Our weekly series: A Night Less Ordinary is all about finding the most weird and wonderful hotels all over the world. From a James Bond hotel room, to sleeping underwater expect the unexpected. This week, we have a night less ordinary at the Giraffe Manor in Kenya.
The WOW factor? The Giraffe Manor which is part of the Tamimi Group lets you get as close to a giraffe as you’re ever likely to get in your life. The Manor is a luxury hotel with its own herd of Rothschild Giraffe who wander around the property, nudging at your breakfast and generally being super cool new friends. The nature trail around the hotel goes through forests and dry lands and as well as giraffes it’s a natural habitat for warthogs, hyenas, different species of birds and every so often a leopard, so you’ll get up close and personal with all kinds of animals.
Do you check Facebook before you even get dressed in the morning? Dn’t worry, you can tell us. Do you need to kick your Twitter habit? Or simply relax from Reddit? Are you naked without your smartphone? You need a digital detox!
We’re guessing the thought of going offline for a few days is a little scary, but hear us out. With attention spans dropping and internet addiction on the rise, a tech free holiday is meant to inspire, re-energize and improve your mood. If nothing else, it will at least make you feel popular when you return to a bunch of emails and status updates.
Unplug your computer and head for a little tech free treat, with our top 7 digital detox holidays.
Off the grid weekends in the USA
These Digital Detox guys are spearheading the trend, they think of everything. No watches, computers, phones; devices of any kind are checked from the arrival. This retreat is about recharging your batteries, but not the online kind. Digital Detox offers yoga, meditation, writing workshops (using a pen and paper!) a completely tranquil environment along with healthy simply food. It makes an ideal place to unwind and get inspired.
Distance to wi-fi: it’s not that far, but it’s under lock and key until the retreat ends.
Elephant watching in Kenya
You’re in the middle of the desert, silently watching out for an elephant, a once in a lifetime opportunity, when suddenly a phone interrupts everything and scares Nelly and everything in a 3 mile radius away. If there was a place on earth where phones should be banned, it must be at the Elephant Watch Safari Camp. You don’t want to be *that* person, do you?
Distance to wi-fi: at least a couple of miles. Don’t bother lugging that laptop.
Digital Detox in the Caribbean
The paradise like islands of St Vincent and the Grenadines in the Caribbean are serious about the digital detox, asking guests to completely surrender all their tech gadgets on arrival. Hotels around the islands have no TVs, while you’ll be frowned on if you whip out your phone on the beach. It even provides pre-holiday advice on how to survive without technology.
Nearest wi-fi: you will find some access, but your neighbours won’t be impressed.
Enjoy the high life in Morocco
High up in the exquisite Atlas Mountains of Morocco, along with simply stunning scenery, you’ll find a haven of computer free activities at the Kasbah Bab Ourika like expert yoga classes, morning hikes through wild lavender fields, and clear mountain air that makes up for being offline. Don’t worry, it’ll all be waiting for you when you get back.
Distance from wi-fi: How often have you gotten good wi-fi signal up the side of a mountain?
Family tech free in Jamaica
Try Jakes Hotel, it has it all, or rather we should say it hasn’t it all. All of the cottages are without wi-fi, TVs or telephones. This place is about getting completely relaxed at the perfect beaches nearby, finding the ideal masseuse at the spa, or simply taking some time to enjoy life at the ‘chicest shacks in the Caribbean.’
Distance to wifi: Ok, if you really need it, you might find signal in the hotel lobby.
Get beached in Phi Phi
If you’ve seen that movie The Beach, you’ll remember the picture perfect cove, where a bunch of travellers decided to live in idyllic surroundings. Completely removed from society, it was the perfect balm for escaping the rat race (until things turned a little sour, but the less said about that the better!) The beaches in Phi Phi may not be as deserted as they once were, but they are definitely about as tech free as you’ll find in Thailand.
Distance to wi-fi: You’ll be lucky to find patchy reception in some of the bars, but this isn’t one of the big all-encompassing resorts, so you might even forget you once owned a phone!
Surf the Aegean not the web
The cruising season in the Greek Islands lasts from May to October. It’s a place to switch off – because you don’t have any choice. Helping out on a boat is hard work, even if it’s simply sunbathing on deck, (that’s helping isn’t it?) Typically, you’ll travel around the likes of Rhodes, Mykonos, and Santorini. Wi-fi is at a minimum on board, so why not go to the whole hog and leave your phone back in Britain.
Distance from wi-fi: Of course when you land on the islands you’ll find plenty of places to plug in, but a tech free holiday is just what you make it, so switch off and check your mail when you get home.
City running: The New York City run is one of the top marathons around the world, with plenty of space for spectators. Around two million people throng the city streets each year just to cheer on their favourites. Entries are by lottery, so get your application in by April for your chance to run through all five boroughs. (November 10, 2013.)
