Four romantic wellness resorts in South-East Asia for the mind and body

BALI

Alila Resort, Ubud.

Alila Resort Ubud is a great start for a healing break in Bali because of its remote, stunning jungle location with its proximity, at only 15min away, to the arts, crafts, and culture of central Ubud.  Arriving at reception, the first thing you’ll observe is the harmonization of architecture and nature. Blending contemporary design and traditional Balinese architecture, the resort sits high up on the edge of the verdant Ayung River valley in Bali’s central foothills. The wood exteriors of the villas with their tall thatched roofs complement the dense botanical richness all around.  The Pool Villa provides 120sqm of space and seclusion with high ceilings, landscaped gardens with a large private swimming pool, and an open-air bathtub set in the middle of a lotus pond bustling with fish and garrulous frogs. Cobblestone walls surround each villa and line the footpaths adding to the feeling that this must be Middle Earth!

The resort restaurant Plantation built in the Balinese style with an angular straw roof over tall trunk-like pillars is the perfect setting for a contemplative morning coffee and an ‘a la carte’ buffet.  Plantation’s lunch and dinner menu infuse organic health and freshness into every dish. Executive Chef Erwan Wijaya is committed to locally sourced ‘Farm to Table’ freshness and is a proponent of the ‘Slow Food’ movement. Plantation has earned the ‘Snail of Approval’ by Slow Food Bali for its organic and sustainable food, and has been voted “Best Balinese Restaurant” in the 2014 and 2015 Now! Best of Bali Awards.  Downstairs from Plantation is Cabana Lounge, overlooking Alila Ubud’s celebrated 25-meter infinity swimming pool on the ridge of the valley. Cabana provides evening relaxation with a drink menu curated by Conrad Michael O’Riordan, whose creative flair is more than evident in the selection of signature organic cocktails, featuring ingredients picked fresh from Alila’s organic garden. The highlight of a stay at any Alila resort is to spend at least half a day at the Alila Spa. The spa provides unique holistic treatments developed in-house, blending traditional Balinese healing techniques with timeless beauty recipes using all natural ingredients.  Alila has its own line of bath and spa products.  They also feature unique outdoor treatments in inspiring settings.  As it was raining we chose the indoor Balinese massage. With the sound of the rain and the precise but intuitive palm and thumb pressure on your limbs and back, you’ll surely drift into a state of Zen.

VIETNAM

Fusion Maia Da Nang

Nestled between Bac My An and Non Nuoc is Fusion Maia Da Nang, a unique beachfront wellness retreat with private pool villas.  The first resort in Asia to offer an ‘all-spa inclusive’ service for all guests, Fusion puts the emphasis on wellness and the balance of mind, body, and soul at its luxurious and sublime Maia Spa.  The Signature therapies take a holistic approach that incorporates Reiki energy, crystals, warm coconut oil with light body brush techniques, along with aromatherapy, Himalayan heart stone, and homemade scrubs and body wraps using premium natural ingredients.  Maia Spa includes a nearby swimming pool, outdoor yoga, and tai chi deck, beauty salons, steam and sauna rooms, a wellness studio and lounge, and even a waterfall with a heated pool.  It’s a truly standout experience whether you are a first-timer or a veteran of spa regimes.  All guests are guaranteed a minimum of 2 spa treatments per day included in their standard room rate. Another highlight of Fusion is the buffet breakfast which offers an array of foods that, depending on your inclinations, can be decadent or detoxing.  If you need your beauty sleep and miss it, don’t worry – another innovative concept at Fusion is the ‘breakfast anywhere, anytime’ service. 

From Fusion resort it’s well worth catching a taxi to the nearby ‘Marble Mountains’ a cluster of five marble and limestone hills impressively laid out with pagodas, temples, stunning views, and deep caverns adorned with a variety of Buddhist sculptures and strange lighting. The resort also offers daily shuttle service to and from the ancient town of Hoi An.

