by Penny Walker, The Telegraph, November 21, 2018
There’s no denying that the rise of technology and social media platforms such as Instagram have changed the way we travel. Even if you don’t use these platforms yourself, you’re almost guaranteed to encounter people striking a pose or framing a shot for the purpose of social media.
So those that do not partake in – or even go so far as to abhor – such activity may rejoice in the news that the Ayana Resort and Spa in Bali has made a bold move. It has banned the use of phones and gadgets around one of their pools.
Between the hours of 9am and 5pm, guests will no longer have to endure the endless, carefully choreographed poses staged right in front of their sun loungers, and can enjoy a peaceful digital detox instead.
On the resort’s website, Ayana claims: “The ethos of River Pool is to create a place of tranquillity, where our guests can truly relax and be ‘in the moment’. To ensure River Pool remains a haven for guests we limit the use of mobile phones, cameras, iPads, and any other electronic equipment between 9am-5pm.
“So during your time at River Pool we promise there will be no calls, no text, no pictures, and no social media – just you, River Pool and this moment!”
Which means that there will be less of this shot (which is currently rather prolific) all over Instagram.
Located near the resort’s private villas, the two-tiered pool is surrounded by double sun loungers and canvas shades. Guests can store their digital devices in nearby lockers and switch off from the outside world. Traditional games such as chess, cards, sudoku and jenga are available on request instead.
If you are really eager to capture the spot on camera, phone or tablet, do not fear. Devices are permitted at the pool between the hours of 7–9am and 5–7pm.
Talking to Telegraph Travel last month, Futurist Richard Watson predicted the end of social media: “There’s something going on where we say a destination is ‘Instagrammable’. I’m not quite sure it'll last - maybe it will even appear old fashioned one day?” he said. “I think social media will feel rather quaint in the future.”
But until that time, it seems that destinations and hotels are taking matters into their own hands.
Vienna also has a vendetta against social media. If you spy a poster promoting the Austrian capital around London in the coming weeks, you may notice the slogan: “See Vienna – not #Vienna. Enjoy the city behind your pics!”
In Vienna, the campaign was launched at the beginning of the month with a bold statement. One of the city’s most famous (and most photographed) painting, Klimt’s ‘Kiss’ in the Upper Belvedere gallery was replaced with a replica and branded with a large red hashtag. The tagline read: “See Klimt. Not #Klimt.”
Stella Rollig, the director of the gallery, said: “We decided to take part in the campaign because as a museum we find ourselves right at the heart of this tug of war between digital communications and art.
“We still want to create an environment where our visitors can experience the artworks in peace. Striking the right balance is a challenge we face every day.”
Commenting on the campaign, the Managing Director of the Vienna Tourist Board, Norbert Kettner, told the press that the aim was to encourage visitors to take a more mindful approach when experiencing the city.
“Our campaign shouldn't be seen as us railing against social media”, said Kettner. And you can see why when the tourist board’s own account has almost 100,000 followers. “What we are trying to do is use a healthy dose of humour to draw attention to Vienna's relationship with social media, while putting the focus on experiences and moments of enjoyment."
And it seems that it is not just the industry that is striving for greater authenticity. Yesterday, Instagram itself declared war on fakers, sending its bots crawling around the platform to remove spam, inauthentic (paid for) follows, likes and comments that violate its policies.
While Instagram may not be going anywhere soon, the new campaigns springing up around the world are a nice reminder to be more mindful when we travel – and put the phone away from time to time.