As much as I adore the digital world and the incredible opportunities it brings, admittedly sometimes, it can be a little all consuming. I awake with my phone already in my clasped palm, scrolling through Instagram as I blink open my eyes and checking for Twitter updates as I spoon my breakfast into my mouth, rather mindlessly. And I’d hate to admit, when the likes start rolling in after a particularly witty* tweet (*well, sort of) there is some sort of strange addictive gratification that is somewhat engrained in all of our lives.
Social media is amazing though. It has created a plethora of new and exciting jobs and has allowed us to inspire, connect and create like never before. We can share ideas, build our own brands and become businesswomen in our own right. There’s no doubting that it’s a fantastic tool.
However as with anything, too much of a good thing can be bad. And recently, I’ve found myself all consumed by social media and the blogosphere. Although I try hard not to, I compare myself to others, wonder why recent posts aren’t getting as much engagement, even though I’m putting in double the effort and I jot down ideas on how to differentiate myself in such a saturated social market. And as much as I enjoy this, it can sometimes sap the ‘real life’ fun out of you.
So, in the run up to Christmas, I decided I needed a digital detox. A week of no internet, no Instagram and no social media whatsoever. Previous attempts had only lasted 12 hours – so I figured I’d need to be somewhere distracting. And Mexico seemed like the perfect place – combining a touch of winter sun with pure relaxation – free from technology.
We booked a relatively spontaneous 7 day trip with Virgin Holidays – and awaited departure day with excited anticipation. While I have been super lucky to travel a lot this year (Mexico marked my 8th trip abroad), 7 of the previous adventures were all blogging related and so although I’ve ventured to some incredible places, I never felt I could fully switch off and relax at my destination. So we decided to free ourselves of all blogging commitments for the trip of course, which meant funding it entirely ourselves – so please don’t think this is sponsored, even if I am overly complimentary of the places I stayed – I just loved it!
In case you fancy booking your own winter sun digital detox (even if you don’t detox for the entire trip – because like me, I caved after the 5th day and HAD to Instagram some of the amazing shots we got!), I thought I’d put together a little fact sheet on where we stayed, what we got up to and why I’d recommend Mexico!
Since the primary purpose of our trip was to relax, we wanted somewhere tranquil, beautiful and as luxurious as possible. Virgin Holidays don’t disappoint when you’re looking to price up options – as they seem to scout out only the most gorgeous locations for your perusal. We picked up one of their catalogues (old school, I know) and flicked through to get a feel for what we wanted. Eventually, we decided that we wanted to stay at an adults only resort, have an all inclusive package and be beside the beach. The all inclusive aspect was to take away having to budget for food and drink when you’ve arrived at your destination, which is always another unnecessary stress that can easily be taken away from a holiday by choosing this option.
One place that ticked all of our boxes was Secrets Silversands Cancun, situated just 20 minutes away from Cancun town centre (in case partying is your thing), 20 minutes from the airport and a 10 second walk from the beach. In fact that last part is a lie, because it’s probably more like 5.
But anyway, with a plethora of incredible photographs online, teamed with a collection of positive reviews on Trip Advisor, we didn’t need much more persuasion and booked that same day.
The Secrets resorts collection is renowned in that part of the world for their high quality food, luxurious locations and stunning decor. I’d heard amazing things about their sister hotels from a number of friends, which is always a good sign – and luckily, Silversands didn’t disappoint in the flesh either.
From start to finish, our stay was spectacular. From our arrival at dusk, where we were picked up in a big SUV and driven up the incredible driveway, lit with hundreds of tiny lights in the ground and on the walls, giving the effect of a twinkling night sky – to the Mango Joe cocktails on tap (a delicious concoction of frozen mango juice, rum, banana and grenadine). Every tiny detail was considered and perfected – meaning you never had to even lift a finger. Unless you wanted to join in with the salsa lessons by the pool at lunchtime or grab something from the traditional BBQ – whose delicious summer-inducing aromas tempted you from afar.
I thought I’d struggle with my various intolerances (I don’t eat dairy or eggs) since the all inclusive aspect often means there are a few buffets involved – which always prove quite troublesome. Luckily this wasn’t the case at all and each of Silversands 7 restaurants served me something special to ensure I wasn’t missing out. Whether it was providing a special mix of chicken fajitas or removing the rum butter from the mahi-mahi fish or even creating a soy milk, cinnamon and sugar french toast for breakfast. They had it covered. Which of course meant that I could sit back, relax and enjoy the sun, something I’ve never before experienced in December!
It was rather bizarre seeing somewhere so summery and hot all jazzed up for the festive season, with a number of sky high pine trees dotted around the resort, all dressed up to make sure we weren’t missing out on any Christmas fun. However I’m pretty sure it’s something I could get used to, as it made for a pleasant change to be sipping a cocktail in a bikini rather than swigging a hot chocolate by the fire, in a million layers.
