15 exotic destination retreats across Asia to suit all your wellness needs
Work hard, relax harder
Plan a detox for the weekend or schedule a month-long wellness sabbatical. Here are 15 of the best destination retreats across Asia. Check in and bliss out.
1. SWASWARA, KARNATAKA
GO IF: YOU WANT TO CONNECT WITH NATURE
The winner of the Lonely Planet Award for Sustainable Tourism in 2017-18, SwaSwara makes its natural beach surroundings an integral part of its offerings. Meditate on a hilltop overlooking the beaches of Gokarna, explore a nature trail, or relax with some open-air yoga nidra. Also de-stress with its signature Ayurvedic cleanse that flushes out toxins via therapeutic sweating, or jal neti, which clears the nasal passages with water and medication.
Five-night packages from Rs 1,50,000.
2. ANANDA IN THE HIMALAYAS, UTTARAKHAND
GO IF: YOU PREFER REJUVENATING IN BEAST MODE
You may know Ananda for its detox and meditation programmes, but its latest one encourages you to get active for a sound body and mind. Ananda Active, created by wellness expert Sumaya Dalmia, is a boot camp experience that includes treks, aqua workouts, yoga and core exercises. Downtime is replete with hydrotherapy jets and massages to calm tense muscles. The motto? Work hard, relax harder.
Five-night packages from Rs 1,40,000.
3. KEMPINSKI HOTEL ISHTAR DEAD SEA, JORDAN
GO IF: YOU WANT TO SOAK IN THE HEALING
The Dead Sea is known for its restorative powers and you really get their full value at The Ishtar Spa. The Bathing Kur ritual includes a body cooling dip in the spa’s private Dead Sea pool, sea salt exfoliation and a mud wrap infusedwith essential oils to heal your skin. Since the spa is located right on the shore of the salt lake, you can take a dip into it anytime post therapy, too.
Three-night stay from Rs 30,000 approx.
4. DUNE ECO VILLAGE AND RESORT, PUDUCHERRY
GO IF: YOU WANT TO BE CHILL LIKE OPRAH
Get a taste of community living at this eco-village that is home to The Deepak Chopra Healing Centre, founded by the eponymous alternative medicine advocate (Oprah Winfrey swears by him). Though it’s only a year old, it offers a vast range of both new and traditional wellness rituals. Pick from floating reflexology to encourage lymph drainage, or dry off with a rejuvenating rice pudding massage.
Two-night packages from Rs 35,000.
5. CHEVAL BLANC RANDHELI, MALDIVES
GO IF: YOU LOVE RELAXING WITH A SIDE DOSE OF ADVENTURE
Sail across the Indian Ocean to this spa resort set on the pristine Noonu Atoll island. Spend the day diving into the deep, blue water. But before you do, sign up for its Randheli Sun Ritual. Specially created by French beauty brand Guerlain, this therapy prepares the skin for tanning and prolongs the golden glow. As a sweet finale to a day in the sun and water, try its after-dive spa experience to moisturise the skin and soothe tight muscles. Plus point? Scenic spa views guaranteed.
Three-night stay from Rs 3,50,000.
6. HUVAFEN FUSHI, MALDIVES
GO IF: YOU WANT TO DEEP-DIVE INTO RELAXATION
With underwater spa rooms immersed eight metres in the Indian Ocean, you won’t be able to decide what you love more—the panoramic reef view or the massage rituals. Book when the visiting therapists are on-site; look out for Beata Aleksandrovich for the best deep tissue massages and Teresa Tarmay (aka Kate Moss’s facialist, by the way) for her sensuous facials.
Three-night stay from Rs 3,20,000.
7. CHIVA-SOM INTERNATIONAL HEALTH RESORT, THAILAND
GO IF: YOU WANT A DIGITAL DETOX WORTHY OF AN A-LISTER
In a time where we answer emails in our sleep and texts while dining, it’s important to switch off. In addition to cigarettes and children under 16, this Chiva Som property also bans gadgets, which includes e-readers (carry a real book, please). But you might find yourself on a pool lounger next to Serena Williams or Victoria Beckham.
Three-night stay from Rs 2,40,000.
