My First Time Staying At A Hotel That “Forces” You To Disconnect

I’m in Easter Island at the moment, and am staying at Explora Rapa Nui, which is generally regarded as the best hotel here. While it’s not cheap, they were running a promotion when we booked, and the value is much better than I was expecting.

It’s a beautiful boutique hotel, and everything is included — that includes cocktails, wine, cappuccinos, all your meals, airport transfers, guides to show you everything, etc. When we leave we’ll probably not have spent a dime other than the nightly rate at the hotel. Based on my initial impressions I can’t recommend Easter Island and also Explora enough (they also have properties in the Atacama Desert, Patagonia, etc.). But there is one big catch…

Before coming to Easter Island I knew that wifi here was extremely slow across the board, and I had seen on Explora’s website that they only have wifi in public areas. Okay, I figured this was due to the challenges associated with wifi in Easter Island. However, as it turns out, this is a policy at all Explora properties. In order to maximize relaxation, they don’t offer wifi or TVs in guest rooms (the latter I couldn’t care less about). Furthermore, I should note that while there’s technically data in some areas of the island, in reality there’s no service almost everywhere, including the hotel. So when you’re in your room, you’re literally disconnected from the outside world.

This is something I haven’t dealt with in years. Let me acknowledge that I get that I’m different than most. I love my “job,” and I don’t ever take a day off. While others only get a couple of weeks of vacation per year but are then able to disconnect, that’s not how I travel. I’m constantly working, but at the same time I also have the benefit of doing so from anywhere in the world. It’s a tradeoff for sure, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.

Since I’m sort of “addicted” to work, this puts me in an interesting position. Easter Island is an active place, and Explora has an agenda for you all day. You have breakfast, then go on an excursion, then come back for lunch, then go on another excursion, and then come back for dinner.

So my plan was to just get up super early, as I usually would. The problem is that the public facilities don’t really open until 7AM, so my only option is to sit on the floor outside near the lobby prior to that, which isn’t terribly comfortable.

I’m curious how you guys feel about hotels that “force” disconnecting as a concept. On one hand I appreciate where they’re coming from, and I acknowledge that I’m an outlier and need to get better at disconnecting. At the same time, it’s one thing not to have internet or TV, but given the lack of even a phone signal, you’re completely disconnected when in your room. I also tend to think that it’s best to give people as many options as possible. If someone doesn’t want to use wifi, they don’t have to use it.

But a lot of people who travel (and especially those staying at expensive hotels) do need to work, and disconnecting for extended periods isn’t an option. Everyone else here certainly seems fine with it, but then again, we seem to be the only people staying here who aren’t retired.

So I apologize if posts are a bit light over the next couple of days. I’m also curious how you guys feel about the concept of hotels forcing you to disconnect — do you like being forced to disconnect, or are you annoyed by the lack of choice?

Comments

  1. Enjoy the down time. You can still do your work offline and email them to your team behind you to post on your behalf when you do have wifi.

  2. I like the idea, (you don’t go to Easter Island because its’ the epicenter of trading and commerce) but there are some people out there, like yourself, who absolutely LOVE their job, where being connected depends on their living and livelihood (including being able to stay at an expensive resort on Easter Island) and don’t just use the internet for YouTube and porn.

    I think there should be a way to request wi-fi in your room for those who really need it, like a rollaway. Perhaps via a Mi-Fi hotspot or just giving you a router at check-in. But then maybe everybody would request it, so perhaps it’s a moot point! 🙂

  3. How about reading a book? 🙂 Also, certainly you can probably get your writing done without being connected to the Internet, can’t you? If you really must have Internet at every hotel at which you stay, I would suggest checking in advance whether the hotel has Internet available in the room.

  4. I don’t buy that excuse lol. More users would certainly slow down a wifi with limited capacity due to the island’s geographic location.

  5. Enjoy the down time. I think 2012 when I went to Easter Island was the last time I was truly “disconnected” from the world. You’ll survive.

  6. It sounds horrible. While I like that they keep you busy every day, I also like to stay mentally busy. I don’t work on vacation, but I do enjoy reading the news, keeping up with my friends, getting pictures of my dog emailed to me etc. I generally avoid beach locations or wellness retreats that think you need to relax to have a good vacation. I agree that offering WiFi and TVs presents people with a choice, and that means that all your guests can enjoy themselves.

  7. Isn’t this a weird way to experience Easter Island, super lux? Strikes me as totes inappropes.
    A little more primitive might be more in tune with this amazing wonder of the world.

    Joni Mitchell’s lyrics need an update. They paved paradise, and put up a boutique hotel.