How to make sure you stick to your digital detox
As much as we wanted a relaxing holiday which involved doing absolutely nothing, putting the extra digital detox ban on myself meant that sometimes, I got itchy feet and needed to do something a bit more exciting to keep me busy. Thankfully, the hotel had plenty of activities to get involved in – with salsa classes, aqua aerobics, aqua spinning classes, volleyball, romantic beach photo-shoots, themed nights, circus shows and spanish language lessons.
However, keen to venture out of the resort to explore Cancun a little more – we booked an evening at Coco Bongo, which promised to offer ‘nightlife better than Vegas’. In hindsight, anywhere that has to make this kind of claim is probably lying – but we went with the hype and spent the best part of $260 on ‘VIP’ tickets to their show.
To cut a long story short, the night thereafter played out totally different to how we’d expected it to. I’m not a big party-goer (in fact, my ideal night is spent at home, with a pizza, chocolate and a girly film or a book) but I figured it would be interesting to experience how Mexican’s like to party. Plus the promise of some spectacular shows and performances with music from Moulin Rouge, Chicago, Phantom of the Opera and Madonna kept me interested. At its worst, I thought it would be a good laugh. In reality, it was a bizarre compilation of terrible miming, out of time dancing by scantily-clad girls who looked bored and slightly bemused and then to top it off, watered down drinks and shot girls hounding you to pour tequila into their mouths. So. odd.
But anyway, sorry to put a downer on things – but if you are planning a winter sun getaway to Cancun, give Coco Bongo a miss and save yourself some money! Apparently the Playa del Carmen version is better as it features more local dancers – but I thought I’d include this in here anyway – because I’d hate for someone else to waste the same money we did! Plus, if you’re staying at Silversands – the evening performances, live music and shows are 100% better than if you go elsewhere.
How to switch off completely
I’ll admit, it does take a few days to completely switch off from all the temptations of digital life. It’s almost automatic to want to kill time scrolling through Instagram however I’d recommend leaving your phone on aeroplane mode in your hotel room’s safe to resist – and take a good book with you to the pool. Reading is one of the best ways I’ve found to escape, switch off and unwind. I’ve always loved escaping into a totally new world, conjuring up the images of your characters in your head and drifting off into another dimension.
Depending on what sort of thing you like, I’d recommend Dark Places (by the author of Gone Girl) for something a little darker, with lots of twists and thrills that will keep you on the edge of your pool lounger. For something lighter but with equally as much suspense, I picked up Mile High by Rebecca Chance at the airport and loved it. And for something deeper, that explores family relationships and is destined to made you feel all the emotions – choose The Stranger in my Home by Adele Parks.
If reading isn’t your thing, perhaps getting down to earth with nature is. And Mexico certainly offers some beautiful opportunities. One of my favourite things to do when I’m feeling stressed, anxious or overwhelmed is to listen to the sea, walk barefoot on outside ground or feel the sand between my toes. There’s something so incredibly grounding about all three – and it puts things into perspective for you. Often we lose touch of what’s important or how to look after ourselves and our minds. These three simple things really help restore that. Although the latter two probably can’t be easily done in the UK during the winter months, which is why a little trip to Mexico might help!
And how much does it cost?
I’m a firm believer in always including the price in these kind of travel write ups, because as exciting and amazing as luxury travel is – no-one has infinite pots of cash to throw at their holiday, especially not a spontaneous adventure. And I want to make sure everything I feature is something I’d genuinely spend my money on and be able to justify the cost. Because as much as flying upper class would have been fabulous, I don’t think I’d be able to explain to my accountant why the £2,000+ extra cost per person was a necessary investment. But hey, we can dream!
Virgin Holidays can be pricey, as can Winter Sun breaks – however if you book at the right time, you can score yourself a bit of a bargain like we did. I visit their website almost daily to check out their deals section and I’m astounded by how much the price fluctuates. Tuesday is a good day to book a holiday – as is during non peak times, so I’d wait until after Christmas and maybe look into a February break?
I found our holiday package – which included flights, 7 nights accommodation, transfers, taxes and charges and all food and drink (top shelf spirits and sparkling wine included) for £1230pp. When you book, you can put down a £400 deposit and then pay the rest off each week (although the total amount has to be paid a certain number of days in advance) which is a really handy way to spread the cost. And when I looked a few weeks later, the price of this particular package had increased to £3000pp which just shows how much of a good deal you can get if you’re prepared to keep checking back!
Are you in need of a digital detox? What do you think of the concept? And have you ever been to Mexico?
This post is not sponsored or affiliated with any companies, as always, all views and opinions are my own.