For many of us, the holiday season is about overindulgence. But it’s easier than ever to find a detox retreat, thanks to the fast growth of wellness tourism. This hospitality sector is exploding globally but particularly in Asia, where the top spa resorts rely on ancient Asian medicinal theory.
Ananda Uttarakhand, India
Guests at this 40-hectare palace estate overlooking the Ganges River Valley in northern India can pack light: they’re provided with simple white kurtas to wear. These and the minimalist yet comfortable rooms help to declutter the mind so you can focus on the spa’s Ayurvedic-influenced wellness. Nearly 100 treatments are on offer in the 24-room spa. An initial consultation with an Ayurvedic doctor includes evaluating the nadi, or pulse, and a determination of one’s dosha, or body type. All guests eat wholesome gourmet meals customised for their specific health profile. Guests’ goals vary from relaxing rejuvenation and basic detox to one of the intensive weeks-long programmes of stimulating and purifying therapies, along with daily yoga and meditation.
Chiva Som Hua Hin, Thailand
Serious detox is managed with Swiss precision at this beachfront retreat three hours’ drive from Bangkok. Guests meet with a wellness advisor upon arrival to undergo a physical analysis and to personalise the programme around individual goals while incorporating activities like pranayama breathing and cooking classes to master the spa’s notably gourmet dishes. To kick-start weight loss, many opt for the seven-day cleanse of juice, wheatgrass shots, potassium broth and surprisingly delicious liver-detox tea. In addition to private sessions with experts delivering targeted therapies like lymphatic drainage and chi nei tsang stomach massage, this spa offers a packed daily schedule of classes, including 7am tai chi, boot camp sessions, Thai boxing, fruit carving, Pilates and crystal sound therapy just before bedtime
Kamalaya Koh Samui, Thailand
The views are enough to soothe frayed urban nerves at this palm-filled, hillside sanctuary perched above Laem Set Beach. But guests also come here for the customised detox, yoga, stress management, fitness and weight loss programmes. In the spa, the usual massages are on offer, but guests should especially consider acupuncture and tui na (Chinese therapeutic massage), as the co-owner is an expert in traditional Chinese medicine and has a knack for finding exceptional practitioners. Holistic fitness happens all day here, with a dawn-to-dusk schedule of aerobic, yoga and meditative exercises. Healthy, nutritional food is served in bountiful amounts, accompanied by fruit juices and green smoothies. Don’t leave without getting a mani-pedi by the pool, which faces the Gulf of Thailand.
Ulpotha Dambulla, Sri Lanka
This retreat amid organic red-rice paddies forgoes electricity, which guests barely miss as they settle into their rooms set up with ultra-comfortable beds, open-air showers and aromatic bath amenities. In a simple mud spa hut, Ayurveda experts identify bodily imbalances with a thorough consultation that involves blood pressure readings and an extensive examination of the tongue. Doctor-prescribed programmes here include warm oil massages and relaxing herbal baths, as well as elimination therapies such as inhaling oil to clear sinuses and enemas. Twice daily yoga sessions are led by visiting instructors from around the world. Open only from November to March and June to August, this retreat otherwise operates as a traditional rice-growing village. That authenticity is part of the charm
Flights per week from Hong Kong
Cathay Dragon: Phuket: 14
Cathay Pacific: Bangkok: 56, Colombo: 7, Delhi: 14
Flight and hotel packages are available from Cathay Pacific Holidays at cathaypacific.com