8. HILTON SHILLIM ESTATE RETREAT AND SPA, MAHARASHTRA
GO IF: YOU HAVE A LONG WEEKEND BREAK
Swap your suit for a robe and let the experts at this award-winning spa in the Western Ghats take care of all your needs. Its Dharana Lifesciences Wellness Programme includes everything from traditional Ayurvedic treatments and crystal facials to acupuncture. Don’t leave without trying the healthy on-site restaurant, Green Table, that serves up seasonal local produce.
Three-night packages from Rs 1,20,000.
9. ASHIYANA YOGA RETREAT VILLAGE, GOA
GO IF: YOU WANT TO DISCOVER NEW ROUTES TO WELLNESS
The yoga experts at this resort on Mandrem beach can train you to become a certified instructor within 200 hours. So, you can expect your daily classes to be very demanding. But if you want to try something new, opt for its Cranio Sacral Therapy—where a trained expert touches a few points of your skull, encouraging the flow of cerebrospinal fluid that restores balance to the nervous system. Or even try Rebirthing, in which acupuncture is used to release pent-up emotions.
Seven-night packages from Rs 1,00,000.
GO IF: YOU ONLY TRUST MEDICAL PROFESSIONALS
Perfect for the Ayurveda skeptics, this health resort offers holistic treatments that were created by an American medical team along with leading Eastern medicine practitioners. You can screen your body using a movement-tracking system to find trouble points, or tackle sleep disorders with a therapist, who then tailors your entire day to make sure you get quality shut-eye.
Three-night packages from Rs 1,50,000.
11. FOUR SEASONS LANDAA GIRAAVARU, MALDIVES
GO IF: YOU FANCY A SURREAL SLUMBER PARTY
A spa ritual that puts you to sleep? Normal. But one that starts at bedtime in the middle of a private jungle? Purely OTT. The romantically lit Om Supti ritual goes on till midnight, and is complete with an outdoor bath and swinging therapy bed to lull you to sleep, all while you get your muscles gently kneaded.
Three-night stay from Rs 3,60,000.
GO IF: YOU WANT A CURE-CUM-CULTURE LESSON
Sikkim might not be famous for its spas, but it’s certainly renowned for its culture. This medical Buddhist spa brings you a well-kept secret: a traditional Sikkimese ritual called Dottho. A hot stone and local herbs are dropped into a wooden water bath, releasing heat and minerals that are known to heal chronic aches, and even cure arthritis and stomach disorders.
Three-night stay from Rs 35,000.
13. SOMATHEERAM AYURVEDA RESORT, KERALA
GO IF: YOU WANT A TASTE OF A TRADITIONAL MED SCHOOL
Located on the pristine Om Beach, this part lush resort and part Ayurvedic hospital is the first of its kind in the country. With the expertise of state-certified doctors and therapists (who also teach at the in-house institutes), expect everything from body aches to immunity to be taken care of, with personalised plans covering yoga, medication, therapies and meals.
13-night packages from Rs 60,000.
14. THE BANJARAN HOTSPRINGS RETREAT, MALAYSIA
GO IF: YOU WANT TO RECOVER WITH THE ELEMENTS
Surrounded by 260-million year- old towering Paleozoic limestone hills, rain forests, natural caves, cascading waterfalls and geothermal hot springs, this resort relies on the forces of nature to keep you rejuvenated. The pool is naturally heated with geothermal energy to encourage healing. Pick from meditation sessions in crystal or steam caves, or opt for massages by a waterfall.
Three-night packages from Rs 1,27,000.
15. THE FARM AT SAN BENITO, PHILIPPINES
GO IF: YOU NEED A JUNK FOOD DETOX
With over 40 awards and accolades to its name, it is no wonder that this address is the go-to medispa in the Philippines. It’s celebrated for its plant-based cuisine that is prepared live in front of you using ingredients from the property’s organic farm. Live blood analysis at the beginning and end of the detox, and weight-loss programmes measure progress, and days are spent in a mix of organ cleansing therapies, relaxing treatments and meditation.
Three-night stay from Rs 78,000.
Photographs: Thiemo Sander