Anantara Ankgor Resort & Spa, CAMBODIA
Few sights in Asia can compare with the temples at Angkor Wat. These ancient monuments project a serene tranquillity that not even crowds of tourists can dispel. That serenity is channelled into one of the area’s most inviting retreats, Anantara Angkor, the closest hotel to Angkor Wat, which offers its guests an intimate and soothing experience. The spoiling starts as soon as you arrive, with a complimentary transfer from the airport to the resort. Every suite has its own terrace or balcony, and the teakwood floors and carved wooden furniture add to a sense of place.
WHAT’S ON OFFER Some spas just treat your body – at Anantara Angkor, the emphasis is as much on the spiritual side of things. Drawing on the teachings of Cambodian Buddhism, the spa menu is divided into seven ‘ways to enlightenment’, each offering a range of targeted treatments. The Mindfulness path, for instance, includes not just a head massage designed to calm overactive minds, but the opportunity to learn the meditative Khmer tradition of leaf-folding. In the Energy path, you might choose an energising steam bath or a cycling expedition. But you don’t have to stick with one path: you can pick and choose the activities that suit you.
HIGHLIGHT Want something more than just a feel-good factor? Anantara also has a range of Core Wellness Packages designed to deliver outcomes in a concentrated period of time. The three-day Reboot package is an intensive de-stress program that includes nutrition sessions, as well as yoga and massages; the seven-day Reshape program lets you kickstart your fitness. Alternatively, ask them to tailor a program just for you.
GO SOLO OR BRING A FRIEND? To make the most of a stay here, take a buddy who shares your goals and act as each other’s cheer squad.
MORE Suites from US$180 per night per room (for a single or for two), including breakfast. The Reboot and Recharge Wellness Packages start at US$480, per person per night (minimum three nights), including nutrition classes, restorative yoga and massages. Find out more at anantara.com.
Como Shambhala Estate, BALI
Bali has no shortage of wellness retreats, but there is a reason that Como Shambhala Estate is consistently named the island’s top getaway. The estate has just 30 rooms spread across a series of home-style residences, each one offering communal lounging areas and a pool, as well as picturesque views across the lovely Ayung Valley. Add in an impressive roster of skilled therapists, including gifted Ayurvedic practitioners, and Como Shambhala is a foolproof choice for some time out.
WHAT’S ON OFFER At Como Shambhala, you take things at your own pace. If you have specific goals, there are structured programs designed to assist with everything from cleansing to upping your fitness. If that’s not your speed, you can choose to join in any of the extraordinary roster of daily activities. Options include everything from hydrotherapy to Pilates, a scenic bike ride to circuit training – and then there are informative talks on everything from stress management to Balinese culture. Como’s famous spa cuisine is served in two restaurants, including one set into a 150-year-old traditional Javanese house.
HIGHLIGHT Part of Como Shambhala’s rejuvenating effect is courtesy of its verdant setting, all leafy slopes and a moss-clad forest. Spend some time exploring the paths that meander through the estate, wending their way past tranquil ponds and hidden clearings. The estate is even home to one of Bali’s eight sacred springs, which supplies the water used in Como’s spa treatments.
GO SOLO OR BRING A FRIEND? Can’t find a friend who has time to get away? You’re not alone. The majority of Como Shambhala’s guests are solo travellers, which means that there’s always someone to have a chat with.
MORE Wellness programs start at US$740 per day, including accommodation, full board, therapies and activities. Find out more at comohotels.com.
Gaia Retreat & Spa, NSW
Tucked into the rolling hills of NSW’s lush Byron Bay hinterland, this leafy retreat – co-owned by Olivia Newton-John – has long billed itself as a place to rest and replenish. Guests start relaxing the moment they step into the Samoan-style longhouse that sits at the heart of the property. With its inviting daybeds, sheer floaty fabrics and tree-fringed terrace, the longhouse embodies the feeling of rejuvenation that is at the heart of Gaia.
