It’s hard to believe it’s March already, with the first few months of the year having flown by in the blink of an eye. With this month being one of the busiest times of year in Hong Kong, what with major art fairs and food festivals fuelling the festivities all month along, chances are you’re going to be seeking some rest and relaxation (and a lengthy detox) after several weeks of heavy scheduling and maybe a few too many late nights out.
Luckily, the public holiday schedule this year means we have plenty of long weekends to look forward to in the upcoming months. With several chances to pack your bags and get away for a weekend, we’ve rounded up some of the top wellness retreats within a 5-hour flight of Hong Kong — whether you’re a solo traveller seeking meditation, an avid yogi with an eye for adventure, or a couple looking for a weekend of rest and romance away from the city’s hustle and bustle.
Solo meditation at Amatara Wellness Resort – Phuket, Thailand
Seek your way to nirvana at the Amatara Wellness Resort in Phuket, a zen hideaway set amongst a canopy of lush jungle trees, with the magnificent ocean at your feet. We visited this property recently and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it for those seeking a quick weekend to recharge and reset in a unique pocket of calm in one of the busiest tourist destinations of Southeast Asia. While we’re frequent travellers to the island, Amatara helped to reintroduce us to the myriad of reasons why we love Phuket: the picturesque scenery, gorgeous sunsets with a cocktail in hand, the unwavering hospitality of the Thai people, and of course, fantastic local Thai food — all accessed via a quick, 3-hour flight from Hong Kong.
Located at Cape Panwa on the southeastern tip of Phuket, approximately 45 minutes by car from the airport, destination resort Amatara commands breathtaking views of the ocean. The resort’s philosophy is grounded in holistic programmes to promote good health and well-being: Rather than rigorous exercise or strict dieting, think feasting on delicious, nutrient-packed dishes and participating in relaxing meditations and uplifting sunrise yoga sessions intended to leave you in the ultimate blissed-out state.
Sign up for one of the wellness programmes to enjoy exclusive access to the The Retreat, which serves all-day dining options incorporating raw juice blends, smoothies, salads, appetisers, revitalising soups, seafood, desserts and herbal tea and coffees. Using only real, unrefined and unprocessed foods, the menu rotates seasonally, incorporating local Thai ingredients and nurturing food philosophies. The alfresco dining area here overlooks a private infinity pool (exclusively for The Retreat guests), where you can lounge the day away by taking a cool dip as you chart the sun’s progress across the sky. Alternatively, head to the Pool Terrace, where you can sneak in a cocktail between swimming laps, all before sitting down to a traditional Thai meal at The Restaurant, which sits adjacent to the main lobby and pool.
What we love about Amatara Wellness Resort is the integrated feel of offerings, from the well-designed layout to the breadth and scope of wellness activities, all combining seamlessly into the perfect long-weekend vacation. While there are 22 pavilions and 48 suites available, the staggered layout of the villas (each incredibly spacious, with their own private pools and balconies); the private, tree-lined paths; and the flexibility of the restaurants and meal hours means you can easily spend the weekend in near-seclusion, which is great for those seeking a solo weekend to recharge. Morning yoga meditations and yoga classes take place in groups of six or less, and it’s easy to find complete pockets of calm throughout the day — whether it’s lounging on your own private chaise at The Retreat, discovering the secluded beach which sits at the base of the resort, or whiling away the afternoon at The Library, a cosy reading nook where complimentary cocktails are served daily from 6–7pm along with local hors d’oeuvres.
Must-try experience: The Thai Hamam treatment at the 2,000-sq.-mtr. Amatara Spa, which combines traditional Thai and Turkish Hamam healing philosophies to boost the health and vitality of the body. The unique treatment involves alternations of cool and warm through water, steam, heated stone beds, ice application and sauna. Top it off with a massage and a restorative trip to the Himalayan salt room.
A culinary and cultural oasis at Fusion Phu Quoc – Phu Quoc, Vietnam
For an all-inclusive spa retreat, one of our all-time favourite destinations is the Fusion Maia in Da Nang. However, while it was relatively quiet five or six years back, Da Nang has become increasingly overrun with tourists in recent years, with a corresponding hike in accommodation and flight prices. Luckily, another jewel in the Fusion portfolio has just opened in Phu Quoc, a less-frequented tropical island located off Vietnam’s southern coast. Harbouring over 50km of white-sand beaches, it’s one of Southeast Asia’s best-kept secrets.
Two short flights from Hong Kong (the second is a 1-hour domestic transfer) will land you in this island paradise, where the sprawling Fusion Phu Quoc immediately feels like a home away from home.
