brecht’s plays. But no one can see in. You can float naked into boundless nature. You are drawn to the 3-D view of two mountain peaks, called the Pitons, which are iconic symbols of the island and available for climbing if you’re very fit.
If you’re not fit, you might exhaust yourself navigating the geometry of Jade Mountain, ingeniously devised by its owner-architect, Nick Troubetzkoy. It’s all stairs and steps, leading to dramatic bridges and private landings, and at the very top — hundreds of steps from the bottom — there is a floating spaceship of a dining room, run by kind St. Lucians who are trained to say yes.
My digital detox went perfectly. I was surprised. There were a few panicky moments on day one, when I realized I’d forgotten to leave an “I’m away” message on AOL, but once I fixed that, I simply let go. Love the one you’re with. Listen to the birds; do a little yoga; paddle a kayak; play in the sea; stare at the patterns of light that dance across the ceiling as the raindrops hit the pool and the sun explodes into ripples.
It was true R & R. And dishy, knowledgeable Joevan got me over my fear of jungle mountain biking. Can you stand to hear more next week?
ENERGY EXPRESS-O! HOTEL ROOM REDEFINED
“It was his foremost desire to create a unique living experience … to allow the onlooker to float into space and become one with … (nature).” — Karolin Troubetzkoy (executive director), about her husband, Nick