Travel these days seems to be less about ticking to-see items off a list. As slow travel catches on, people see travel as a means to unplug and to reconnect with themselves. And this includes unwinding and catching up on rest. Recognising this fact, here are our top picks in Asia.
1. The Capitol Kempinski Hotel, Singapore
If you are so time strapped and a staycation is the next best thing to a holiday you can give yourself, check in to the latest luxury opening in town. After all, the Kempinski outpost in Singapore is housed in the adjoining former Capitol Building and Stamford House that strikes a chord with most Singaporeans. Opened late last year after a long delay, the historic building has been beautifully restored by award-winning architect Richard Meier and the late Jaya Ibrahim. Guests in need of R & R should check out the hotel’s saltwater pool, apparently the first of its kind in Singapore and has relaxation benefits. Though the spa is compact with only three treatment rooms, you will not be left wanting. French brand Themae known for incorporating the anti-oxidative powers of tea in its products is used in the body treatments. Try the signature Singapore Massage, a 90-minute treatment using the principles of Chinese traditional massage, Malay abdominal massage, and an Indian foot massage. You might fall fast asleep.
At 15 Stamford Road, Singapore 178906, tel: 6368 8888.
2. The Ritz Carlton, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Besides top-notch service standards, winning F&B options and sumptuous rooms, this Ritz Carlton, still fresh after a major refurbishment in 2016, is also well-known among the local ladies who lunch for its spa. The spa (as well as the hotel) is owned and managed by the YTL group, a Malaysian conglomerate known for its Spa Village concept that offers treatments based on traditional recipes. Our top pick for royal treatment is the Chinese Peranakan treatment which uses natural ingredients. Start with meditation to relax, followed by a facial, then Chinese moxibustion to remove toxins and improve metabolism, and rattan tapping qi-gong to improve blood circulation. The treatment concludes with an oil massage incorporating Chinese and Malay techniques.
At 168, Jalan Imbi, Bukit Bintang, 55100 Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, tel: +60 3-2142 8000.
Since its opening last year, the Andre Fu-designed hotel has drawn aesthetes and bon vivants for its clean, sweeping curves, and extravagant touches. In the Waldorf Astoria Spa, the same elegant design theme prevails. Though there are only three treatment rooms, each one of them is spacious yet gently cocoons guests in an atmosphere of calm with a cream colour palette and plush soft furnishings. Surrender to the gentle ministrations of a therapist in a 90-min Waldorf Signature massage which is tailored according to the individual’s needs and health issues.
At 151 Ratchadamri Rd, Khwaeng Lumphini, Khet Pathum Wan, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon 10330, Thailand, tel: +66 2 846 8888.
4. JW Marriott Phu Quoc Emerald Bay, Vietnam
Design maven Bill Bensley (famous for his highly imaginative and theatrical hotel concepts) has imagined this resort to be the campus of a defunct academy called the “Lamarck University” in colonial Vietnam. The narrative was inspired when he first witnessed the wild beauty of the tropical paradise of Phu Quoc Island. This fictional university, that was once dedicated to the study of evolutionary sciences, was then “restored” as JW Marriott Phu Quoc Emerald Bay Resort & Spa. In line with this imaginary theme, Bensley also designed an Alice-in-Wonderland-themed fantasy spa called Chanterelle Spa. Mushroom motifs are a big feature in the décor. Drawings of fungi deck the ceiling and the staff are dressed like characters from the CS Lewis’ novel. Book the signature Four Hand massage, which as the name suggests, has two therapists work on you at the same time. You get double the calming and soothing effects, lulling you to sleep before you even realised it.
At Bãi Khem, Phu Quoc, Kien Giang, Vietnam, tel: +84 297 377 9999.
5. Mandarin Oriental Taipei, Taiwan
Some say The Mandarin Oriental Taipei is the most luxurious hotel in Taipei. The in-hotel spa is also the largest among all Mandarin Oriental spas in the world. Spread over two floors, there are 12 treatment rooms, including four couples suites and two VIP suites, a small sauna and a steam room. For a sense of place, try the Formosa treatment. Bearing the name that the Portuguese who visited Taiwan in the 16th century gave it, the treatment starts with a foot massage using sea pearl powder blended with salt for its cleansing and whitening properties. Next, you will be covered with white clay to draw out toxins. You will then be cleansed before a full body massage using butterfly massage techniques is administered. To put a glow on your face before you leave, you will be given scalp and face scrapping to increase blood circulation.
At No. 158, DunHua N Rd, Songshan District, Taipei City, Taiwan 10548, tel: +886 2 2715 6888.
6. Rosewood Beijing, China
The rapidly expanding luxury hotel brand is well known for paying tribute to the host destination it opens in. This is done through F&B offerings, artworks by local artists in the common areas, and even its spa treatments. The Empress Dowager Cixi Facial is a nod to the most famous concubine in Qing dynasty, the last imperial dynasty in China. Cixi was known for her beauty regimens. In this treatment, a jade roller, a popular beauty tool in the Qing dynasty, is used to massage the face and neck to promote elasticity and improve circulation in the skin.
At Jing Guang Centre, Hujialou, Chaoyang District, Beijing, 100020, People’s Republic of China, tel: +86 10 6597 8888.
7. The Sukhothai Shanghai, China
When designing the hotel, Neri&Hu Design and Research had envisioned it as an oasis in China’s most populous city, which explains the clean lines and soothing colours used. The same design ethos are extended to the cavernous spa in the hotel basement. A long, moodily lit corridor leads to the large treatment rooms and suites. The spa menu here has an Asian bias. A very popular treatment here is the Retreat Detox Massage. The kinks and knots in your back are dealt with through Chinese acupressure massage, followed by a Malay abodomen massage to aid elimination of toxins. “Body wind” is then expelled from the body through Indian foot massage with a “kansu bowl”.
At No.380 Weihai Road, Shanghai, China, 200041, tel: +86 21 5237 8888.