7 Exotic Ways for the Busy Traveler to Unwind
You can still feel relaxed without missing out by immersing yourself in these rejuvenating and locally inspired activities.
Feel detoxified: Berlin
It’s not always easy for Central Europeans to get through the long winters, so saunas go a long way toward maintaining that vital mental and physical warmth. Berlin has some of the best on the continent — from the detoxifying and awakening peppermint sauna session at Vabali spa, adjacent to the verdant Tiergarten in the center of the city, to the ultra-contemporary Liquidrom, where DJs play sets while swimmers navigate the saltwater pool at midnight. Be aware before you visit that, although wearing swimsuits is considered perfectly acceptable, most Berliners will move through the cold and hot pools and the steam rooms in the nude — a situation you’ll find nicht gut or wunderbar. Vabali, Seydlitzstrasse 6, vabali.de. Liquidrom, Möckernstrasse 10, liquidrom-berlin.de
Feel spiritual: Koh Samui
Lush jungles, powder-soft sandy beaches, Technicolor sunsets: Koh Samui gently pulsates with tropical charm. And the local commitment to spiritual well-being is a gift that’s effortlessly and gladly shared with visitors. Begin with a trip to the Secret Buddha Garden, arrayed with stone Buddha statues and ponds thriving with fish and turtles. From here, head to the golden Laem Sor Pagoda, which shimmers on the banks on the waters. Finally, as the sun sets, spend time in Wat Plai Laem, a century-old temple surrounded by water. It’s the quintessentially perfect picture of a rural Thai dusk as the shadows lengthen and the sky bursts into orange and purple flames. Ask your concierge to help arrange your visit.
Feel crafty: Kyoto
Centuries of expertise go into some of the incredible creations and experiences that the skilled artisans of Kyoto continue to produce and provide. Wellness and tradition are served in a cup at En Teahouse. With one of the most elaborate tea ceremonies in the city, the hosts provide a master class in the subtle art of tea preparation, with its graceful, soothing movements. Participants can even make their own traditional powdered green tea, which has a history dating back to religious rituals in 12th-century Buddhist monasteries. Monks prepared their tea just so as an expression of mindfulness — and to stay awake during meditation. 272, Matsubara-cho, Higashiyama-ku, teaceremonyen.com
Feel futuristic: Miami
Once solely a party town, Miami is beginning to place as much emphasis on the holistic as the hedonistic with a wealth of genuinely boundary-pushing wellness options. For a glimpse into fitness’s future head to the intimate Skanda Yoga studio. Created by Ken von Roenn III, this new type of power yoga consists of over 500 poses and 60 sequences based on the ancient 13-moon calendar, which is believed to improve harmony and create magic in your life. Over at Reset on Miami Beach, wellness and sci-fi fuse with a whole-body cryotherapy treatment that claims to give a huge endorphin boost, burn hundreds of calories and speed up muscle recovery in a mere three-minute session. Skanda Yoga, 1800 SW First Ave., Ste. 102, skandayoga.com. Reset, 1800 Purdy Ave., Marina Ste. 3A, resetfml.com
Feel peaceful: Muscat
“The fruit of silence is tranquility” says an ancient Arab proverb. Lacking the frenetic pace of other Gulf cities, the Omani capital has a treasure trove of spaces where quietude is ensured. Begin your contemplative journey with an early morning saunter along Ras Al Hadd and Ras Al Junayz beaches, where you may have only semi-resident turtles for company. When the heat of the afternoon subsides, head to Muscat Bay to view the exterior of the mighty Al Jalali fort. The silhouettes of the ancient turrets and walls of the 16th-century outpost, with the tide crashing and swelling beyond, makes for a suitably atmospheric spot for a bit of solo mindfulness at dusk.
Feel healed: Shanghai
In Shanghai, as in all of China, a massage isn't a sybaritic luxury; it's a medicinal essential for maintaining balance, flow, energy and the all-important qi. And amid Shanghai's breathless energy you’ll need a dose of the Chinese massage experience to make the most out of this most exhilarating of Asian cities. You can reduce the urban crescendo to a softer melodic strain at the Spa at The Portman Ritz-Carlton, Shanghai, where the treatments are inspired by ancient massage techniques. Remove your watch, turn off your phone, close your eyes and submit to the pleasures of the Detoxifying Lymphatic treatment: The vigorous rhythmic strokes help to smooth skin tone and increase the volume of lymph flow, ridding the body of toxins and giving your qi a most valuable boost. Shanghai Center, 1376 W. Nanjing Road, ritzcarlton.com
Feel sated: Singapore
Health, wellness and great tasting food rarely come together in such flavorful harmony as they do in Singapore. At Little Green Kitchen, Shalu Asnani runs a cooking studio exclusively focused on vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free cooking. She also creates individually tailored plans to help at-home cooks clear the hurdles that come up in meal preparation, whether that means avoiding sneaky allergens, like gluten and nuts, or crafting healthy dishes that still pack plenty of flavor. If you’re in search of a cure for that most common of travel ills, homesickness, then head to Grandmothers’ Recipes, where Rosaline Soon teaches traditional Teochew-Peranakan cuisine. Fusing Chinese and Malay influences, Soon’s classes end with a sit-down meal in her home, where you may even meet members of her family. Little Green Kitchen, 1 Hacienda Grove, Upper East Coast Road, littlegreenkitchen.com.sg. Grandmothers’ Recipes, 81 Gardenia Road, grandmothersrecipes.com.sg
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Plan Your Stay in these Destinations
Location Koh Samui, Thailand
Experience The Samui Way of Life
- Embrace soothing luxury in 175 ocean-front suites and villas
- Immerse in a unique outdoor street food dining experience at Baan Talat
- Relax and renew at the spa with treatments inspired by natural local ingredients and healing practices