Wellness holidays in Asia
By Karl Cushing | July/August 2016 | 11 minute read
From grabbing a traditional Thai- or Balinese-style treatment in a resort to indulging in a rejuvenatory stay in an Ayurvedic resort in India or Sri Lanka, sampling the region’s spa and wellness offering is a highlight of any Asian break.
“Encourage customers to try treatments that are unique to the region they are visiting. I recently had a hot bamboo massage while in Vietnam and would highly recommend it”
JESSICA LEE, FARAWAY RESERVATIONS CONSULTANT PREMIER HOLIDAYS
Rainforest retreat: Stay in a rainforest spa resort such as The Farm at San Benito, Philippines, an eco-friendly classic near Manila offering everything from spa and golf to kids massage
Food for thought: From milk showers to facial massages with hard boiled eggs, Chinese Peranakan Treatments, such as those offered by the Spa Village at Ritz-Carlton Kuala Lumpur, add memorable moments to Malaysia stays
Become a Japan fan: Contrast Japan’s traditional ‘onsen’ hot springs offering with a stay at a stunning modern property such as Aman Tokyo with its minimalist Aman Spa.
Go barmy for Bali: Head to Nihiwatu, where the Nihi Oka Spa Safari offers guests the opportunity to hike 90 minutes to its remote private clifftop treatment pavilions overlooking the sea.
Embrace the waves: Few properties have such an enviable seaside spot as Bali’s Ayana Resort & Spa and itse Spa on the Rocks.
Monkey around: In Japan’s Jigokudani Monkey Park in Nagano Prefecture you can check out the cheeky macaques enjoying an onsen before testing the waters yourself
Scenic Singapore: The Banyan Tree Spa on the 55th floor at Marina Bay Sands offers treatments with views to die for, while ESPA’s outpost at Resorts World Sentosa offers 10,000 square metres of blissful rejuvenation
Targeted programmes are increasingly popular. Take Thailand, where the sumptuous spa at Dhara Dhevi near Chiang Mai has added programmes covering women’s health, back pain and weight management. Chiva-Som in Hua Hin has added five new retreats addressing specific health conditions, including cranial relief for migraine sufferers.
Hot spring resorts are another speciality and a highlight of any visit to Korea or Japan, home of the traditional ‘onsen’. Other good examples include Villa 32 in Beitou, Taiwan and the recently opened Dusit Devarana Hot Springs and Spa Conghua in Guangzhou, China. A personal favourite is Banjaran Hotsprings near Ipoh, Malaysia, a 25-villa resort backed by a network of jungle-flanked geothermal pools plus a spa with 15 treatment rooms.
‘Newer destinations’ getting in on the spa act include Vietnam, whose wellness offering has come a long way since Fusion Maia opened its doors on Danang’s My Khe Beach in 2010, stirring things up with its ‘spa-inclusive’ packages incorporating daily treatments. High-end openings such as the Anantara Hoi An (2013) and Anantara Mui Ne (2012) have helped broaden the options.
What the experts say
“Thailand is well known for its spa and wellness products, particularly traditional Thai massage, a healing art which uses a combination of acupressure and yoga and dates back 2,500 years.
“From world-class spa sanctuaries, health retreats and yoga detox centres to massages on the beach from 200 baht (£4), Thailand offers a variety of health treatments throughout the country backed by beautiful beaches.”
“Promoting Spa and Wellness is a strong focus for TAT this year, with statistics showing that typical wellness tourists spend more than 130% of the average tourist spend. In particular, we are focusing on encouraging female travellers to come to Thailand for spas and wellness."
EMMA ARNOTT, MARKETING EXECUTIVE, TOURISM AUTHORITY OF THAILAND (TAT)
Paresa Resort Phuket’s spa has a new three-day yoga, wellness and vitality retreat and the Anantara Layan Phuket Resort is one of the properties showcasing the group’s new wellness programme, ‘balance’. Also in Phuket, the freshly-remodelled Nai Harn launched its stylish new spa in late May.
The Sarojin in Khao Lak has tweaked its luxurious ‘Spa Suite’ offering to include daily, complimentary 60-minute massages. Pathways Spa and Layana Resort in Koh Lanta has opened a new wellness area and juice bar, Health.
The Peninsula Bangkok’s new wellness programme includes a royal Thai massage with herbal compress.
Sri Lanka’s wellness market is also flying thanks to a flurry of high-end openings. Top picks include Shangri-La’s Hambantota Resort, Anantara Peace Haven Tangalle Resort & Spa; the inland Santani wellness resort in Kandy; and Anantara Kalutara Resort, opening in August.
In India Vana Retreats has opened its urban wellness retreat, Therapiya, in New Delhi. This followed shortly after the original Vana resort in Dehradun, Uttarakhand opened a new centre offering ‘Sowa Rigpa’ Tibetan Healing. Also new is SVATMA, a 38-room boutique offering in Tanjavur, Tamil Nadu.
Operators making waves in Indonesia include Alila, with its Spa Alila concept. Last year it opened the 240-guestroom Alila Seminyak on Bali’s south west coast and Alila Solo near Surakarta on Java.
In Malaysia, Datai Langkawi has introduced a range of new treatments based on traditional Malay Ramuan practices.
Six Senses Ninh Van Bay in Vietnam has opened its supersized Hilltop Reserve Villa sleeping ten (sixsenses.com).
Freshly-opened in China is the Kempinski Hotel Harbin.
In Japan, Aman Resorts is set to open Amanemu this spring, a wellness-focused property on the shores of Ago Bay in Shima city.
Where to book it
Elegant Resorts offers seven nights’ full-board in an Ocean Room at Chiva-Som, Thailand, start from £4,575pp, departing November 21, and including flights from Heathrow with British Airways, private car transfers and UK lounge passes.
Silversea has a range of Wellness Expedition Voyages in 2017 on Silver Discoverer, including a 14-day Kolkata to Phuket cruise taking in Bangladesh and Myanmar, departing February 27 from £6,615.