Body and Soul

Promoting a healthy mind and body among employees is increasingly advocated by companies as they observe the adverse effects of stress and overwork to an individual’s productivity. It is hardly surprising then that we are now seeing offsite corporate incentives being built solely around a health and wellness programme. Following are five destinations in Asia-Pacific whose concept of wellness goes beyond standard spa treatments.

Batangas, The Philippines

SETTING: Rows and rows of palm trees, mountainous horizons and serene lagoons make The Farm at San Benito quite the earthly paradise. Located in Lipa, Batangas, 90 minutes from Manila, The Farm offers an inviting reprieve from the buzz of the city. Groups can be accommodated in the nine Palmera Suites and six Garden Villa Rooms; the 39 sqm Palmera Suites can accommodate pairs, while the 80 sqm Garden Villas each welcome three guests. Recent additions are the new 200 sqm Narra Villas, which boast their own terrace and 3×8-metre heated swimming pools with hydro jets.
FOCUS AND BENEFITS: The Farm promotes holistic mind and body restoration for worn out business people through healthy eating, meditative exercise and a series of detoxification programmes. Everything edible at The Farm is served raw and fresh. Five-course meals are available for lunch and dinner, with recipes specially formulated by both resident and visiting chefs. Dishes are made using only organic vegetables and herbs grown at the farm itself; preparation is done through low-temperature steaming, blanching and poaching, or served raw after dehydrating, fermenting, sprouting and marinating. Corporate groups should try the five-day, four-night Prevention Detox Programme, which is aimed at cleansing body toxins and boosting immunity. Groups go on a medically guided juice fast, participate in yoga and other fitness activities such as circuit training and aqua aerobics, and enjoy nutritional support and integrated medical services, which include sessions of colon hydrotherapy, nutritional microscopy and wheatgrass infusion therapy. Group members are also given a one-on-one health consultation with the resident medical doctor, a fitness assessment with a trainer and a range of spa treatments. Wellness talks are also conducted.
GROUP SIZE: An average of 20 per group.

Phuket, Thailand

SETTING: The Mind Centre, located within the Thanyapura compound, is a dedicated facility for the cultivation of mental and emotional health, housed in a pearl-white, one-storey building. Groups are invited to classes on meditation, psychology and yoga in one of the classrooms, or have their sessions conducted at Thanyamudra, a secluded, private resort two hours away from the Thanyapura compound. Adjacent to the Khao Sok National Park, Thanyamudra’s 23 hectares of lush valley boast spectacular views of organic farm terraces, the rainforest’s karsts and undulating hills shrouded in mist and clouds.
FOCUS AND BENEFITS: Thanyapura’s Mind Centre offers Corporate Mindfulness and Emotional Intelligence Training programmes conducted by internationally renowned teachers, including researcher B Alan Wallace, a Tibetan Buddhist monk and translator to the Dalai Lama. The Centre “seeks to bring the benefits of mental training into the modern mainstream,” developing programmes for individuals, sports teams and professionals. These include mental and emotional workshops and exercises designed to enhance focus, productivity and creativity, help reduce and manage stress, and focus on leadership and staff development. Depending on a group’s preferences, the workshops may be held between other activities offered at Thayanpura, such as Zumba, martial arts, and triathlon training. Groups can also book health check-ups and consultations at the Integrative Health Centre, which offers alternative medicine and the latest in light and electromagnetic treatments.
GROUP SIZE: Classes can be conducted for up to 40 people, though sessions are flexible and may be customised according to the group’s preferred itinerary and objectives.