WHAT’S ON OFFER With more than 30 different therapists working in the spa, Gaia is known for its extensive treatment menu. If you just want some pampering, there are no fewer than eight different types of massage on offer; if you have specific issues you want to address, it’s worth exploring offerings such as acupuncture and qi gong. Equally restorative is Gaia’s spa cuisine, which uses produce sourced from the property’s own organic gardens, as well as from nearby farmers and producers. Three-course dinners at Gaia may include plates such as crab with snowpea shoots, radish and puffed rice, or fig, lentil and pomegranate salad. A range of suites, terraces and villas is available, some with plunge pools. What they all share are earth-toned interiors that offer understated elegance.
HIGHLIGHT The sheer beauty of this property is part of its charm. Whether you’re starting the day with yoga in the hilltop studio, following the walking trail through the lush rainforest, or simply relaxing by the saltwater pool as butterflies or lorikeets flit by, let nature weave its restorative magic.
GO SOLO OR BRING A FRIEND? Massages, fine food and organic wines – this is the perfect spot for a getaway with your friends.
MORE A two-night Spa Retreat package, including accommodation, all meals and snacks, daily yoga and a $250 spa voucher costs from $2010 for two, twin-share. See gaiaretreat.com.au.
Kamalaya Koh Samui Wellness Sactuary, THAILAND
Kamalaya is one of Asia’s most-awarded spas, and it doesn’t take long to work out why. Every aspect of this experience is carefully calibrated. The location is spectacular, with the accommodation spilling down a leafy hill towards the ocean. The spa is deliciously tranquil, centred around an alfresco pavilion with ocean views, and treatment cabins scattered on the nearby slopes. The treatments, which draw on Asian and Western traditions, are top-notch. There are plenty of quiet corners on the property where you can unwind, from an aromatic herbal steam cavern to the pools, where a staffer brings frozen grapes to help swimmers cool down.
WHAT’S ON OFFER Perched on a quiet point on Koh Samui, Thailand’s favourite holiday island, Kamalaya is all about choice. Accommodations come in two different but equally appealing styles: either a traditional Thai villa or a sleek contemporary apartment. Kamalaya’s famous spa cuisine covers everything from green juice and vegan menus, if that’s what you’re seeking, to something heartier, from delicious poached sea bass to Massaman curry. Guests can opt for one of the results-oriented wellness programs (themed to address everything from dealing with stress to detoxing), or simply order treatments á la carte.
HIGHLIGHT Every guest at Kamalaya has their favourite therapist, but most of them agree on one thing: the personal mentors are truly extraordinary. With diverse backgrounds (including stints as Buddhist monks) and a philosophical approach, a counselling session with one of the mentors is guaranteed to give you a fresh perspective on your life.
GO SOLO OR BRING A FRIEND? Solo travellers are well catered for at Kamalaya, with a lively communal table offering company at mealtimes. However, this is also a great place to
get away with a girlfriend or two.
MORE A three-night Relax & Renew stay starts at THB 59,451 (about $2890), per single, including accommodation, meals, beverages, transfers and six massages. See kamalaya.com.
Split Apple Retreat, NEW ZEALAND
At Split Apple Retreat, you’ll never be part of the crowd. High on a cliff, surrounded by native forest, with sweeping sea views, Split Apple Retreat – in the far north of New Zealand’s South Island – sits in splendid isolation. Even better, it has just three indulgent suites, which guarantees personal attention from your hosts, Lee Nelson and his wife, Anne Pen Lee.
WHAT’S ON OFFER Ready to make an entrance? Then bang the gong that hangs at the front gate of the property and let them know you’ve arrived. Once you’ve checked in, you might choose to chill on the relaxation bench in the rose garden, stretch out by the infinity pool, or do a meditation session. Feeling more active? The nearby Abel Tasman National Park is a great place for outdoor adventures, such as a hike through the forest or a paddle along the shoreline.
HIGHLIGHT Split Apple’s secret weapon is Anne Pen Lee, a chef who draws on Asian and Mediterranean influences in her vegetable-focused, low-GI cuisine. This is food not just to tantalise the tastebuds but also to nurture, whether you’re dining on super-fresh salmon or sautéed aubergine with avocado.
GO SOLO OR BRING A FRIEND? Bring a friend – or bring more than one. Six of you could book out the retreat, and each of you can pursue your own passions during the day, coming together in the evening to share your experiences over a five-course dinner.
MORE The three-night Taste of Wellness program, including a massage, private yoga lesson and a hike, starts from NZ$5970 for two (twin share). For more details, go to splitapple.com.