The Anam (Cam Rhan – Nha Trang)

You will surely be more than pleasantly surprised by a sojourn at a luxury beach resort The Anam – from entering the lobby to exploring the grounds, you’ll feel transported back in time to a bygone era of high craftsmanship, distinctive colonial designs, beautiful Moroccan-style tiling and exquisite attention to detail. Even the expansive golf-green lawns are painstakingly maintained and a pleasure to stroll on. The beach offers a lovely long stretch of golden sand with straw-made parasols and handsome wood beach recliners.

The staff is also very welcoming, highly trained and helpful. You will be impressed by the working level of English many of the local attendants possessed. The German resident manager Norbert is very informative and can give you a charming tour of the grounds and of the offerings at Lang Viet Restaurant – the resort’s Vietnamese cuisine specialist which provides a culinary journey with regional dishes from north to south. Try the sweet and sour catfish and pineapple soup with a side of signature spring rolls. Simply mouthwatering.

Highly recommended for families, the three bedrooms’ villa spread on two floors has terraces overlooking the private pool and a sloping stretch of green grass. The bathrooms are spacious and supplied with thoughtful quality amenities. A favorite evening hangout is at the beach house sports bar with its sunset happy hour. Breakfast at The Indochine offers an ample feast with premium selections of just about everything you might desire, along with fresh juices, fruits, salads, and cheeses.  The restaurant also serves a gourmet selection of Asian cuisines for dinner.

Indeed, fine food is an ongoing theme at this luxurious resort. At The Colonial, The Anam’s European restaurant, you can ask for a customized dinner after chatting with the head chef the day before. The ambiance and service are refined to perfection. You can enjoy a marvelous evening with live piano, and an excellent wine pairing introduced by the head waitress. Saigon bar next door provided premium cocktails and rare spirits accompanied by live music as well. 

Overall The Anam is more like a vacation within a vacation. With a variety of rooms and villas available, 3 massive pools, a blue lagoon, and even a 3D movie theater with daily screenings, of one thing I am certain:  it won’t be long before you will wish to return.  

Fusion Resort Phu Quoc

Recently opened in late 2017, we were curious to experience the much talked about Fusion Resort Phu Quoc. Situated on a tranquil golden sand beach perfect for morning strolls and sunsets, the resort has the added charm of a nearby river and tropical forest, great for kayaking and leisurely hikes. Arriving, we were impressed by the stately wood designs, the tall slanted roof and hanging lamps, and the welcome staff at reception. The Fusion brand bills itself as a spa-inclusive wellness resort and this is both accurate and an understatement.

My first full day started with a phenomenal breakfast buffet, an antidote to the fast food and urban mayhem I had just came from in Bangkok.  After seating myself on the restaurant terrace surrounded by very verdant lotus ponds and a clear view of the ocean, I perused the breakfast selection: an array of fresh juices, locally grown fruits and vegetables, organic yogurt, flavorful cheeses, exotic nuts, and a balanced variety of Vietnamese, Western, and Chinese dishes. An a la carte menu, coffee, and teas, made everything perfect.

The Maia spa was also fantastic with a variety of treatments to look forward to each day. Must try experiences are the locally sourced pepper scrub, the coconut scrub, and the traditional Vietnamese massage. The masseuses did not speak English but their hands did all the talking, demonstrating highly trained and intuitive skills. Along with the sauna, the inclusive yoga, tai-chi, meditation, cardio, and high-intensity workouts, there are a variety of ways to kick-start your morning. Combined with the kayaking, the fresh juices, and clean air, it wasn’t long before a major detox breakthrough was underway.

The layout of the villas and their interior design are also impressive. Spacious with quality traditional furnishings, and an all wood bathtub, all villas come with private patio, pool, and lawn. The lovely cobblestone walls are just high enough for privacy but low enough for great views of the hills, jungle, and river. The thatched straw roofing gave the resort a nice village feel. Buggy service was easily available but after getting oriented we enjoyed walking the grounds.

With the sunset, we recommend the pool and beach bar Soul Kitchen which has daily 2-for-1 happy hours at very reasonable prices. Steps away facing the beach, the huge round infinity pool is a great place to chill out, mix with other guests, play with the kids, or take a dip with your sweetheart. All in all, Fusion Phu Quoc offers the best of both worlds, health and well-being, pleasure and indulgence.  Combining them gracefully is the art of life and the art of Fusion. 

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