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I’m not much of a birthday person. But this year, when a friend suggested I consider getting away to a hotel to celebrate it, it sounded like nirvana.
As a travel writer, leaving my house with a suitcase to board a plane for some new adventure is a big part of my life. But when I’m not travelling, I work from home.
Typically, on those days, I wave to my husband and two sons as they head out the door to work and school, make myself a cup of coffee and settle into the calm of my home office.
Of course, that all changed in March.
That home office is now my permanent office. The coffee shops and libraries where I used to go for a change of pace aren’t available to me and I’ve gained three co-workers who are struggling with their own work from home/virtual school demands.
So a 12-hour day at a hotel – away from ringing phones, family demands, laundry piles and figuring out what’s for dinner (again?!?) – felt very necessary this year, but would it deliver what I needed?
Clinical psychologist Dr. Natasha Williams thinks so.
“It can offer rejuvenation for people who may feel stuck in a mundane routine or experience the increased frustration and irritation of being in the same surroundings and experiencing constant stress and strain,” Williams says.
But the key, she says, is a willingness to actually enjoy it.
“There has to be a certain mindset that an individual must embrace to enjoy the benefits of a daycation,” she cautions. “An individual who has difficulty with boundaries or the ability to separate work and leisure would not benefit from a daycation. Especially if they use a daycation or change of scenery to just transfer their work stress from one environment to another.”
That birthday getaway happened. I slipped out of my house mid-morning, made my way to the St. Regis hotel in downtown Toronto and checked in to a suite fit for royalty. I left my laptop at home, deleted most of my social media apps from my phone and took not one, but two long soaks in the freestanding tub. When I was hungry there was room service, but I also made sure I had some of my favourite snacks with me, my Spotify playlists cued up and my Netflix playlist ready to go. I napped, I danced, I ate, I read in bed in the middle of the afternoon, and at the end of the day I felt more like my old self than I have in months.
It was so worthwhile that I opted to try it again last week. This time I booked a room at Hotel X on Toronto’s waterfront, but like most workaholics I slipped up. Last-minute requests for meetings and surprise deadlines meant the day I’d set aside was soon peppered with obligations. It’s hard to slide into a bathtub and relax when you know you’ll have to take a Zoom call in an hour.
Still there were moments.
The hotel’s rooms boast floor-to-ceiling windows, and for someone who suffers from seasonal affective disorder, that streaming sunlight felt like candy. And without my officemates (or the kitchen pantry) around, I was more relaxed and focused on my writing.
But there were cons, too. There are only so many hours in a day, and the lack of a good time-management plan meant I had more options than time.
I didn’t visit the hotel’s pool or the spa. I didn’t take in the movie theatre or wander the on-site art gallery. And much like my exercise equipment at home, the sterilized spin bike in my room got much less attention than it deserved.
But with two hotel stays under my belt, I’ve figured out what I need: Great WiFi for when I want to connect, a close-to-home location so I don’t have to choose between maximizing my stay and a long drive home when it’s over, a plan for enjoying the amenities on site and some extra snacks to keep me from ordering room service and driving up the bill.
In the end, both of my stays provided respite when I let them. Would I do it again? Let’s just say my day bag is permanently packed.
Looking to book a daycation of your own? Here are three to try:
Hotel X offers three options for a daycation. The Hotel Office package ($199) includes use of the room and a $30 food and beverage credit. The Day of Pampering includes credits for the Guerlain Spa, and the Day of Movement includes two group fitness classes at 10XTO, the hotel’s 90,000-square-foot athletic centre ($235 each). All three packages include use of the rooftop pool, complimentary self-parking for one vehicle, a workout in the 10XTO Fitness Centre, a movie in the Screening Room, access to the basketball court and more.
If you need to take a little one with you for the day, but are still craving some adult alone time, consider Toronto’s Kimpton Saint George and its new Chief Virtual Learning Officer daycation offering ($99). While you lounge in the room or take advantage of on-site amenities, your child can call on the hotel helper to figure out WiFi log-ons and help accessing a midday snack.
And more than 2,000 hotels in the Marriott International chain now offer one of three Work Anywhere with Marriott Bonvoy packages. Rates vary depending on location for the Day Pass (6 a.m.-6 p.m.), Stay Pass (adds an overnight stay) and (access to supervised family play activities while you work poolside).
The writer was a guest of St. Regis Toronto and Hotel X. Neither property reviewed or approved the article before publication.