Underwater meditation in Cambodia? Tai chi in China? On your next holiday, throw a little self-improvement into the mix at these luxury wellness retreats in Asia.
WHAT Ananda Spa
WHERE Narendra Nagar, India
HEAD HERE FOR… Yoga
High in the Himalaya and only a 30-minute drive from the holy city of Rishikesh – the unofficial yoga capital of the world – is Ananda, a wellness retreat housed in the royal palace of the maharaja of nearby Tehri Garhwal. Step onto its marbled verandahs at dawn, take in views of the meandering Ganges and follow the lead of an experienced yogi to acquaint yourself with the ancient principles of yoga. Or head to the resort’s manicured lawns at dusk for a lesson in meditation, with distant sounds of religious ceremonies unfolding on the ghats of Rishikesh. When night falls, relax in your spacious room with wooden floorboards, floor-to-ceiling windows and private balcony.
WHAT Song Saa Private Island Resort
WHERE Krong Preah, Sihanouk, Cambodia
HEAD HERE FOR… Underwater meditation
Spread over two small isles off the southern coast of Cambodia, this resort takes meditation to new depths – literally. Don a weight belt and oxygen mask and, guided by an expert PADI instructor, seat yourself on the shallow seabed in the dead of night – the best time to see the fluorescent-green phosphorus sparkle in the warm ocean. Bojana Milinkovic, the resort’s wellness expert, says meditating with a metre of water above you and only the sound of your breathing is an effective way to silence your mind. There’s a luxe spa on site, too, if you’re more into massages than meditation.
WHAT Maalifushi by COMO Resort
HEAD HERE FOR… COMO Shambhala Cuisine
An active lifestyle is just one way to get fit; the other is a healthy diet, which is where COMO Shambhala Cuisine comes in. Masterminded by Sydney chef Amanda Gale – a Neil Perry protégé – the menu focuses on nutrition and taste. The zucchini- and-walnut flatbread paired with texturally dense cashew hummus is a stand-out. So, too, is the steamed reef fish (top), doused in a fragrant mushroom, ginger and shallot broth, and served with Asian greens. All three restaurants at Maalifushi by COMO – the Singaporean hotel group’s second venture in the Maldives – offer the Shambhala menu. But it’s hard to go past dining in the privacy of one of the resort’s luxurious overwater villas, featuring four-poster beds and private decks with plunge pools.
WHAT Amanfayun Resort
WHERE Hangzhou, China
HEAD HERE FOR… Tai chi lessons
Walking into Amanfayun – a 20-minute drive from the city of Hangzhou – feels more like visiting an ancient Chinese village than checking into a resort. Stone pathways lead to shaded courtyards, which give way to traditional rooms with pitched roofs, minimal furniture and calligraphy prints. It could be the ideal place to unlock the ancient secrets of tai chi – the Chinese martial art renowned for both self-defence and its health benefits. Make the most of one-on-one sessions with masters in the high-ceilinged and naturally lit tai chi studio, before heading to the spa for the resort’s signature massage, which uses heated bamboo mats to relax tense muscles.
WHAT Anantara Bali Uluwatu Resort & Spa
WHERE Bali, Indonesia
HEAD HERE FOR… Traditional Balinese treatments
Tumbling down a secluded cliff face on the southern coast of Bali, this retreat is a collection of sprawling suites, villas with private pools and split-level penthouses – all with sweeping views of the Indian Ocean. But the real draw is the Anantara Spa, where interiors take design cues from traditional Balinese rice barns and feature wooden floors, low ceilings and stone walls. Take an hour out of your day for the body-mask treatment, combining kaolin with local spices and bark to cleanse and nourish. Or indulge in 200 minutes of bliss with the resort’s signature treatment Sensual Spice Odyssey. ￼