5 nearby retreats where you can recharge your soul

Paradise is not too far away.

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Need a wellness weekend (or perhaps a week) desperately? These resorts are just a short flight away, but worlds apart from your overwrought existence.

1. Banyan Tree Anji, Huzhou, China 

Recently opened in June, this idyllic lake-fronting resort in a gazetted eco-tourism region is set within tranquil bamboo forests with breathtaking views of mountain ranges in the distance.

Incorporating elements of traditional Suzhou and Hangzhou architecture with contemporary elements, its 121 rooms are serene, grey-toned cocoons of comfort featuring modern minimalist Chinese décor, while the 30 villas are built in the style of traditional Chinese courtyard houses with a light-filled open-concept layout.

Enjoy The Banyan Tree Spa’s signature treatment using Anji White Tea (the area is a famed white-tea growing area) in one of its 10 treatment rooms boasting views of bamboo groves, or soak yourself in the picturesque scenery in the outdoor infinity pool.

Food-wise, there’s a Thai restaurant and a Chinese restaurant featuring cuisine made from premium local ingredients, and a rooftop bar where you can catch gorgeous sunset views.

Aside from yoga at the in-house studio, choose from seasonal activities — tea-leaf-picking in spring; horseback riding through the woods in summer; golf in the autumn.

This being China, this Banyan Tree resort also boasts a karaoke lounge — well, singing’s a great form of stress relief too, isn’t it?

2. The Datai, Langkawi, Malaysia

After a year-long US$60 million renovation, iconic Malaysian resort The Datai is set to reopen in September. Its lush setting within a 10-million-year-old tropical rainforest, overlooking a wide swathe of white-sand beach fronting Datai Bay (voted one of the world’s top 10 beaches by National Geographic, no less), needs no introduction.

What’s new is the refreshed accommodation — the 121 rooms, suites and villas boast treetop views and décor that marries simplicity, modernity and creativity with Malay, Chinese and Indian influences and locally derived natural materials.

Here, F&B options abound — from authentic Malaysian cuisine at the Gulai House, Thai flavours at The Pavilion, all-day dining at The Dining Room, and casual fare such as pizza and grilled seafood, and cocktails, at The Beach Club and Beach Bar.

The resort’s award-winning Datai Spa has also been expanded, with a new air-conditioned treatment room in addition to the four open-air spa villas. Treatments are based on Malay “ramuan”, or oils infused with medicinal herbs hand-picked from the garden and surrounding rainforest.

There’s even a Bastien Gonzalez mani-pedi studio, offering its world-famous podiatrist-administered treatments that leave nails bare yet super shiny — a nice respite from the harsh Gelish we usually subject ourselves to.

The new Nature Centre houses a library and a tea corner offering Malay herbal teas, as well as mini labs where you can learn more about the surrounding marine and rainforest environment. 

Two swimming pools, a fitness centre, yoga and Pilates classes, nature walks and cookery classes, featuring herbs plucked fresh from the gardens, offer a holistic, multisensory escapade.

3. REVIVO, Nusa Dua, Bali

Opened earlier this year, Revivo sees just 16 modern-minimalist villas set within three hectares of lush forest.

The Nu restaurant called Nu, Tri bar and O poolside lounge feature offerings created by their in-house nutritionist, with a focus on high-protein, low-carb Balinese-inspired cuisine using organic, seasonal, locally sourced and sustainably farmed ingredients and served as close to their natural state as possible.

The Remissio Spa is where ancient Balinese healing traditions meet state-of-the art facilities such as Vichy showers, chromatherapy, infrared saunas and a floating pool.

If you just want to laze around,  a treatment or two, followed by long snoozes by the pool, should do the trick. Or, get back on the fitness track with yoga, martial arts, pilates, TRX, boxing, aquarobics and HIIT classes. Tailor-made programmes to help you detox, de-stress, or lose weight, or also available. 

4. Santani Wellness Resort, Kandy, Sri Lanka

Soak in the serenity of mist-shrouded mountains in Sri Lanka’s famed tea country at this remote hilltop destination, which houses 16 modern-minimalist standalone single-bedroom accommodations, cantilevered on steep slopes.

Each accommodates a maximum of two and offers a generous 500 sq ft of living space, and a balcony from which to take in all that gorgeous scenery. Take the chance to go off the radar — there’s no in-room Wifi, except when you specifically request for it.

When it comes to nutrition, Santani’s head of wellness and in-house Ayurvedic doctor will create a customised meal plan based on your health goals and physical condition, offering up a selection of meals based on ketogenic, Ayurvedic vegetarian and detox diet principles.

The tri-level spa, built into the contours of a hill, overlooks a lush emerald patchwork of paddy fields and features steam rooms, a sauna, an open-air thermal salt soak pool. You can also opt for wellness packages depending on whether you want to lose weight, sleep better, get more energy, or even kick your nicotine/alcohol/caffeine or even online shopping addiction.

Offsite activities on offer include excursions to the Hanging Bridge of Narampanawa, a guided walk to the Hulu River (indulge in some morning meditation when you get there), a visit to the Bambaragala Cave Temple, hikes within Unesco World Heritage site the Knuckles Conservation Range, and golf at Victoria Golf Club.

5. Kamalaya, Koh Samui, Thailand

Perched on a hillside and built around a tiny cave that was used as a meditation spot by a Buddhist monk 300 years ago, and which local villagers and monks still use for prayers today, the resort is said to be a “temple” of peace and spirituality.

Its 60 rooms, suites, beachfront and pool villas are decked out in tropical modern style, with lots of warm woods and rattan accented by cottons and local textiles.

The two in-house eateries, Soma Restaurant and Amrita Café, offer a fusion of East and West culinary traditions, using fresh, tropical, and as much as possible, organic produce including seafood poultry, lamb and extensive vegetarian options… for maximum effect, opt for the Detox Cuisine which features low-inflammatory, low-allergenic and low-GI vegetarian fare.

The spa has a herbal steam cavern, far infrared sauna, plunge pools and an extensive wellness menu offering treatments from a variety of Eastern and Western modalities, such as Chi Nei Tsang (Taoist abdominal massage), colonic hydrotherapy, lymphatic drainage therapy, Thai massage, and health consultations drawing from Ayurveda, TCM, homeopathy, naturopathy and Western medicine.

Chill by the pool, calm your mind and move your body with yoga, taichiqigong and Pilates, or head for the great outdoors by signing up for nature hikes, beach walks and kayaking.

A monthly lineup of special events, including performances, concerts, workshops, group retreats and art therapy, makes for a different experience each time you come back — this spot is known for attracting repeat visitors.

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