Asian holiday retreats for your health

by Bill Hersey

No matter where one travels nowadays it seems there’s more and more interest in and emphasis on health, nutrition, and looking and feeling better and younger. As most of you know, three of the most favorite things in my life are meeting people, mak­ing new friends, and adventure traveling. Every day I thank the man up there and a lot of people down here for giving me the opportunity to do a lot of all these things.

As this issue’s theme is health and beauty, I’d like to share memories of a few of the many fantastic spas in this part of the world I’ve spent some time at in the last year or so.

First, let’s visit Manila where they have a marvel­ous spa, salon, and organic cafe, called Sanctuario near Remedios Circle right in the center of the city’s tourist belt. Sanctuario was the brainchild of one of the Philippine’s top journalists. He bought two big old Spanish style houses and created a beautiful complex by joining them and their gardens in what’s labeled “Asia’s most innovative spa”. The reception area, lounges, rest and therapy rooms, as well as the organic restaurant are tastefully furnished with museum qual­ity Filipino furniture, mirrors, carved wood santos and antiques. There’s even a huge old wooden birdcage with a very friendly mynah bird.

The back garden features two hot Jacuzzis and a cold wading pool with a waterfall. Walking barefoot on a rock garden there provides a sole massage. Just off the garden area there’s a Turkish sweathouse, a dry sauna, a cavernous steam room, and a Filipino styled bathing area (teak wood tubs full of flower petals). The salon on the first floor has facilities for facials, masks, hair, foot and hand treatments, as well as manicures and pedicures. The therapists there really know what they’re doing.

Massage detox therapies, alternative healing, Filipino traditional healing, body scrubs, and a choice of pampering packages are done in special rooms on the second floor. Prices are very affordable. For exam­ple Lava Stone is ¥2,000 for one hour, a two-hour royal Turkish massage (herbal shampoo, honey tangerine facelift, teatree papaya wash, Java Body scrub and the yogurt body glow full body massage is about ¥5,000.

You’ll spend much of your time exploring the beautiful complex, relaxing at one of the meditation pavilions or secret nooks, where you lay back and enjoy the sur­rounding natural beauty.”

I tried the chocolate body scrub (chocolate coco­nut oil, cocabao milk bath, and the virgin coconut milk bath full body massage once and the coffee scrub another time. These are two-hour treatments and cost about ¥4,000. The menu of services is endless. My therapist there last time had just returned from Moscow where the Philippine government had sent him on a promo tour.

Sanctuario is located at 1829 Jorge Bocabo Street, Malate, and Manila. See or call +632-4501-127 for more details.

If you have more time when you’re in the Philippines and want to get out of Manila, it’s an hour and a half drive to The Farm at San Benito. They call themselves “The Hippocrates Health Resort of Asia”. Based on the holistic principle of a unified body, mind and spirit, the world-class health resort addresses every aspect of rejuvenation. The Farm is a former coconut and coffee plantation at the foothills of Mount Malarayat. There are acres of gardens, ponds, mountains, rivers, lagoons and waterfalls. The wealth of tropical flowers and plants are endless. All accommodations from uniquely designed thatched cottages to villas and master suites are designed to blend in with the natural environment. Every unit is exquisitely landscaped with privacy and comfort in mind.

Prices are very reasonable. My four-day stay was just ¥40,000. This included a nice cottage and garden, three meals a day, a two-hour massage under the stars, and a live cell analysis. I paid an extra $50 for an unbelievably soothing two-hour papaya scrub. The Farm has too wide range of medical programs, wellness packages, healing therapies, massage and spiritual development classes to chose from. The highly trained therapists really know what they’re doing.

The meals, based on the concept of high-enzyme nutrition and truly life-enhancing are created for the most part from organic fruits, vegetables, seeds and nuts—and are really delicious.

You’ll spend much of your time exploring the beautiful complex, relaxing at one of the meditation pavilions or secret nooks where you lay back and enjoy the surrounding natural beauty. Wherever you go there are the soothing sounds of waterfalls, fountains and trickling brooks. Other than that, and the occasional calls of the black swans and peacocks, the silence is marvelous.

There are no TVs or radios in the bungalows, but if you need a little— and I do mean little— more action, you can go to the library and watch a movie there or lay back on a lounge chair by the library’s ponds and catch up on a good book. The Farm is really very special in every way. After writing this column, and recalling my stay there, I realize I want to go back again.

For more information or reservations call +632-822-9056 or see

From the Philippines let’s move over to Bangkok’s stunning new 32-storeys, 543-rooms, ultra-contemporary Millennium Hilton Bangkok.

I could easily write (and hope to soon) a story on this super hotel located on the Chao Phraya River but for now just a bit on the hotel’s magnificent two-storey spa. Their classic signature treatment there is the ever-popular equilibrium therapy. It takes just 90 minutes and the combination of Thai royal honey and black sesame scrub and the stimulating massage of wild mint and Thai herbal pack is guaranteed to completely revitalize your day. While you’re at the hotel be sure and check out ‘The Beach’—a white sand sundeck and 20-meter infinity pool overlooking the river. Whatever, wherever, stay well.