New South Wales, Australia

SETTING: This is not your usual resort destination – in fact, it is not a resort at all. Situated near Lake Jindabyne, High Country Fitness Club is blessed with the picturesque surroundings of the Snowy Mountains. The club itself is composed of a fully equipped gym, and on site are veteran trainers as well as resident health specialists – a massage therapist, physiotherapist, podiatrist, back-care specialist and nutritionist – to offer consultations and assistance where necessary. High Country Fitness founder and head instructor, Manuela Berchtold, is a two-time Winter Olympian in Freestyle Mogul Skiing; she has developed a number of courses that combine completely personalised fitness programmes with group-size fun. For accommodation, groups booking a Fitness Retreat get good rates at the nearby Alpine Gables Resort or Horizons Resort, with whom Berchtold has formed a good working relationship.
FOCUS AND BENEFITS: Every Fitness Retreat is uniquely designed, depending on the group’s level of fitness, objectives, goals and availability, and lasts anywhere from an hour between conferences to a weekend, a week or a month. A typical programme will include an outdoor boot camp session by the beautiful Lake Jindabyne before breakfast, a fun fitness activity mid-morning – usually a hike up Australia’s tallest mountain, Mt Kosciuszko – and then after lunch a mix of yoga, core workouts, stretching or Pilates. Other activities include swimming, aqua aerobics and stand-up paddle boarding at Lake Jindabyne, or mountain biking and horseback riding in the Snowy Mountains. Berchtold, an elite athlete and veteran fitness instructor, also conducts talks on wellness at work and living a balanced lifestyle, having spoken at events such as the Cancer Council Relay for Life, Movember for Testicular Cancer and various fundraisers for Breast Cancer awareness. “I keep in constant contact with all my Fitness Retreat clients – individuals and groups – to make sure they stay on track,” says Berchtold, who emphasises that more than weight loss, High Country Fitness focuses on real lifestyle changes that positively affect and improve physical health.
GROUP SIZE: Up to 20 people per group.

Phuket, Thailand

SETTING: Bhavana is a private seaside resort surrounded by palm trees and bamboo on the secluded Cape Panwa seashore of Phuket Island. Though a rehabilitation centre in the strict sense of the word, Bhavana offers more than treatments for addictions. Preventative programmes are also designed with a focus on individual and corporate group wellbeing. The resort’s two acres (0.8 hectares) are comprised of two residential buildings, a main lodge, treatment offices as well as a seaside dining terrace. Accommodating no more than 10 people at a time, groups can book the resort entirely for themselves, along with the 500 metres of Andaman Sea shoreline that front it.
FOCUS AND BENEFITS: “Team building with an insightful twist” is how best to describe Bhavana’s corporate programmes. The twist comes from the group sessions that the centre facilitates to foster better team dynamics. Through self-reflection and group discussions under the guidance of the centre’s counsellors, participants are able to open up and bring their concerns to the table, whether personal or professional. The idea is to offer a safe environment in which members of the group are able to strengthen their relationships by developing mutual trust. The programme, which includes fun, engaging activities to tackle serious and sensitive issues, is designed to suit groups’ specific objectives, with a consideration for the nature of their industry and work background. Itineraries are flexible; the centre can design a three-day programme to fit a long weekend or more.
GROUP SIZE: No more than 10 as group sessions are more effective in smaller sizes.

Himachal Pradesh, India

SETTING: Up, up and away, 1,585 metres above sea level in the foothills of the Himalayas and nestled among pine trees, Moksha Himalaya Spa Resort is located in the Shivalik Valley, spread over 20,000 sqm of land surrounded by stunning mountain vistas. Around 35 minutes from Chandigarh International Airport or 3.5 hours from New Delhi by road, the location is ideal for nature lovers and perfect for those looking for a good trek. Apart from the resort’s Ayurvedic treatments, Oriental massages and spa packages, groups can also enjoy outdoor team-building activities like cricket or tug-of-war. The spa area, which covers 9,290 sqm, has 14 treatment rooms, six yoga and meditation pavilions, hydro facilities including a whirlpool, herbal steam bath and Vichy rain shower, as well as a Turkish Hammam that offers male and female bath rituals.
FOCUS AND BENEFITS: Moksha’s treatments have been designed to focus on renewing a person’s seven energy centres: Sahasrara or the Crown Chakra of pure consciousness; Ajna or Brow Chakra of soul nourishment; Vishuddha or Throat Chakra of spiritual growth; Anahata or Heart Chakra of emotional balance; Manipura or Solar Plexus Chakra of self-definition; Svadhisthana or Sacral Chakra of love and friendship; and Muladhara or Base Chakra of contentment. These are achieved through Ayurvedic treatments – traditional medicine from ancient India – which include massages and the use of medicinal oils to relieve stress, treat insomnia or jet lag, lower back pain or muscle tension. Resort favourites include the Shirodhara, Abhayanga, Shiroabhyanga and Udvartanam treatments. Comprehensive spa packages are also available, and include three- to seven-day de-stress and detox retreats that are inclusive of daily yoga practice, full-body massages and body wraps, spice chai baths (traditional Indian tea baths) and daily meals. Treatment packages run for three to five days, or for longer periods of two to three weeks.
GROUP SIZE: Treatments vary and are offered at leisure so groups may contain any number of people, though tight-knit groups of 10-15 are recommended.

Johna Baylon


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