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Distance by Design: Wellbeing Picks for 2021

Wellbeing is an area of travel that has taken on new meaning in the post-pandemic world.

Wellbeing is an area of travel that has taken on new meaning in the post-pandemic world. It’s not just about massages and face scrubs; it’s about healing. Asia is well-known for the depth and history of its health and wellness traditions — from the origins of Thai massage beginning at Wat Po in Bangkok to onsens on Honshu Island. Hotels and industry pros are looking for new ways to stay in touch with their travelers in the post-Covid world in ways that enlighten and explore.

Northern Thailand

“Our focus for the rest of this year … is the launch of our ‘Journey of Wellbeing’ program, led by our in-house Naturopath Sudha Nair and a team of experts in holistic health and wellness,” says Anthony Gill, General Manager of Four Seasons Resort Chiang Mai and Tented Camp Golden Triangle. “We recognize that now, more than ever, focusing on wellbeing — whether it is physical, emotional, social, or nutritive – is key.”

This year marks the 25th anniversary of Four Seasons Chiang Mai in Thailand’s mountainous north, and they are marking the occasion with a renewed focus on wellbeing. Alongside relaunching the Wara Cheewa Spa, Gill says they will be introducing four result-oriented modules that are designed to alleviate pain, manage weight, combat stress and cleanse the mind, body, and spirit.

Still further north outside of Chiang Rai and on the Mekong, the Four Seasons Tented Camp features spa treatments al-fresco, with the fresh breeze serving as a relaxing tonic. Better still, the expert therapists will arrange personalized spa experiences based on the given needs of guests, as desired.


This spirit can be found throughout Southeast Asia, but one of the most luxurious wellness options for travelers concerned in wellbeing, is Ubud, the jungle heart of Bali. While the area can boast a number of holistic healing facilities — such as Mandapa and the Capella Ubud — the Como Shambhala Estate is perhaps the most notable on the island.

From the massage therapy workshops to the yoga and the body care to the holistic wellness programs, this is a resort for proper pampering. One of this resort’s signature experiences is the “Day of Tranquility” in the Water Garden: enjoying the natural spring water, an hour-long COMO Shambhala treatment at Rashmi, and a private meditation class.

Interestingly, the spa pool draws water from The Source, a local natural mineral-rich spring considered by locals to have healing properties, and for the more yogic minded, Como Shambhala guests can practice yoga with a personal teacher and learn from Ayurvedic doctors and nutritionists on site. 


For travelers hoping to get into travel as soon as possible, it will likely be a winter journey, and for that Japan’s onsens are often the dichotomy of choice. To the traveler who travels for wellness, the Amanemu is an unbeatable option, especially when combined with the “Pilgrim’s Path”.

The Kumano Kodo Pilgrimage, or “Pilgrim’s Path”, follows the grand shrines of Kumano, adding a pleasing mental health element to the treatments.  Featuring the Grand Shrines of Kumano Hongu, Kumano Hayatama, and Kumano Nachi in an area dotted with steaming, bubbling Japanese onsens, each night travelers will stay in either a luxe hotel or in the serene surroundings of Shukubo.

Found in Ise Shima National Park on the Kii Peninsula, the hot spring-laden Amanemu offers 24 suites and four two-bedroom villas of the ryokan experience. Sprawling more than 20,000 square feet, the mineral-rich onsen waters around which Amanemu wellness center is built to provide guests with onsen pavilions and treatment suites.

Ideally this plush pilgrimage can be combined with a few of Japan’s cities — and the surrounds of the Aman Kyoto — but travelers wanting something a little more wild will want to travel north to Tohoku, where the lesser facilities are made up for by the natural splendor.