Asia's top 10 wellness resorts
A vacation is usually a license to sleep late, pig out, hit the bar.
But with wellness tourism one of the world’s fastest growing travel trends, the new way to de-stress on holiday spurns debauchery in pursuit of loftier goals.
Wellness tourism accounted for 14% of the world’s tourism expenditures in 2013, and it’s projected to grow 50% faster than overall global tourism through 2017, according to a report by the New York-based industry group, Global Wellness Institute.
With exotic locations, ancient healing traditions and attentive personal service, it’s not surprising that Asia is one of the key destinations contributing to the boom.
Ananda in the Himalayas (Rishikesh)
Set in a maharajah’s palace in the Himalayan foothills, this luxury spa is as remote and as spiritual as it gets.
Its neighbors are the meandering Ganges and town of Rishikesh, the birthplace of yoga, and packed with yoga ashrams.
Ananda specializes in Ayurvedic healing, India’s ancient holistic system using medicated oil treatments and foods to bring the body to its natural balance and health.
A consultation with an Ayurvedic doctor determines each guest’s body type and current imbalances and prescribes a program consisting of daily massages and ancient traditional therapies.
Daily yoga and meditation classes are held in outdoor pavilions or the palace ballroom.
Visiting healing masters offer various programs: Quit Smoking, Diabetes and Cholesterol Management and Living With Arthritis are a few examples.
Alternative treatments include reiki, psycho energy healing, crystal healing, chakra healing and color therapy.
Fitness sessions are available in the gym, along with hiking in the hills and whitewater rafting on the Ganges.
Ananda in the Himalayas, The Palace Estate (Near Rishikesh), Narendranagar 249175 India; +91 13 7822 7500
Como Shambhala Estate (Ubud)
This uber-luxe wellness resort is secluded in the forested hills near Ubud.
Devoted to mind-body-spirit programs that aren’t everything for everybody “but the best to an exacting few,” this health destination for tropical luxury lovers is famed for its elegant villa interiors as much as its health offerings.
Plenty of feel-good massages and facials are available, as well as a variety of wellness therapies and events led by renowned visiting masters.
A quality, organic restaurant is in the complex.
The five-day retreat, with a results-driven agenda, focuses on intensive (five hours per day) yoga, Pilates and other wellness practices, and a diet of organic and raw cuisine.
Fitness and martial arts practices take place in a state of the art gym.
Activities include hiking, biking and rafting amid Bali’s stunning rice paddies and river gorges.
COMO Shambhala Estate, Banjar Begawan, Desa Melinggih Kelod Payangan, Ubud, Payangan, Bali 80571 Indonesia; +62 361 978 888/+62 81 238 982 16
Peppers Sentosa Seminyak Spa (Seminyak)
Peppers Sentosa Seminyak Spa offers an impressive range of wellness options -- from massages and facials to holistic energy healing -- without forcing guests to be recluses.
It’s a contemporary wellness center within a stylish boutique resort in Seminyak beach.
Next door to Seminyak’s boutiques, galleries, trendy eateries and bars, it’s easy to combine detoxing with shopping, sightseeing and surfing just outside the resort gates.
Inside the property, private garden-enclosed pool villas offer privacy from the outside world.
Wellness programs are tailored individually.
Some of the services include: detox and colonic programs, chakra-balancing, crystal healing, life coaching and even anti-aging medical spa services such as Botox and mesotherapy treatments.
Peppers Sentosa, Jalan Pura Telaga Waja, Seminyak, Bali 80361 Indonesia; +62 361 730 333
The Yoga Barn (Ubud)
With a rustic spiritual vibe, The Yoga Barn is a yoga studio, holistic healing retreat and small hotel.
It offers diverse programs taught by resident teachers and visiting faculty.
Daily yoga classes include classical hatha, vinyasa flow, power, pranayama, restorative, iyengar, yin and anusara yoga.
Other programs range from meditation and sound medicine to even more esoteric options such as kirtan and ecstatic dance.
One-on-one classes are available to students of all levels.
The cafe offers an organic health menu, while the shop is stocked with yoga and holistic products.
Located beside Ubud’s rice paddies, the Yoga Barn is walking distance to the Sacred Monkey Forest Ubud Sanctuary as well as the town’s shops and restaurants.
The Yoga Barn - Ubud, Jln Pengoseken, Ubud, Bali 80571 Indonesia; +62 361 971 236/+62 361 971 407
If you’re looking for a boot camp-style, assault course or triathlon training, this is the place.
Thanyapura promotes health, wellness and an improved life -- its tagline is “get more out of life" -- through sports and active lifestyle.
Numerous professional athletes from around the world come to train.
Top coaches and cutting-edge programs don’t only provide physical training but also “Sports Mindfulness training” and education about preventive medicine.
The vast complex includes four centers -- a Sports and Leisure Club, Mind Centre, Thanyapura Health and Phuket International Academy.
It also houses a "sports hotel" and a Thanyamundra wellness retreat.
An amazing range of sports academies -- football, aquatics, tennis, rugby, triathlon -- offer teams training and competitions at all levels and ages.
The complex houses various quality sports venues, fitness center and martial arts studios.
Facilities include a day spa, kids and teen clubs, arts studio, performance center and restaurants featuring organic cuisine, wine and cooking school.