If you’re one of those travellers who’d rather not spend the whole day sleeping around your villa or lounging by the pool, you’ll want to sign up for The Fusion Voyage packages: 3-, 5-, and 7-day programmes that include a customised itinerary designed around three distinct pillars. “Fusionmind” elevates physical fitness, “fusionsense” focuses on achieving health from the inside out, and “fusionsoul” incorporates meditation, yoga and massages to enhance personal well-being. Once you’ve set your goals and personal agenda, your daily schedule is structured around a range of activities such as morning yoga classes and personal fitness sessions, nutritious cooking classes, beach games and water sports.
With all the activities on offer, Fusion Phu Quoc’s team of friendly ‘Fusionistas’ will help customise your itinerary and ensure you get the most out of your vacation, whether it’s visiting traditional fishing villages along the river, cycling to neighbouring sites such as Nguyen Trung Truc temple and Ho Quoc Pagoda, or participating in local cooking classes with chef Edmond Kwan. Wrap up the day with a Tai Chi or meditation session, and of course, unlimited spa treatments of your choosing: wraps, massages, scrubs, facials and manicures/pedicures. With the largest spa and wellness facility on Phu Quoc — 11,210 square metres with 20 treatment rooms — you’re sure to find serenity and relaxation as you immerse yourself in the steam and sauna facilities surrounded by the spa’s verdant pepper grove.
Must-try experience: For beachfront dining, book a meal at Pezcà, where you can savour mouthwatering grilled meats and fresh seafood while digging your toes into the sand. Pick on lobster, prawns, calamari and mussels, washed down with a bottle of wine with the waves crashing at your feet. The following morning, opt to have your breakfast served beachside to catch the first rays of the day peeping over the horizon.
Fusion Phu Quoc, Hamlet 4, Vũng Bầu Beach, Cửa Cạn Ward, Phú Quốc, tỉnh Kiên Giang 950000, Vietnam, +852 297 3690 000; room rates starting from HK$2,446 per night, includes guaranteed minimum of two spa sessions per day.
Romance and revitalisation at COMO Uma Canggu
On the southern coast of Bali, the newest addition to COMO Hotels and Resorts has just swung open its doors; this is a beautiful beachfront destination with a laid-back wellness programme to suit those couples or families in need of a restful holiday. With wellness and world-class cuisine forming the pillars of the COMO brand — along with impeccable service — COMO’s new luxury resort in the coastal village of Canggu is certain to become a popular destination on the island. Still in its infancy, you’ll be one of the first visitors to step foot on this handsome property, the group’s third on Bali (14th in the world). The retreat boasts 119 accommodation spaces (including rooms, suites, 1- and 2-bedroom residences and 3-bedroom duplex penthouses with rooftop pools).
As a guest of the hotel you’ll have full access to the COMO Shambhala Retreat, the brand’s wellness programme, which advocates proactive holistic wellness through a mix of modern science and ancient healing practices. With ‘shambhala’ referring to ‘a sacred state of bliss’ in ancient Buddha texts, the aim is to achieve inner tranquility through various therapies and workshops, led by a team of experts and supplemented by revitalising, health-conscious cuisine.
At COMO Shambhala Retreat, you and your partner can engage in a range of daily fitness classes, hands-on healing and holistic therapies. Choose from deep tissue massages, facials or the signature COMO Shambhala Massage (double rooms are available for couples); participate in gentle yoga and Pilates classes, held twice a day; or opt for personal training sessions at the state-of-the-art gym. At night, head to the COMO Beach Club for a bite under the stars, with fresh island fare paired with a range of modern craft cocktails (or mocktails, if you prefer). The traditional surf shack concept is the heart of the property, a nightly gathering spot which comes alive when the sun sets with live acoustic musicians and DJ sets.
In your remaining free time, explore the diverse landscape around the village of Canggu, from navigating tranquil rice paddies to taking long walks along the 6-mile stretch of white-sand beach lapped by the Indian Ocean. With this area known for some of the best surf breaks on the island, you’ll want to grab a board at some point and hit the waves, guided by COMO’s experienced surf instructors. Whether you’re a beginner or a veteran rider, Tropicsurf teachers will get you well acquainted with the waves in no time. Not a fan of surfing? While away the days instead with guided walking tours, golf excursions, day trips to Ubud or exploring nearby Seminyak.
Must-try experience: As part of COMO Shambhala’s 2018 wellness offerings, COMO Uma Canggu will lead a six-night father-and-son surfing workshop from June 24–26 (easily combined with the long weekend holiday in Hong Kong), which includes hitting the waves with Tropicsurf instructors and discovering the best breaks on the beach.
COMO Uma Canggu, Jalan Pantai Batu Mejan, Echo Beach, Canggu, Kabupaten Badung, Bali 80361, Indonesia, +62 361 3022228; opening room rates starting from HK$1,960 per night including breakfast for two.