  8. Wifi or not, an island where they instruct you to leave, when you depart, the rental car in the (open, no barrier) airport parking lot with the key on the seat, is deconnection enough. My reflex question “But you do not worry that it can be stolen?” was answered with a big laugh and the reply “To go WHERE ?”

  9. Really? Nobody is forcing you to disconnect. You choose to stay weather or not hosted. There are plenty hotels who do have wifi everywhere.

    PS. I have been on the island and its awesome.

  10. I’d say it’s not really forced disconnection if one chooses to stay there though. They’d likely know what they were getting into ahead of time right?

    And go out and enjoy yourself Lucky! I don’t think your readers would blame you if you took a few days off and only posted a story or two a day here.

  11. I think having one or two places in the world where you simply cannot connect is A Good Thing.

    It’s not as if any of us *has* to go to Easter Island, is it?

    Though I am hugely jealous that you have got there – it’s been on my bucket list for centuries.

  12. Relax and enjoy the down time. We will survive without daily posts. We all need to have digiatl detox times in our lives

  13. “If someone doesn’t want to use wifi, they don’t have to use it.” – Lucky, there is broad consensus in the scholarly literature (and there is plenty of it by now, since about thee, four years even with sufficient empirical data) that this is simply not the case. Connectivity is set up in such a way that people are supposed to become addicted (like the added nicotine in cigarettes) by the firms that make money from this; we are conditioned into this need. And more and more so: We do have time series over the years e.g. of German students that have a clear reduction of time they can spend offline without developing physical symptoms such as palpitations, sweaty hands etc. ICT and its gadgets are not tools; “they” “use” us to a considerable extent. (And both mainstream fashion and an inflated sense of one’s own importance and that of one’s work increase the chance that we don’t even question this.) This is what we used to call “addiction”, but it is too wide-spread today to usefully employ that term. And if you do not have the choice to connect or not, because you must when you can, then environments where you can’t are the only option for normal people to stay disconnected.

  14. @ Ben — I cannot believe you selected this hotel. Why not just go to Disneyland? I’m not trying to be mean, but c’mon Ben, this place is a total ripoff and you are missing an authentic experience.

  15. I really don’t see how they force you to disconnect. If there was indeed wifi in the room and they prevented you to use it, then yes. But if they advertise that there is no wifi in the room, you basically put yourself in this situation so you really can’t blame them ;). If you need wifi, pick a place that offers it, easy.
    I personally am a big fan of hotels that have a concept and go all in on it, so if this place is about being disconnected and relaxation, by all means they should do it that way. I could totally see myself booking a place like that, because not only I wouldn’t be able to connect but I wouldn’t have to deal with people yelling on their phone, nose diving on their screen the whole time, or taking selfies at every corner. It’s meant to enjoy the moment, and it’s really a great thing to do – you should try 🙂 .

  16. I would think that Easter Island is a bucket list destination where you go in order to find out something about yourself and your place in the world through history and remote beauty. Not really a place to go if you want to rate the breakfast buffet, the gym, or the brand of bathroom amenities etc. I say: welcome the disconnect! And write a great review when you get back to the madness everywhere else. Oh, and don’t forget to read a good book (the kind with printed pages) while you’re there!

  17. Lucky, I really enjoy your blog and read it nearly daily. The one thing that gets me, however, is your over-insistence that you are constantly working. I understand that you love your work, you work hard, and it requires all that work to bring your wonderful blog to us every day. But we’ve all given over far too much to capitalism in the form of increased productivity and increasingly low wages. We don’t need on top of that a strange social competition to out-busy one another. Enjoy the idle time and take as much as you can.

  18. I don’t recall many people being on Easter Island for business when I was there, so I doubt it’s as big of a problem for most visitors as you make it out to be. I also greatly depend on internet access for work, news, communicating with friends and colleagues, etc…, but I honestly don’t even remember not having connectivity at Explora. I was having too great of a time to be bothered.

    For those complaining about Explora as a hotel choice, I couldn’t disagree more. Yes, it’s a luxury hotel, and no, it’s not some isolated island bungalow where one communes with nature. That said, the hotel is eco-friendly, comfortable, and extremely well run. They make a huge effort to hire as many Rapa Nui people as possible instead of other Chileans, and that made an enormous difference when it comes to the guides for the excursions. The guides were genuine locals that grew up on the island, so they weren’t just regurgitating history; they were telling stories of their home and their heritage. The Explora Rapa Nui is definitely amongst my top 5 favorite vacations ever, and I did more hiking in my short 3-night visit than I probably did the rest of that year.

