- Due to the novel Coronavirus, nearly all non-essential employees are now working from home, and family and friends aren't gathering in person due to shelter-in-place and self-isolation guidelines.
- Team meetings, happy hours with colleagues, and family dinners are all happening over video apps like Zoom.
- Merge your next socially-distanced digital gathering with a virtual vacation by trying one of these dreamy Zoom backgrounds provided for free from hotels and travel destinations around the world.
- For more stories, go to Business Insider's home page.
Due to the novel Coronavirus, most non-essential workers are following shelter-in-place and self-isolation guidelines and working from home. That means team meetings, one-on-one staff check-ins, and even happy hours with colleagues are now happening virtually using video apps like Zoom. Even game nights among friends, happy hour get-togethers, and family dinners and holidays are taking place through screens.
At the same time, the travel industry is experiencing massive disruptions and looking to engage with would-be guests who are longing for an escape while holed up at home. Now, in addition to offering largely free virtual online experiences and e-learning opportunities, hotels and destinations around the world have created Zoom backgrounds that can be easily downloaded and used as a backdrop for your next call, or as a transportive new desktop background.
Setting video chat backgrounds such as these offerings can also be a discreet way to keep home life a little more private for those who don't necessarily want their digs, kids, or most likely, messes, on full display to colleagues and friends.
I tried out some of the backgrounds myself and enjoyed pretending to work from a posh London apartment via onefinestay one day and a calming villa oasis at Fairmont Mayakoba the next. I even used one of the beachy backdrops from Harbour Village in Bonaire as my computer background along with an island playlist and a fruity cocktail to set the tropical mood for an armchair vacation.
- I also tried out one of the photos on a video call with my family. I had them briefly wondering if I'd jetted off somewhere exotic before I revealed my secret and assured them I was indeed practicing safe social distancing in my tiny Brooklyn apartment.
In addition to serving as a fun escape, I also found myself discovering and bookmarking hotels I wanted to plan to visit (and review) later, based on their digital landscapes, such as the seductive pool at the Sofitel Mexico City Reforma. In fact, I might just have to change my choice from our recent roundup of hotels travel editors and writers plan to visit first, as soon as it's safe.
- Zoom backgrounds can be used on both desktop and mobile across multiple operating systems. For help setting up the backgrounds, visit the Zoom support page.
Read on to discover and download gorgeous Zoom backgrounds and the innovative hotels offering them around the world.
Cayo Espanto - Belize
Feel like you're working from your own private island with views of stunning Cayo Espanto. The secluded resort is set on its own island just off the coast of Belize and is home to just seven villas, including a coveted overwater bungalow. Use their zoom backgrounds to get into vacation mode and virtually explore the world's second-largest barrier reef system. Or grab a drink and watch a sunset poolside.
The private island resort's 10 different background options can be found here.
Coco Bodu Hithi & Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu - Maldives
We all dream of overwater bungalows (hint: here are our top affordable choices) and while we can't go right now, we can digitally jet off to the panoramic scenery of endless blue waters. I'd gladly virtually visit Coco Bodu Hithi, found on the Maldives North Malé Atoll, or Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu, which sits on the southern tip of Baa atoll. Their Zoom backgrounds feature private plunge pools, white-sand beaches, and beautiful aerial views that set a peaceful and relaxing tone for conference calls or wine nights with friends.
Escape to paradise via the hotels' downloadable backgrounds found here.
Viceroy Hotels & Resorts - Worldwide
Viceroy has turned several of its distinct luxury boutique properties into backdrops for travel-from-home use. Pose in the elegant sitting room of the Viceroy L'Ermitage Beverly Hills, escape to the snowy mountains of Snowmass, or even get a first look at some of their newest hotels, like the Hotel Zena Washington DC. One of our top-reviewed hotels in Chicago, is the Viceroy.
Find backdrops from Viceroy properties around the world here.
Fairmont Mayakoba - Mexico
These Zoom backgrounds transport work-from-homers to the 45-acre luxury property in the heart of Riviera Maya, Mexico. Work beside lush mangrove forests, gentle lagoon waterways, or relaxing beaches. After, opt for virtual happy hour at the serene spa pool or sip cocktails in front of the chic bar and lounge. You can also read more about Fairmont Mayakoba, one of our top affordable spa hotels in the world here.
To see all 10 backgrounds, visit this link.
Grand Residences Riviera Cancun - Mexico
During your next after-hours Zoom meetup, mix up a mojito and imagine sipping it with your toes in the pool at the all-inclusive Grand Residences Riviera Cancun. Backgrounds include images of private room patios (complete with beach views, plunge pools, and hot tubs), as well as photos of the swim-up bar, and the central pool both at sunset and by day.
Follow the link here to begin using the resort's Zoom backgrounds.
Frangipani Beach Resort - Anguilla
Gaze on a sleek sanctuary overlooking Meads Bay Beach and its pristine white sands with these images from Frangipani Beach Resort on the Caribbean island of Anguilla. Be instantly transported to Frangipani's infinity pool and palapas, work in front of a Meads Bay sunset, and enjoy aerial views of the beachfront property.
See here to access the resort's backgrounds.
Harbour Village - Bonaire
Enjoy four-acres of tropical paradise from the comfort of your couch with images of Harbour Village Beach Resort found on the lesser-known Dutch Caribbean island of Bonaire. The resort is renowned for unique diving/snorkeling experiences within the island's coral reefs, which is reflected in the hotel's backgrounds that include boats bobbing in crystal clear waters, and underwater views of sea turtles serenely swimming by.
The Zoom backgrounds, found here, allow future guests to get a sneak peek of this beach oasis.
onefinestay - Worldwide
Onefinestay is part of the Accor brand but features incredible homes and villas for rent around the world. The global portfolio is defined by two distinct and complementary collections: City & Villa. Try working from a new home with these backgrounds that feature everything from chic downtown apartments in New York to dreamy villas with ocean views in the Turks & Caicos.
Access all of the Zoom backdrops from their gallery here.
Hawks Cay Resort - The Florida Keys
Hotels and resorts in the Florida Keys may not all be open right now, but that doesn't mean Hawks Cay isn't available as a virtual playground. The 60-acre resort, part of the Preferred Hotel Group Lifestyle Collection, provides the ultimate work-from-home backdrop with ample palm trees, and the appearance of an evening by the outdoor fire pit, or you can feel like you're approaching the resort by plane with aerial shots.
Travelers can be transported to the resort by accessing the Zoom backgrounds here.
Skydeck Chicago - Chicago
Overlook Chicago's skyline during your next weekly team conference call and take your colleagues on a thrilling visit to the iconic Skydeck Chicago. The attraction is located 103 stories above the city in the world-famous Willis Tower. Now, daredevils can even conquer the feeling of stepping out onto The Ledge, a series of glass boxes extending four feet from the building, from the safety of their living room.
Visit this link to enjoy Skydeck Chicago's magnificent views.
Sofitel Mexico City Reforma - Mexico City
Located on Paseo de la Reforma, one of the most iconic avenues in the world, Sofitel Mexico City makes for a dreamy desktop escape. The sophisticated hotel interiors blend French and Mexican style and are on full display in these inviting backdrops that feature impressive room views, cityscapes, the lobby bar, the seductive indoor pool, and more.
The hotel's eight Zoom backgrounds offer an inside look into the new hotel, restaurants, and rooftop pool. See the link here.
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