Filed under: Luxury Travel & Hotels
Here's a fun one: The Lorien Hotel (managed by Kimpton) in Alexandria, Virginia, is offering a Social Media Detox package, designed to get you off of Facebook, Twitter and any other network that you're currently addicted to, and out into the world of human interaction.
While I was at first imagining that they'd borrowed some cellphone jamming technology from their not-so-far-off US intelligence neighbors -- was this relatively new hotel built with a Faraday cage in its structure? -- it turns out that the Lorien is relying on more of a carrot than stick approach.
The Social Media Detox package includes various incentives to step away from the internet, including a 10 minute chair massage at the hotel's spa, a $20 credit to BRABO or BRABO Tasting Room just next to the hotel for appetizers and drinks with friends. (Suggested cocktail: "The Face to Face", which is Belvedere vodka, pear puree, apple juice, lime juice and fresh rosemary.) There's also a push to get you out into the real world: you'll also receive a walking map of town, or if you prefer, they'll let you borrow a bicycle, gratis, and give you a route map. At night, the package includes an item off the hotel's "Dream Service" menu -- if you're traveling alone, you could select the teddy bear, who will be happy to hear your whispered, otherwise wasted, witty status updates.
(Since you'll still probably be pacing all night long, I'd go ahead and book the Presidential Suite, which has a 550 square foot private terrace overlooking Old Town Alexandria, and runs about $550 a night.)
It's not all teddy bears and sunshine, however. You'll only get the package's $25 certificate towards a future stay at the hotel if you prove "non-activity" on Facebook or Twitter, which you do via print out from an in-room computer or cellphone.
Clever, huh? Personally, as a frequent traveler, I think I'd feel much more stressed out not being able to be in contact with my friends and family on Facebook -- since it's replaced email communication for so many people, I wonder what the response would be if a hotel decided to offer a package contingent on not emailing or calling home? (In fact, there are programs like that: Outward Bound and the National Outdoor Leadership School, although they don't include massages and cocktails.) On the other hand, I'm sure I could be persuaded to let Twitter go for a few days. Especially if I got a teddy bear.
Filed under: Spirits
All you have to do is register the purchase number found with the bottle at www.laphroaig.com/plot to stake your claim. You will then automatically become a member of the Friends of Laphroaig community and will receive the deed to the numbered plot of land.
Friends are encouraged to visit the distillery to view their plot and claim their "rent" – a dram of Laphroaig. Meanwhile at www.laphroaig.com you can now view aerial photographs to find your plot of land and meet your "neighbors" via an interactive member map. You may discover a fellow Laphroiag enthusiast just down the street and can even send them a private message.
There are more than 364,000 Friends of Laphroaig spread across more than 150 countries registered online. Among the site's many features is Laphroaig TV, offering a look inside the distillery as well as exclusive previews of limited-edition bottlings, live online tastings and educational seminars.
Laphroaig, established in 1815, is one of the richest, smokiest single malts and one of the very best Scotches ever produced. It holds a Royal Warrant from the Prince of Wales and bears his heraldic three-feather badge on its label.
Filed under: Cigars
Remember when you'd walk into a restaurant and be asked, "Smoking or non?" If you answered the former, you'd be escorted to a dedicated portion of the floor where you could light up before, during or after your meal. This ritual is disappearing in the physical world, but it's springing up online, where a "virtual smoking section" is taking form, connecting cigar smokers from around the world.
Obviously, there are plenty of resources on the web for the cigar community. The major industry publications, such as Smoke and Cigar Aficionado publish to the web, even with some exclusive content. Retailers – both brick-and-mortar and online pure-play – are numerous, and there are too many cigar blogs to count. The growth of social media has taken the online cigar community to a new level, though. The same utilities that enable 140-character conversations and elaborate digital friendship interconnections have emerged around the "fellowship of the leaf."
It may look as though the real world banishment imposed on smokers – first to smoking sections and then to cigar shops only ... or not at all – may be moving onto the internet. After all, everyone on Twitter can smell @DylanAustin's Camacho Select, right? Well, nobody wants to see or hear cigar chatter, even if it is self-selecting.
But, I wouldn't rush to celebrate or lament an online smokers' quarantine. Instead, we're contributing to venues that focus exclusively on our interests. We're opting in, not being forced out.