  19. I agree with the person who said things about the studies that connectivity is akin to an addiction. There are also studies that show that doing literally nothing and being disconnected are very, very healthy (even if you love your job).

    For your next party trick, I dare you to really disconnect. Cause you aren’t disconnected. There’s still people around you, there’s WiFi in the common areas (so if you choose to invest the time to use it you can, but there’s an opportunity cost there). So here’s my suggestion: find a remote National Park (I recommend Pictured Rocks or Acadia) and go backpack for two weeks. And I mean real backpacking: no cell signal, no electricity, no indoor bathrooms, no running water, nothing you can’t carry on your back. As an introduction I’d recommend two weeks. And no satellite hotspots. That’s cheating.

  20. There are quite a few hotels at leisure destinations, which follow the same concept (wifi in lobby only). I’m regularly experiencing this around the globe, also in my home country (Switzerland). I’m fine with it.

    I’m less happy with business oriented facilities not offering internet access (such as the long distance trains in my home country).

  21. Ben, I think you are one of the very few people who go to Easter Island for business. Hotel wifi makes sense when there is likely to be a large number of guests who need it for work. A place like rapa nui is not the sort of destination that attracts the “working vacation” types.

    I also think it’s a perfectly reasonable business plan for a hotel to cater to a clientele interested in disconnecting.

  22. Or, you could’ve stayed at any of the charming guesthouses on booking.com for $50-$100 per night, all of which include airport transfers. The guesthouses are all near the town center where service/data are no problem if you’re on TMobile.

    That way, you can set your own agenda (by renting a car from the main street for about $100 per day). Also, this way you can have waterfront lunch/dinners (for about $20-$30 per person), and even at places which will serve you while you’re sitting on the small sandy areas behind the restaurants themselves.

    Its extremely easy to go around the whole island on your own instead of these excursions. More flexibility and you can move on if its raining on one side of the island etc.

    Unless you are old or cannot drive or cannot do some basic internet wikivoyage/tripadvisor/booking.com, there is absolutely no excuse for going all-inclusive.

  23. We don’t need any more posts from you while you are there. Go enjoy what the island has to offer, this sense of loneliness and being disconnected is a dream. Places like this don’t happen very often in our busy lives. I would like to see a couple of days when the priority is you and not the business. This is your chance.

  24. I loved the Explora Rapa Nui when I stayed there. Enjoy, and make sure to do a bike ride! It’s beautiful!

  25. I think in this case it is perfectly acceptable. What you’re describing doesn’t feel like a hotel. It feels like an all-inclusive lifestyle experience. I mean they schedule when you go on excursions, eat etc. and it is all-inclusive. I think them limiting connectivity is almost a part of the package they are selling. It is a controlled experienced in my opinion.

  26. Ben, enjoy the down time. Have you and Ford started to plan the wedding? This might be the best time in the quiet away from technology. Old school pencil and paper. Something to be said for that. Look forward to your reviews as this is on my bucket list.

  27. I spent two weeks in the island last year, and learned the best options for internet access. I’m not sure if Tmobile will work on the island. Only one of Chile’s four major mobile phone company’s have service on the island, and that’s Entel. The prepaid chips are cheap, as our the data bundles of 500mb. Some of the “convenience stores” sell the Entel sim chips. Just ask around, and then ask for help setting up the data bundle.

  28. I do apologize but I could not stop laughing at this post. Most of you guys probably were born after the internet. I remember no internet, over the air TV, and having to call the hotel operator to request an international call (more expensive than the room rate).

    Being disconnected is wonderful, it is about your own private time. You do not need to care what other people are posting in Facebook, Instagram, etc, not having to listen to the news about the latest presidential “act”, and the best is been able to tell the whole story about vacations to family and friends instead of publishing daily in your social media feed. Furthermore, I found it disconcerting when I am in a tour and I observe most people are completely concentrated on the phone instead of listening to the tour guide. Being disconnected is awesome.

    Now, for those that have situations that require not being disconnected; e.g. ill relative, left the kids with someone, etc; there are plenty of hotels in Easter Island. If connection if priority, then the hotel selection must reflect that. The policy of the hotel is clear, one cannot have the cake and eat it too.

  29. I travel constantly working, like Lucky, doing things I love. I cannot be out of touch. Otherwise the hotel sounds terrific.

  30. So many nice local family run hotels for literally a fraction of the price…and with adequate wifi if that is a concern. Easter Island is the last place I’d stay at a luxury chain hotel!

