Jan 4, 2021
CRUISING DOWN BANGKOK’S Chao Phraya at sunrise hits differently. The snaking river’s glassy waters are cast in pink as the sun peeps behind office towers and skyscraping hotel buildings. Other than the hum of Peninsula Bangkok’s teakwood boat, the sleepy city hears only the cry of the occasional koel bird. It’s Bangkok at its most peaceful.
We’re on our way to do sunrise yoga, an activity that is all but guaranteed to be on every hotel’s wellness program itinerary. However, Peninsula Bangkok’s new ‘Health and Wellbeing’ initiative offers the activity at an ancient Chinese shrine down the river from the hotel. So if you’re anything like me, you’ll be easing into that contemplative, in-your-feels yoga state even before you’re on the mat.
The session finishes with a stroll around the sacred site and a shockingly sweet fresh coconut. Although our ride back to the hotel is decidedly less peaceful than earlier (peak time for commuter boats; increasingly hot sun), I’m all zenned-out and ready to keep the vibe going at breakfast.
What in normal times is one of the most impressive hotel buffets in Bangkok, the Peninsula’s river-bordering breakfast is now mostly a la carte with a few stations scattered about. I’m most impressed-slash-excited with the yogurt bowl station. Not (only) because I am a millennial who has grown up in the era of the smoothie bowls and avocado toast, but because it is actually legit. Among other options, there is almond milk quinoa yogurt, chocolate coconut yogurt, and soy milk yogurt, with powder toppings like matcha, spirulina, and wheatgrass. Then, of course, you have your gluten-free granola and selection of picture-perfect berries—a rarity in this part of the world.
I’m feeling like a green goddess, which coincidentally is the name of the green juice I’m sipping on—until I’m tempted by the Peninsula Breakfast Stand. The three-tiered tray is packed with cheeses, charcuterie, swordfish and all the components to build your own lox-and-everything-else bagel. It’s all good; I’ll use my impending Aqua Fit session this afternoon as an excuse for the overindulgence.
In the meantime, I work on my wellbeing by sitting by the pool. The two-night ‘Active Body and Healthy Mind’ package generously offers up to five spa treatments, five exercise classes, breakfast, lunch and dinner, and check-in and check-out on the famously flexi Peninsula Time. This means I have the horribly taxing task of planning my spa treatments so they don’t coincide with my workouts and riverside meals.
When it is time for my Aqua Fit session, I am thankful I chose a time when the sun was still hot and nobody was in the pool. That’s because it may have been the most fun yet painfully embarrassing 40 minutes of my life. On a buoyed standup paddleboard at the end of the hotel’s pool, pop music is bumping from a speaker and I am attempting to do HIIT exercises like jump squats and broad jumps without falling in. It’s way harder than I had imagined, so my every move is made with arms spread like an eagle to keep balance. They also don’t end up to be moves, really. More like slight hip movements accompanied by lots of girlish squealing. Afterwards, my instructor tells me I’m the first person he’s taught here who hasn’t splash-landed once, and I’m both impressed with myself and completely bewildered at how I willed myself to do that.
For the sake of the program, I opt for the baby kale salad and charred octopus as opposed to the burger with foie gras. Aside from, you know, clean arteries, I’ll be heading to the spa for The Essential Mind treatment—oil massage coupled with vibrational sound therapy for a more relaxed sleep—after dinner and don’t want to feel anything less than a green goddess coming out of there.
By 9 p.m. I’m out cold, and the next day wake up groggy for my mindfulness breathing class in the garden. (Pro tip: if you’re a coffee drinker, try to get a cuppa before this activity’s 6 a.m. call time. Otherwise, you may end up drooling down your white meditation jammies, forcing your poor instructor to have to poke you awake.) The rest of my stay: a muay Thai boxing class in the garden, a few more healthy dishes, and a final, more indulgent, dinner at the hotel’s gorgeous Thai restaurant Thipara.
I like this type of wellness program; I can build my own itinerary and no one is going to judge if I order a glass of wine with my dinner. Plus, being on the other side of the Chao Phraya always feels like I am much further than the 10-minute motorcycle taxi ride it takes to my condo.
Feeling extra delicate and wholesome after three days of selfcare, I opt to take a taxi back home when I check out at 5 p.m. Between you and me, the only reason I didn’t wait, luxuriate and check out at 11:30 p.m. was that I was hit with an undeniable craving for fried chicken and sticky rice and didn’t want to ruin my green goddess reputation at the hotel. Even if it was only self-proclaimed.
The Peninsula Bangkok’s Active Body and Healthy Mind Package includes: two nights’ accommodation in a Deluxe Room; 24-hour flexible check-in and checkout benefits; healthy breakfast, lunch and dinner at The Lobby or River Café & Terrace; up to five spa treatments at The Peninsula Spa; up to five exercise classes, including HIIT, yoga, pilates, stretching, aqua yoga, Aqua Fit, muay Thai boxing, boot camp and tennis; and one mindfulness breathing class. Prices start from Bt28,000 per person and Bt 45,000 for two people; contact The Peninsula Spa at +66 2 020 2888 or firstname.lastname@example.org.