|Photo by Freeimages.com/Sirichai Tichakorn|
by Suzanne Duckett, The Daily Telegraph, January 13, 2015
An insider's guide to the top spa hotels in south and south-east Asia, including the best for infinity pools, yoga, beaches and floating villas in locations including Bali, Thailand, Vietnam, India and Japan.
Four Seasons Sayan, Bali
This slick, contemporary hotel is made for holistic holidaymakers who are unwilling to forgo five-star comforts while soul searching. Go with the flow (you’re helped by the Ayung river running through the manicured gardens). Hang upside down doing antigravity yoga in a stunning bale made from sustainable Balinese bamboo in the middle of a paddy field. Have philosophical debates on the meaning of life with smiley Ibu Fera, former Buddhist monk and resident wellness mentor. But whatever you do, experience a traditional healing session by a “Balian” in their home. They play an important role in Bali’s culture by treating various ailments. And the piece-de-resistance? An encounter with a Balinese high priestess as part of a water purification ceremony. Double rooms from £320.
Read the full review: Four Seasons Sayan, Bali
Aman Tokyo, Japan
Perched on the 33rd floor of a glass tower is one of Tokyo’s more extraordinary hotels, which marries the time-honoured Japanese aesthetic with contemporary Aman design. Tradition, modernity and nature are in everything from the inventive cuisine, to the spacious spa, with 30m black granite pool that creates the illusion of floating among the clouds, and treatments based on seasonal ingredients. The divine 150-minute Signature Treatment is inspired by the 16th-century tea ceremony, to soothe with fragrant kuromoji wood and medicinal herbs. Double rooms from £505.
Read the full review: Aman Tokyo, Japan
Nihiwatu, Sumba Island Bali
This humble surf lodge-turned-swish hotel – all four-posters, private pools and day beds that become night beds – offers the most glorious glamping to the sound of the waves. Its star act, though, is the one-of-a-kind spa and Nihi Oka Spa Safari. A hike across the dramatic coast through a primitive local village (spiritual in itself) takes you to your own private clifftop treatment pavilion overlooking the ocean. Here, you spend the day working your way through the spa menu treated by skilled therapists using organic beautifiers. Add to this surfing, galloping on the beach (their horses are top) and heart-thumping hikes – a token spa this is not. Villas from £605.
Read the full review: Nihiwatu, Sumba Island Bali
Kamalaya, Koh Samui, Thailand
A lush, holistic healing paradise where palm fringed paths and crystal streams tumble down natural rocks to a teeny white sand beach. Sleep deeply in an array of hidden Asian rustic chic/luxe suites, cosy cottages and villas kitted out with every comfort (except television). There are countless body- easing, mind-soothing treatments on offer: try Asian hand massage (deceptively therapeutic) and meditations (from authentic Indian yogis). Guests on the Optimal Fitness programme get gently but firmly reshaped by savvy personal trainers. Healthy eating is easy – the pumpkin- seed bread and dairy-free raw choc mousse is positively divine. Double rooms from £145.
Fusion Maia Da Nang, Vietnam
The low-slung, spaced-out pool villas have sunken stone baths, private gardens and four-poster beds big enough for six, but it’s the two spa treatments a day included in the room rate that’s the real pulling power. Hands-on therapies include holistic scalp massages, 30 to 120-minute body wraps, facials and the reiki-like Mindful Energy therapy. Staff can’t do enough for you and, apart from the cringe-making “free hugs”, you’ll welcome every subtle touch. Double rooms from £365.
Vana, Dehradun, India
Set amid forests and gardens with moving water, this healing haven cum eco-hotel has the most stunning, calming and blood pressure-lowering architecture and interiors. Minimalist and clean, the palette is clotted cream, honeycomb and fresh light green with blonde hardwood furniture. Alongside Ayurvedic treatments, Vana offers “Tibetan healing” overseen by therapists trained at the Dalai Lama’s revered institute. The retreat even comes with his holiness’s personal seal of approval (a first). Mantras and home-prepared oils and herbs contribute to the fusing of traditional, modern and natural. The food is seasonal and organic, and as you sit and eat on the restaurant verandas, you’re misted by water from above. Double rooms from £395.
Read the full review: Vana, Dehradun, India
Soukya, Bangalore, India
This holistic health centre on the outskirts of Bangalore – the first of its kind in the world and the brainchild of guru-to-the stars Dr Issac Mathai – offers oily Ayurvedic massage and more intensive purging treatments, as well as hydrotherapy and naturopathy using herbs from its tropical garden. The Duchess of Cornwall counts it among her favourite spa hotels. Soukya is not remotely luxe, but some of the comfy, shabby-chic rooms do have outdoor showers, and all have a private garden. Double rooms from £131, full-board, including twice-daily yoga.
Chiva Som, Thailand
This renowned spa has 23 newly designed rooms oozing contemporary style. A bespoke regime might include pilates, energy treatments with a healer, or group classes such as ashram-standard yoga and poolside pavilion tai chi. There is even a body-freeing gravity experience with Neurac, a suspension-based treatment. Double rooms from £500 (minimum three-night stay).
Read the full review: Chiva Som, Thailand
This article was written by Suzanne Duckett from The Daily Telegraph and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.