  31. I know the feeling as I’ve been travelling around Namibia the last couple of weeks, where cell reception is in a lot of regions non-existent and wifi, if available, unusable slow…

    Almost started developing withdrawal symptoms 🙂

  32. I am a big fan of cell phone jammers, which ensure that some locations are free of the inane conversations that now pollute our every step.

    But sometimes i wish there was a wi-fi jammer, so that people would for a minute stop gazing into their devices like a zombie, and actually pay attention to the real world

  33. Joaquin,

    So true. I once spent a month in India, back in the 1980’s, where not only were there no mobile devices or internet, but I never watched TV, listened to radio or even read a paper.

    Somehow i managed.

  34. Wilderness Safaris in Africa does this with their properties. I’ve not stayed at one since 2013 or so, but at Little Ongava they only had wireless connectivity in the main house, and in the three guest houses it wasn’t even an option, though I know they were considering it based on customer feedback.

    Personally, I love it that way, and on the rare occasion I needed to communicate with the world I was still able to text successfully.

  35. The whole point in being on Rapa Nui is to disconnect. How else are you supposed to get the full cultural experience?
    Isolation is a core component of the history and lifestyle.
    Enjoy it bro.
    The FOMO you will create can wait a few days.

  36. I agree, enjoy the downtime. It will do a world of good. Tiffany & co. Can run the show back home for a couple of days

  37. Well, welcome to the land of forcing you to disconnect. Had the same experience at Awasi Patagonia a week ago. Had to haul ass to public lounge area to send any email or catch up on Instagram and Facebook. But wifi satellite at Patagonia is even worse than Easter Island as clouds cover signals constantly. So you get this in and out connection that drives me crazy. Will be at this Explora Rapa Nui for four nights next year. I guess back to minimal internet for me again! Oh well, my Instagram followers can wait while I frolick with! 😉

  38. I suspect you’re one of those types who gets around 24/7 with an i phone or whatever in your hand glancing at it endlessly so as not to miss any piece of trivia. That’s just sad.
    On the other hand, if you want to bang out 500 words on your laptop with a few pics for work, then I can understand your frustration. Even so, the world will not come to an end if can’t do it for a day or two.

  39. Take the lack of wifi as a gift, and enjoy!

    So long as places warn you in advance about the lack of wifi, I think it’s fine not to have it – and a real advantage in terms of relaxing and socializing with the other guests, which my wife and I did at the Explora properties in Patagonia and Atacama.

    Hope you have a great week!

  40. I m confused, from what I recall from a couple months ago, my TMobile worked just fine for data everywhere, don’t u have an intl plan if you really MUST be online.

  41. That would annoy me heaps looks like i wont be going there anytime soon,and Lukcy and think its fine that you want to work and i agree at a hotel this expensive they should at least have the option or at least tv though in there defence what business traveller would go to easter island and they aim the hotel at people trying to connect and relax

  42. This is part of the essence of explora. I get it. The wife and I have been to all four explora properties (our last two since the advent of smartphones). You either buy in, or you don’t — but explora is clear about their philosophy. From my standpoint, the quality of their programs far more than offsets any inconvenience of being disconnected.

  43. Well if you really wanna connect and is mandatory for you, at midnight go to the middle of the Central Park in the city. But please make sure you bring extra blankets not to catch pneumonia like I almost did… oh and bug repellent as well. All kinds of beautiful creatures wondering around there at that time.

  44. Morgan

    Or you might take the view that maybe you need to be released from your obsession and that maybe, just maybe, you being offline for a day or two isn’t the disaster that you evidently fear.

    I hate to speak for others but there is more than a little self-importance and self-absorption being expressed here. Get over yourselves!

  45. I love the Explora Rapa Nui. The comments mischaracterizing this place? Not so much. Explora employs many native Rapa Nui on the island, rather than Spanish-origin Chileans who treat Rapa Nui like a colony, and gets guests out into the magnificent natural environment of the island. The staff are very proud of their island and keen to share it. Like all Explora lodges, it’s for active people who want to be outside for much of the day and then end it with a nice meal, a good wine, and a comfy bed.

    Rapa Nui relies on satellite connectivity for a population of 3,000 people in a part of the eastern Pacific that is not well-covered by satellite beams. It’s REMOTE. Connectivity is expensive. That might not be great for the economy, but it’s a gift for visitors who might want to escape their screens for a few days — and consider whether their electronic habits have become an addiction.

    If you want TV and broadband, you always have the option of a crappy all-inclusive resort in some place like Vegas, Cancun, or southern Florida. You would be missing the most interesting bits of the world.

