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The lagoon pool at The Ritz-Carlton Sanya, Yalong Bay.

First Business, Then Pleasure

Article by Rob Crossan 08.20.2018

Four blissful resorts that are a short drive or plane ride away from a major city.

The meeting’s over and your phone’s on silent. Your laptop is quietly charging, and your office attire has been neatly folded (or joyfully flung) into the far reaches of your suitcase.

Now is the time to kick back.

To reap the rewards of pleasure after business, sometimes you need to put some miles (a few, but not too many) between yourself and the working realm. These resorts are all within easy range of some of the world’s most expansive mercantile hubs. But they’re just far enough away to let your mind concentrate on other things, whether they be of the sporting, therapeutic, epicurean or indulgent variety.


Resort: The Ritz-Carlton Bacara, Santa Barbara

Distance: A two-hour drive from Los Angeles

A man walks down a path toward the ocean

From the regal Spanish colonial-style buildings to the vast sweep of immaculate gardens to the direct beach access, the Bacara, just a couple of hours by car from the heart of Los Angeles, somehow manages to scoop up everything that’s alluring about coastal California and present it in a style both relaxing and refined. Settle in for some serious recharging in the resort’s Oceano cabanas, complete with a TV, lounge furniture and oodles of space with direct access to the Cabana Pool. When you’re ready to rouse yourself back into action, the clay tennis courts on-site are the perfect place to unleash your inner Serena or Federer. Resident pro coaches are on hand to offer private and semiprivate lessons for guests of any ability. Quite simply, few sounds are more satisfying and civilized than the thwack of a backhander flying over the net underneath those pellucid West Coast skies.


Resort: Penha Longa Resort

Distance: A 100-minute flight from Barcelona

As you may expect from a resort that contains on its lush grounds a 14th-century monastery, Penha Longa exudes a beatific, soulful atmosphere at one with its location in the deep, crumpled folds of the mountains. Less than two hours by plane from Barcelona, the resort promises the ultimate in mindful rejuvenation from city life with its Retreat Energize experiences, which range from one to seven days. Let your personal trainer guide you to tailored spa treatments, yoga, breath exercises and aromatherapy. Let those craggy Sintra mountains and the shimmering Iberian sunshine do the rest.


Resort: The Ritz-Carlton Sanya, Yalong Bay

Distance: A 90-minute flight from Hong Kong

The turquoise waters of secluded Yalong Bay lap onto vanilla sand as soft as cotton. Here on Hainan, China’s only truly tropical island, the frenetic pace of Hong Kong, just a short flight away, slows from urban sprint to gentle amble — preferably an amble in the direction of the 30,000-square-foot spa for a Tropical Poultice Massage. Combining Thai lemongrass exfoliation with warm herbal poultices (which can help increase circulation, soothe muscles and improve the immune system), you’ll walk out 60 minutes later feeling akin to one of the spa’s lotus ponds — in other words, cool, calm and serene.


Resort: The Ritz-Carlton, Langkawi

Distance: A one-hour flight from Kuala Lumpur

A short flight from the Malaysian capital, Langkawi is an enchanted island of mangroves and deep, unbroken forest, all in the shadow of the majestic heights of Mount Machinchang. The natural larder of this edifying, and edible, region can be sampled in the form of the Discover Malay Delicacies cooking class. Whether your skill level be modest or Michelin-star worthy, you’ll learn how to create classic Malay dishes with a local chef as your guide. Kick back on the canopied roof terrace of the Langkawi kitchen afterward to eat your creations, which could include anything from Gulai Udang (a fragrant fish curry with pineapple) to Ayam Percik (a spicy chicken dish with peanut sauce and coconut rice cooked in a banana leaf).


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Plan Your Stay in these Destinations

  • Santa Barbara

    Location Santa Barbara, California

    Experience An oceanfront resort for relaxation and adventure.

    • Oceanfront location with three pools
    • Expansive spa and wellness center
    • 70,000 square feet of event space
  • Penha Longa Resort

    Location Sintra, Portugal

    Experience A quintessential retreat among rolling hills and mountain lakes.

    • A palazzo estate steeped in history
    • Unlimited championship golf experiences
    • Set within a 1355 monastery
  • Sanya

    Location Sanya, Hainan, China

    Experience Pristine beaches, rainforests and the clear South China Sea.

    • An ideal beachfront family resort in Sanya
    • Bespoke service throughout your stay
    • A one-of-a-kind retreat in “Oriental Hawaii”
  • Langkawi

    Location Langkawi, Malaysia

    Experience Rainforest retreat overlooking the sea

    • Island’s only overwater spa
    • Beachfront, vitality and adults-only infinity pools
    • Batik painting, wildlife photography and other activities