Ice, Ice, Baby: The Antarctic Ice Marathon is one for the hardcore. Running on ice with temperatures dropping below 0, it’s certainly one for the absolutely committed… and a little crazy! (November 20, 2013.)
Desert Running: From one extreme to another, how about a six stage trek through the Sahara in Morocco. Temperatures can top 100 degrees, sandstorms can temporarily blind you and there are no shops to stop and pick up a handy bottle of water, all your supplies go on your back. (March 17, 2013)
Safari Marathon: A double loop around Kenya’s Lewa Wildlife Conservancy will take you past zebras, giraffes and plenty of other wildlife. Try not to worry too much about lions and tigers – rangers and helicopters are on hand to rescue any runners that might come a cropper. (June 22, 2013.)
Great Wall adventure: How often will you get to walk on the Great Wall of China, let alone race along it? You’ll certainly feel like you’ve completed a workout over the gruelling but picturesque 5164 steps and paths. (May 18, 2013.)
The classic: The Athens City Marathon is the stuff of legend, literally. The home of the first ever marathon, it follows the route of a messenger who was delivering the news of Greece’s victory in the Battle of Marathon. It’s told he made his winning cry before collapsing on arrival in Athens. Today, the epic run finishes in the historic Olympic Stadium in the centre of the city. (November 10, 2013.)
Rookie runners:The Walt Disney World Half Marathon weekend is a good place to start for beginner runners. You can take the kids for an adventure of a lifetime and get a family run in at the same time. (February 22-24, 2013)
Rural running: The Connemarathon in Ireland will take you over mountains, glacier lakes, bogs and rolling hills and countryside of the West Coast. A great way to discover the Emerald Isle running a marathon with a difference. (April 7, 2013.)
Visit Purple Travel now to find out more about holidays with a difference.
The Kenya Lake System in the Great Rift Valley has to be seen to be believed. It’s made up of three shallow lakes– Bogoria, Nakuru and Elmenteita. Each of the alkaline lakes is a a protected area and is home to different ecosystems filled with flowers, fauna, birds and animals. The best bit, (we think!) is the huge influx of flamingos that arrive en masse every year. The lesser flamingos arrive in their millions to breed creating one of the world’s most spectacular displays.
This pink bird loves to eat the blue-green algae found at the lakes and it is virtually alone in its taste for this rich harvest. And it’s not just flamingos, the lakes are home to 13 endangered bird species, and larger animals, like the black rhino, wild dogs, lions and cheetahs who wander the shores of the lake.
Whether you’re an old pro at travelling with children, or this is your first trip with a new baby, it can be a daunting experience. How to keep them busy for two weeks and not go stir crazy yourself, will the food be alright, will there be other kids to play with and will the facilities be up to scratch? If you haven’t really thought it through and would like some ideas, then stay tuned for some top picks for family holidays abroad.
Young cheetahs in Masai Mara (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Let your little ones take a walk on the wild side in Kenya. Imagine introducing your young one to the stunning scenery of Africa, seeing gazelles rave across the planes, or elephants feeding in their natural habitat. The Masai Mara is probably the best known safari destination and there you could get the chance to see the so called big five: lions, elephants, rhinos, buffaloes and leopards. Not for the faint hearted, it’s all early starts, and a little bit of roughing it, so maybe it’s best to wait ‘til your budding zoo keepers are a little older before heading to Kenya.
Tunisia’s well known for practically year round sunshine, so if you’re after a couple of hours on the beach every day, dig out your bucket and spade and get going. Hammamet is a great choice, because there are a tonne of kid friendly activities, from clubs, babysitters and crèches. Older children will love the food, evenings of football training, singing, dancing and making plenty of new friends. If you’re the nerdy type of mum or dad, why not take a day trip to the Sahara desert, where you can check out the sets of some of the Star Wars films among others. Well, if it works for us…!
The stunning island of Antigua in the Caribbean might be a bit of a trek, but it’s so worth it. Antigua prides itself on being home to enough beautiful beaches that you could visit a different one every day of the year. It’s incredibly low key and relaxed, and is a perfect place to spend some quality time together. If you fancy a bit of activity, Half Moon Bay is fab for snorkelling, while Stingray City is an aquarium with a difference. Children are encouraged to stick their hands in the tanks and get up, close and personal with the tropical fish. It might not be a top choice for mum and dad, but we reckon youngsters will love it.
Praia da Galé; Albufeira, Algarve, Portugal (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Portugalis surely one of the most family friendly holiday hot spots around. From the historic capital Lisbon, to the long stretches of sand on the islands of Madeira or the Azores Archipelago, there’s something to impress even the pickiest child. We think the old reliable Algarve is a top choice. There are water slide parks to beat the band, top notch sandy beaches to spend lazy days and a great range of family friendly accommodation options. Albufeira is a top pick for its lovely Old Town, with views right out across the ocean, a beautiful, sandy beach and great atmosphere.