By Kee Foong
Dec 13, 2021
ANY NOTION THAT MY WELLCATION at Asaya Lodge at the Rosewood Hong Kong would be all quiet reflection and pampering is disabused after I sign up for a cardio active class. As the only participant on this particular morning, it turns into a personal training session. My trainer, Acton, warns me it will be fast and furious, with little in the way of breaks, yet I still find myself surprised by the intensity of it.
We start with running on the spot, star jumps and sit ups. After five minutes, I’m cursing. Within 10, I’m too out of breath to do so. Acton keeps adding to the torture – push-ups, side steps, burpees, you name it. Just when I think I can’t go on, he introduces an exercise so preposterously difficult, I gasp: “You’re f*@!ing kidding me!” He’s not. Somehow, I struggle through, grinning like an idiot at the end, strangely proud of my effort.
Rewind to the evening before, and it’s more what I had in mind for a wellcation. The package, which includes a stay in one of two dedicated Asaya Lodges set within the hotel’s vast wellness area, is designed as a restorative getaway that’s as easy or as active as you want it to be. It’s like a mini-resort within the hotel, with apothecary, beauty salon, spa treatment rooms, fitness center, pool, boutique and restaurant making one lovely whole.
Upon checking in, I’m asked to choose my preferred scents among dozens of essential oils, to be used for a massage later that evening (tip: arrive early as the check-in and scent-selection process can take a while). Formalities done, I’m taken through a tranquil courtyard to my lodge, an urban hideout in the heart of the city. The interiors are cool, calm and uncluttered, with pebbled floors, soft lighting and a bathroom that’s as big as most Hong Kong apartments. A bag of crisps in the complimentary minibar signals that this isn’t all bootcamp.
My first session is with Dr. Tal, a soft-spoken naturopath whose voice could sell a thousand meditation apps. The Canadian-trained practitioner compares himself to a GP who makes health assessments and helps people with chronic conditions, but without relying on medication.
We chat about my health through the lens of diet, nutrition and lifestyle, his specialties. Thankfully, the good doctor is a proponent of moderation, and doesn’t tut-tut, tell me to give up carbs, or alcohol. Rather, he shares sensible information, and steers me towards action, like eating more blueberries and fish to help mental acuity, based on my concerns.
What’s more, he recognizes the importance of doing things that brings us joy (if you want pizza, have it, but make sure it’s a great one), and by the end of our session, I’m a little less anxious about my hedonistic lifestyle. To get the best out of Dr. Tal, come prepared with an idea of what you want from the experience.
The wellcations at Asaya Lodge are designed to promote restful sleep, which can often be hard to come by in busy-busy Hong Kong. It’s suggested I have an early dinner from Mediterranean-inspired Asaya Kitchen, before an aromatherapy massage in my private spa-treatment room. The massage helps me wind down, and for good measure, I try out a sleep kit, which includes a blackout mask and pre-loaded apps that send one off to dreamland.
I wake up early for a swim before the crowds arrive. Even on a grey morning, the infinity-edged pool is highly photogenic, a limpid mirror that reflects the shafts of light and the billowing clouds above. It’s catnip to KOLs real and aspiring, making the pool more popular for selfies than for swimming.
Next in my busy schedule is a challenging yoga class, followed by a nourishing and delicious breakfast at Asaya Kitchen. Fresh mango is spiked with almond and lime zest, eggs are perfectly poached, the yolk flowing over a creamy bed of ripe avocado, and pepper-cured mackerel provides a wake-up call to the palate. Portion sizes are just right and I feel satisfied rather than stuffed.
Lunch, too, is at Asaya Kitchen, where I catch up with Rosewood’s recently appointed wellness director, Corinna Yap. Over plates of amberjack crudo, green salad, seafood couscous and bouillabaisse, we discuss what is in store for the Hong Kong property and beyond. Corinna, who spent years with Como Hotels and Resorts, plans for Asaya to be a complete urban wellness concept that will be rolled out to other properties, a mix of traditional day spa and more intensive retreats such as Kamalaya or Chiva Som in Thailand.
With many in Asia still unable to or cautious about travel, Covid anxieties still weighing on many of our minds, and the definition of “hotel spa” in the process of broadening already pre-Covid, it makes perfect sense. Nearly all high-end hotels talk about holistic approaches, but many provide little more than fancy massages, scrubs and facials. Asaya offers all that and more, with a comprehensive program that actually addresses mental, emotional and physical wellness.
Suffering from anxiety or stress? In-house mindfulness practitioner Kit Shum is qualified to deal with mental health, trauma and substance abuse issues. Got a bad back or creaky knees? Then resident sports and rehabilitation practitioner Terry Burge and his healing hands is your man. Dance classes, mediation, singing bowl sessions, astrology readings, pilates, barre and more, and you can go as hard or easy as you want. With so many therapies and classes to choose from, one night is simply not enough, and longer programs are in the pipeline. Stay tuned.
One-night wellcation in an Asaya Lodge from HK$8,000; rosewoodhotels.com/en/hong-kong/wellness/asaya-offers/discover-asaya-wellcation
All photos courtesy of Asaya Lodge