Seeking solitude: the rise of isolation holidays
Isolation is a word rarely associated with today’s world. Thanks to social media, smartphones, emails and the internet, it’s easier than ever to stay connected – and harder than ever to unplug. According to an Ofcom report, the average Brit spends more than a day a week online; our trusty phones checked once every 12 minutes.
A long-haul flight can’t promise escapism either. Wi-Fi is now common on flights, while internet connections can even be found in parts of the Amazonian jungle. The world is shrinking – destinations once deemed exotic are now visited by the mass market – forcing affluent holidaymakers to search even farther afield to find unspoiled privacy.
It’s no surprise, then, that isolation and escapism are increasingly top of the list when it comes to travellers’ wishes. A holiday is, after all, designed to be utterly indulgent – and, these days, time and space are luxuries in themselves. For Aman Resorts, it’s a trend the brand has been tapping into for years. “We have found that our guests want to truly switch off and disconnect,” says global head of sales Christina Deeny. “That’s why our mission to create hideaways in remote locations is a formula which still stands true today.”
Aman’s Amangiri resort in Utah, for example, lies nestled within the sprawling desert of the American Southwest. Rubbing shoulders with the largest Native American reservation in the US, views from the concrete‑clad hotel take in rolling dunes, untouched plateaus and dramatic mountain ridges – and not a whole lot else.
Unsurprisingly, private islands also continue to be popular among those seeking seclusion. Situated 300km northeast of Singapore and accessible only by seaplane, Bawah Reserve in Indonesia’s remote Anambas archipelago is escapism embodied. Home to just 35 villas and overwater bungalows, Bawah’s six islands, 13 beaches and three lagoons are there to be explored by an exclusive number of guests.
Aman offers two private island resorts – Amanpulo on Pamalican Island in the Philippines and Amanwana on Moyo Island in Indonesia – while Small Luxury Hotels of the World (SLH) boasts Calala Island, a private residence off Nicaragua’s east coast, in its collection. An hour’s flight from Managua to Bluefields and two hours by boat, Calala is a 10-acre island with just four beachfront suites. “We have noticed a multitude of luxury hotels popping up in areas that are famed for nothing but their couldn’t-be-anywhere-else landscapes,” says SLH chief executive Jean-François Ferret.
But castaway islands lie closer to home too. Luxury operator Carrier, which dedicated part of its ‘Discover You’ turn‑of‑year campaign to clients who consider themselves ‘escapists’, can whisk clients off to Tagomago in Ibiza. This 148-acre private island is a short boat ride from the Spanish party hotspot and home to just one five-bedroom villa.
Carrier also offers stays at a private, fully-serviced, igloo-inspired tent in Iceland. Clients seeking remoteness can have their tent pitched wherever they like, with previous spots including a glacier, beside a waterfall and even by a lava field. “We now live in a digital-driven world and we know that sometimes people need to take some time out, go off grid and ‘escape’, even if only for a short while,” says the operator’s head of marketing, Natasha Towey.
For Abercrombie & Kent, the trend translates into immersive travel experiences far away from conventional attractions. In the Amazon, guests can visit the restricted indigenous territories of Brazil with a visit to Kayapo Camp, open exclusively to the luxury specialist for just two months of the year (May‑July). Customers can hike through trails in the Amazon with Kayapo Warriors and learn about their hunting techniques, before sleeping in a tent pitched by the Iriri River.
But while some operators pinpoint far-flung destinations, Kuoni believes high-end clients don’t necessarily wish to be marooned in their quest for isolation. “Customers seek privacy in their own accommodation, but with the reassurance of the services of a resort close by,” maintains Sheena Paton, senior product and purchasing manager.
Whatever isolation means to you or your client, it’s clear there’s never been a better time to embrace it.