  46. Lucky You! Disconnect from the addiction. You love your work ( and you do it really well) yet some screen free time to reflect and just be might could be nice? Work will always be there… if you disconnect you will have so much more to do when you connect again so that would be like a Christmas Bonus!! Enjoy the island whichever way you choose.

  47. 1. You would have known this prior to booking
    2. You still chose to book
    3. Everytime you are “forced” to disconnect you blog about it
    4. Seeing points 1 to 3 above indicates that this is a choice you make to drive page views and interactions.

  48. Don’t blame poor internet connectivity on Easter island. As others have pointed out, there are many lovely smaller local places to stay that have excellent wifi. I stayed at a small place last November, had a wonderful experience including great wifi 24/7. You made the choice to stay at that place. I would assume you considered the implications before doing so.
    You are in the most remote inhabited island in the world — being remote and disconnected is a feature. Enjoy.

  49. I think it’s ridiculous. Is there at least a 24 hour switchboard in case a guest needs to be contacted for an emergency? Even retired people have families who may need to contact them.

    Taking away the choice of being connected is treating guests like children.

  50. Ben: I’ve been going to Easter Island for more than 40 years and have stayed at most hotels and lodges. The Explora is a very nice property and it once was the best on the Island. Ever since the first hotel on the island, the Hanga Roa, was totally renovated a couple of years ago, it is by far the best. It is near the harbor, walking distance to many places of interest and it has all the luxury amenities you could wish for. I prefer to make the choice myself with regards to Internet connectivity. After more than 50 visits, Easter Island is still one of my favorite places in the world!

  51. Lol I’m not convinced about how ‘busy’ you actually are, Lucky. I think it’s more of an addiction than a genuine need at this point.
    I actually think it’s a good thing there are some places left that aren’t connected to the crazy, 24h, always-on world the rest of us live in. Same reason why WiFi on planes is not the deal-breaker it is for me as it is for some. Learn to disconnect, it’s great for your mental health.

  52. It’s crazy to me that someone who travels for a living can stay connected as much as you apparently do. I guess it’s a catch-22, because you kind of need to be connected to make your living.
    But it occurs to me that you might be missing out on some amazing adventures because of the need to be connected.
    We just went to Madagascar and South Africa (in part on SQ suites and business thanks to blogs like this), and everywhere except 2 nights in Melrose Arch we did not have Wi-Fi in room. (Extremely limited at the restaurants)

  53. Ben – I suggest you come with me to Africa next year – 2 weeks in photo safari with no wifi or cell phone availability at all.
    Not being connected is a great thing.

  54. I wouldn’t stay at a place which dictates the manner in which I should “maximize relaxation” by disconnecting my access with the outside world. I prefer to be the arbiter of my own relaxation preferences. And frankly, the prospect of being totally disconnected for those of us who have aging relatives back home who might need us in an emergency is reckless.

  55. When is the “traditional” generation going to accept that being disconnected doesn’t necessarily equate to relaxation?
    There is nothing relaxing for younger people to have no contact with the outside world– we’ve never known otherwise. That would be like taking a wristwatch away from a 55 year old– they would be lost, we wouldn’t care.

    If you want to disconnect, turn your stuff off on your own. But forcing isolation isn’t relaxing at all– why not give people the choice of how they relax? I know I -and the growing millennial generation- will not likely stay at places like these.

    And no, the traditional generation won’t last forever. You’re already dying off, so don’t act like your desires somehow trump ours.

    K thx bye.

  56. @Martin what do you mean get over yourselves? You’re talking about OUR vacation. The only thing that matters is enjoying YOURSELF on vacations like these.

    It is totally self-absorbed on your part to tell ME how to enjoy my time or relax. Just because younger people are more connected to the world, doesn’t mean that it’s a problem. Ever think that maybe you have a mediocrity problem in thinking it’s ok to ignore problems and relationships “until you get back.”

    You enjoy your isolated vacation. I will enjoy my connected vacation. If you can’t decide when to put your phone down during vacation, that’s a personal problem. But do not tell other people when it’s appropriate.

  57. Even at hotels that have wifi available inside the rooms the internet is often too slow to be truly useful on Easter Island. I’m surprised you isolated yourself from the real island at this resort though. You really missed out on quite a lot.

  58. I don’t care about being disconnected; I like it that other people are disconnected. They might even be inclined to look up and smile, maybe have a conversation, make a new friend? When (if) you travel to a place where is there is no internet, you’ll know what I mean. People are open and seeking to interact with you rather than their smartphone.

  59. Ben, did you book directly through the Explora site to find the deal? Would love to try them but every time I’ve seen their prices they’re a bit beyond ridiculous for me.

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