Thanyapura Sports Hotel, 120 Moo 7, Thepkasattri Road, Phuket 83110 Thailand; +66 76 336 000
Chiva-Som International Health Resort (Hua Hin)
What do cigarettes and children have in common? Both are no-nos at this health resort in the royal beach town of Hua Hin.
Twenty years ago Chiva-Som was the region’s first luxury destination health resort and paved the way for Thailand’s standing as the spa capital of Asia.
It attracts celebrities like Kate Moss, David and Victoria Beckham and Elizabeth Hurley, as well as stressed-out CEOs looking for weight loss and anti-aging sessions.
Activities revolve around the gleaming health center, where spa and wellness treatments take place in sleek facilities modeled after a European luxury spa.
Arriving guests get health consultations and a custom-tailored program featuring daily massages.
The restaurant focuses on fat-free, weight-control food -- raw greens dominate the buffet.
Offerings include a range of holistic and alternative therapies such as acupuncture, energy healing, iridology, Emotional Freedom Technique, aqua aerobics, hypnosis, physiotherapy, yoga, Pilates and personal fitness training from a rotating list of visiting healers and wellness consultants.
Chiva-Som, 73 / 4 Petchkasem Road, Hua Hin 77110 Thailand; +66 3253 6536
Kamalaya Wellness Sanctuary (Koh Samui)
Conceived as a sanctuary for holistic healing by founders who had spent years living in Kathmandu, Kamalaya offers wellness retreats, detox, cleansing, yoga, emotional healing and spiritual offerings whose quality and excellence has led to numerous awards.
Set on a secluded beach by a hillside, its open-air wellness center and restaurants -- serving creative organic health cuisine -- in a lush natural surrounding.
The wellness center offers spa treatments, detox, colonics, Thai and Ayurvedic treatments, yoga, meditation and fitness training.
Resident Traditional Chinese Medicine doctors and visiting healers from around the world offer energy healing, sound therapy, emotional healing, chakra balancing, life coaching, osteopathy and cranial sacral therapy.
Kamalaya Koh Samui, 102/9 Moo 3, Laem Set Rd, Na-Mueang subdistrict, Laem Set, Ko Samui 84140 Thailand; +66 (0) 77 429 800
Samahita Wellness Retreat (Koh Samui)
Originally started as Yoga Thailand by a yoga teaching couple in 2003, this center evolved into Samahita Wellness Retreat in a few years.
Located on a pristine beach in a tranquil bay, it has three yoga studios including a beachfront yoga pavilion.
Samahita’s calendar offers regular teacher-training programs drawing students from around the world for international teacher certification and visiting yoga teachers.
It offers a variety of yoga (but it's best known for Ashtanga yoga), detox and wellness retreats and packages, daily, short- and long-term.
The open-air beach dining room is intimate and laid-back. The poolside restaurant offers organic, low-fat, high energy, mostly vegetarian food.
Samahita Retreat, 55/20-24 Moo 4 T. Namuang, Koh Samui Surat Thani, Thailand; +66 (0) 77 920 090 , +66 (0) 77 920 091, +66 (0) 831 752 730
Barberyn Ayurveda Resorts
Founded 31 years ago with a vision to create a traditional Ayurvedic healing resort, Barberyn has long been known only by word-of-mouth among mostly European wellness seekers.
There are two properties now, the original Barberyn Reef Resort, Beruwala (on a quiet beach on the west coast) and the newer Barberyn Beach Resort, Welligama, in the south, on a spectacular hillside sweeping down to the sea.
Barberyn is dedicated to healing through traditional Ayurvedic treatments consisting of custom-tailored, doctor-prescribed programs of daily Ayurvedic medicated oil massages, treatments, herbal medicines and tonics and pure Ayurvedic cuisine.
There's a stationing doctor in the dining room to ensure that guests on prescribed food programs stick to the foods designed to bring the body back into balance.
Many people come here for treatment for more serious medical conditions, such as recovery from strokes or surgery, healing from cancer or relief from illnesses through alternative holistic healing rather than pills and drugs.
Others simply come for a healthy holiday in a homey and friendly atmosphere while enjoying the fabulous beaches and sightseeing in Sri Lanka.
Barberyn Reef Ayurveda Resort, Beruwala KT12070 Sri Lanka; +94 34 227 6036
Barberyn Beach Ayurveda Resort, Kapparatota, Weligama, Matara MH81000 Sri Lanka; +94 41 225 2994
The Farm at San Benito (Philippines)
The only wellness sanctuary of its kind in the Philippines, The Farm offers holistic rejuvenation on the grounds of an eco-friendly coconut plantation a few hours outside Manila.
Popular for detox retreats, its Prevention and Recovery Retreats focus on medically guided detox procedures to cleanse the body, with psycho-emotional detoxification as an integral part of the program to cleanse the system of repressed and negative emotions that lead to illness.
It features one of Asia’s first and best vegan restaurants as well as a raw food restaurant, using produce fresh from its organic garden.
Wellness packages include customized detox treatment programs, yoga retreats and healing retreats.
Its 100% pure extra virgin coconut oil products are used in spa treatments and cooking.
The Farm donates part of its coconut oil earnings to support the local community and environment.
The Farm at San Benito, 119 Barangay Tipakan, Lipa City, Luzon 4217 Philippines; +63 2 884 8074